It turns out Joel McHale may be the person responsible for fixing that Community gas leak. In an interview with HitFix, Dan Harmon recounted how his return to the show came about.
It was a phone call from Joel McHale, but I didn’t take him seriously. I just thought it was a very loyal, passionate actor calling an old friend to let him know that he was missed after concluding a year of work without him. I thought that Joel works hard and really beats the pavement and politics, but I never dreamed that an actor could accomplish too much more than inspiring a Tumblr blog about him, you know. I didn’t think he had that much sway. So there were a few phone calls where he would call me and talk about how I was missed and then he would say, “Would you come back if you could come back?” And I would say, “Well, I don’t need to know the answer to that question.” He said, “Well, are you open to the question being asked, if they were to ask you to come back?” And I said, “Well, if for purely theoretical reasons for this conversation, yes, if Sony and NBC both asked at the same time, yeah, I would be open to them asking. I would be able to say yes or no.” And I would get off the phone with him and my girlfriend would say, “What was that about?” And I’d tell her and I would just roll my eyes at her. There were two or three phone calls like that from Joel with increasing emphasis on the idea that he was gonna talk to so and so and he was gonna make this happen and I still really just thought it was all folly. Obviously because in 60 years of television - this is not something that happens. And if it ever is, it’s not something that doesn’t get brokered by an actor.
So shame on me for underestimating Joel McHale about the last thing in my life that I’ll ever underestimate him for. Because it appears now that he can do anything. Yeah, and then all of a sudden one day my agent called me and said, “Sony wants to know if you’re interested. They think that they can possibly goose the numbers going into a fifth season which will get us very close to 100 with the publicity surrounding your return.” So that’s typical: human beings tend to think in terms of good guys and bad guys but corporations just go, “Okay, we thought we’d change this light bulb and that it would save us money. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. Let’s put the old one back. That’ll save us money.”
Thank you, Joel McHale. Words can’t express our gratitude.
If you’ve got some time to kill, check out the mega three-part interview in full here.