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Back in 'The Soup'
Celebrate the 500th episode of our funny favorite with these 11 clips

By Diane Vadino
Special to MSN TV

"The Daily Show" might get all the love and "Tosh.0" might get all the viewers (at least among 15-year-old boys who love seeing people punched in the groin), but "The Soup" is our choice for an easy-breezy late-night laugher. This week, it deservedly celebrates its 500th episode with live episodes for the first time ever, airing Wednesday, Aug. 21, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on E!

You'll be forgiven if the show is completely off your radar -- or if, perhaps, you confuse it with its earlier incarnation, "Talk Soup," on which hosts including Greg "Oscar nominee" Kinnear and John "'Wipeout'" Henson mercilessly ridiculed the worst of the talk-show detritus (Jerry Springer, his guests, their high school teacher/lovers, etc.) for over a decade, however improbably spinning teen-pregnancy dramas into award-show gold. (It remains the only E! show to win an Emmy, for Outstanding Special Class Program, which no doubt must grate on Ryan Seacrest.) "Community" star Joel McHale stepped into the rebooted version in 2004, two years after Aisha Tyler signed off on  the final episode of "Talk Soup."

Bing: More about 'The Soup' | Joel McHale

From the start, "The Soup" was something different: edgier, odder and funnier than its already-very-funny forefather. It would have to be different to stand out in the super-saturated late-night comedy scene, and it accomplished that by being weirder than "The Daily Show" and more humane than "Tosh," the two shows that perhaps resemble it most closely. Unlike those shows, which take their tone from their hosts' ethos (even in absentia, Stewart's philosophies are stitched into "The Daily Show," and it's impossible to imagine "Tosh" without its namesake), McHale seems to operate more as a master of ceremonies than a focus, and he lets the show's clips and guests determine the tone -- which more often than not is simply absurd. ("Dinoshark," anyone?) Luckily, McHale knows how to make absurd also feel richly, deeply relevant -- not like his writers found something funny in the "Daily Mail" (or, more probably, fishing through the worst of YouTube at 3 a.m. on a Saturday morning). Take the "Teen Jeopardy" clip, for instance -- it's funny on its own, but McHale repeats the same, awkward footage until we should, by all rights, be bored of a young game-show contestant flubbing an answer. Somehow, it gets funnier each time. That's the magic of "The Soup."

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Truth be told, we never would have thought the show would last this long: It's just so weird. But of course, we're thrilled it has, and to mark its milestone, we've selected 11 of our favorite clips -- we love it too much to limit ourselves to 10. All of them should give fans a second chance to laugh along and might convince newbies to stick around. And if you only have time for one, make it "Teen Jeopardy." We swear, it gets better every time you see it.

"Teen Jeopardy" (slightly NSFW)

"If this young lady learned anything, it's that if you don't know the answer, it's better to not ring in at all." This is exactly what we're talking McHale's a master of mining the humor out of repetition. That same line shouldn't be funny three utterances later -- but somehow, it still is.

"CSI" Hello

"When Horatio Cane wants to send you a message, he's gonna send you a message. And by gosh, nobody's going to get in his way." See how it works? Here is again, the humor of the absurd repetition -- even if it's as simple as Horatio Cane offering up a couple "Hellos," followed by one completely out-of-context greeting from RuPaul.

Courtney Stodden reads her ("her") tweets

"In 'Uncomfortable Tweets From a 16-Year-Old Girl News,' Courtney Stodden, seen here flirting with and/or convulsing at 51-year-old actor Doug Hutchison, has been tweeting." Maybe our favorite "Soup" clip of all time. Among those tweets: "A soft sensation sweetly caresses my body as I prepare for a sexy photo shoot this afternoon."

"E! News" nonsense

"Let's check in with 'E! News' and see what stories our network is working hard to bring you now." We haven't seen Jon Stewart haranguing Comedy Central like this for a very, very long time.

"Birdemic"

"The masterpiece that is 'Birdemic: Shock and Terror' was released this week on DVD and it lived up to every one of my expectations." Two years before "Sharknado," McHale and his team found its perfect, bird-centric progenitor.

"Secret Life of the American Teenager"

"According to ['The Secret Life of the American Teenager'] website, Tom considers himself the man of the house and can be hot-headed. According to this clip, he's also not picky." We're not sure what face it is that McHale's making in the middle of this clip, but it's awesome.

"Dinoshark"

"'Dinoshark' was on the Syfy Channel this week. What is a dinoshark you ask?" Again: Two years before "Sharknado," McHale et al. knew exactly what we wanted -- and the rip on the heroine's decision to remove her top at the drop of a "sexy Wikipedia page" is totally on target.

Alexis Neiers calls Nancy Jo Sales

"She was determined to give the reporter a piece of whatever takes up the gelatinous space in her mind." This clip makes a lot more sense if you've ever seen Alexis Neiers on "Pretty Wild" -- or Sofia Coppola's "Bling Ring," but for sheer, absurd cellphone breakdowns, it's perfect.

Charlie Sheen

"How does Charlie Sheen do it?" Charlie Sheen + "Iron Chef" + bourbon = perfection.

Eminem interview

"We've had a lot of famous people on the show -- Danny Bonaduce, Corey Feldman, the list goes on and on." This legitimately famous person makes the ultimate unlikely guest star -- resulting in an awkward, sort-of-funny, sort-of-just-bizarre clip we can't believe they convinced Eminem to do.

Alison Brie and Gillian Jacobs hit Joel with handbags

That's all there is to it. And somehow, it's still awesome.

"The Soup" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on E!

1Comment
Aug 19, 2013 2:40PM
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Maybe it's not as funny now that she's gone, but I loved how they would paste in Whitney's "kiss my   as%," sometimes very unexpectedly.  But the best is still the little girl licking the pickle - sick and funny!
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MSN TV's guide to fall TV: We celebrate the 500th episode E!'s "The Soup" by taking a look at 11 of our favorite clips from the often under-the-radar show