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Series / The Soup

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"It's like the Johnny Carson of...whatever."
Herman Bailey (of "Herman and Sharron")

The Soup on E!: They watch TV, so you don't have to.

First, starting in 1991 there was Talk Soup with Greg Kinnear (and various other hosts after him: John Henson, Hal Sparks, and Aisha Tyler), which mainly focused on making fun of talk shows. That ended in 2002 when most of the companies airing the talk shows stopped providing clips. Apparently, they thought it was giving them a bad name. Unsurprisingly, these shows were gone after a couple of years.

Then, in 2004, E! aired The What The? Awards which was quickly changed to The Soup with host Joel McHale. They even acknowledge the original Talk Soup with the segment "Chat Stew".

Regular characters on The Soup include Mankini (a man wearing a bikini), a dancing maxipad, two Star Wars nerds, and Lou the chihuahua. Regular segments include "Chicks, Man", "Reality Show Clip Time!", "Let's Take Some E!", "Oprah's Vajayjay", "Gay Shows" and the "Clip of the Week", the last of which, is the only true remaining bit from Talk Soup. It doesn't take itself too at all seriously.

Four spinoffs have been launched on the majority of Comcast's other cable channels since 2008:

  • E! sister channel Style had The Dish, hosted by Danielle Fishel, that gave special attention to the feminine side of pop culture: fashion, weddings, interior design, etc. Segments included "Clip Closet", "Daylight Cravings", "Here Come the Brides", and a closing "Freak of the Week". Canceled in March 2011, though — likely due to ratings issues and the NBC/Comcast merger making it verboten for Style to make fun of Bravo and Oxygen's programming now that they're all sister networks.
  • Sports channel Versus had Sports Soup, hosted by Matt Iseman from Clean House. Segments included "The Great Outdoors", "Covering the Coverage", and "5 Star Clip". The Woobie of the franchise because of Versus pre-empting it often due to sports coverage and ESPN and the regional sports networks clamping down on fair use of their clips in a comedic sense; depended towards the end more on themed 'blooper' shows and cameos from sports celebrities such as Chad Ochocinco. Done after January 2011 as a result of NBC Sports taking control and rebranding Versus as a serious ESPN competitor under the new name of NBC Sports Network. (Sister network Golf Channel never bothered with a Soup spin-off since they're in Orlando far away from Los Angeles, and golf is just plain Serious Business.)
  • And in 2009 G4 got into the act with Web Soup hosted by Chris Hardwick, which takes on online videos — segments include "Operators Are Standing By", "This Week in Fail", "Please Please Please For The Love Of God Don't Try This at Home", and "The Greatest Web Video Ever note ". Was the first Soup show with their third season to have an actual physical set with screens and backgrounds, though it's just the E! News set with a studio audience stuck where Ryan Seacrest usually stands. The program was ended after its third season when Hardwick departed G4 to focus on projects for Nerdist, his online network of podcast and internet video programming.
  • E! Latin America has its own Spanish version of the show now aptly named La Sopa (which is Spanish for The Soup), hosted by Mexican comedian (and ex-Big Brother VIP participant) Eduardo Videgaray. It's the same show and same format but instead focused on Latin American shows like Mexican soap operas. Two other versions of the show, one for the Colombian feed, hosted by Alejandro Riaño, and another for the Venezuelan feed hosted by comedian Led Varela, were premiered on July and September 2013 respectively. As of 2017 the only remaining version is the Mexican one: the Venezuelan version only had two very short lived seasons before cancellation, and the Colombian one received a change of host for its second season (with Diego Camargo replacing Riaño) before eventually being cancelled too.

Viewers in the UK who can't view the show (which should be very few of you, considering this show goes out on E! UK as well), should consider it to be a cattier version of Harry Hill's TV Burp. Or Americans who can't view the show might think of it as MST3K meets Hollywood gossip.

The Series Finale aired in the US on December 18, 2015. In 2018, Netflix began airing The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale, a show similar to The Soup (Mankini is now One Piece Man). It was canceled after one season.

On February 12, 2020, E! Uncancelled The Soup with a new host: Brazilian comedienne Jade Catta-Preta. This reboot was quickly affected by the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic and quietly finished in October.

This show contains examples of:

  • Ambiguous Syntax: Regarding a reality show called What!? I'm a Stripper, Joel can't figure out what inflection to use when saying the show's title. It could be read with confusion ("What?? I'm a stripper??") or belligerence (WHAT!? I'M A STRIPPER!).
  • Ax-Crazy: Joel McHale is not above kidnapping celebrities, regularly shooting interns and trying to kill Mankini. All Played for Laughs, though.
  • Berserk Button: Joel has a low opinion of a lot of the shows he mocks, but he absolutely loathes Bigfoot hunting shows, and how pointless they are since Bigfoot isn't real.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor:
    • Many jokes are made about the channel that airs it. "Let's Take Some E!" is a segment devoted to mocking E!'s shows, and in monologues Joel often insults his network.
    • Lots of Ryan Seacrest jokes. LOTS of Ryan Seacrest jokes.
    • And now with NBC and Comcast merged, it has started with a description of anal alcohol intake from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit turned into a fake The More You Know PSA.
    • The Latinamerican versions took a step further: they don't only have the section for mocking E! shows, they all had a section to specifically mock the shows about the Karsashian family, appropriately called "Es tan Kardashian!" ("It's so Kardashian")
    • The NBC importnote  Taxi Brooklyn ("A show created and written by Ralph Wiggum from The Simpsons!") got more jabs from the show than any other scripted series, including supplying the #1 clip on its yearend countdown.
  • Butt-Monkey: Matt.
  • Catchphrase: Quite a few at this point.
    • "Give me some!" ("Let's Take Some E!")
    • "Let's talk about chicks, man." ("Chicks, man.")
    • "So meaty!" ("Chat Stew") uuugh...
    • "AROOOOOOOOOO!" ("Clip of the Week")
    • "Dance Your Ass Off continues to be the biggest exploitation of fat people since X."
    • "It's Reality Show Clip Time!" Joel will occasionally play with this one a bit. Variations on this include Joel whispering it, silently mouthing it, just letting out one long yell or random excited gibberish (ISSRELATEESHCLIPTM!), and "By the power of Greyskull, I have the power!"
    • "On the newest episode of (insert phrase that insults Hugh Hefner) with Hugh Hefner.." for The Girls Next Door. Often mined as a source of Black Comedy; for example, "On the latest episode of 'beep, beep, beeeeeep' with Hugh Hefner..."
      • "I'm a boat captain." Usually said at the end of the bit involving Hefner while showing a picture of him bearing a boat captain's hat he's often seen wearing.
    • From The Dish: "I read!" ("Cover Stories")
    • And a whole bunch for news about celebrities...
      • "It's Miley!" ("Miley Cyrus News")
      • "It's a felony!" (Which referred to then-16-year-old Miley dating a 20-year-old.)
      • "It's Alive!" (regarding the fake Miley death video)
      • "Ugh...It's Madonna..." ("Madonna News")
      • "It's Lindsey." ("Lindsay Lohan News", done in a lesbian heavy-smoker-sounding voice)
      • "It's Britney, bitch!" ("Britney Spears News", using a sound-bite from Spears)
      • "It's McCain!" ("Election News")
      • *heavy breathing* ("Mel Gibson News")
      • "Bring it." ("Charlie Sheen News" using a sound-bite of Sheen.)
      • "Sanjaya..." (American Idol news for season six, whispered sensually.)
      • "Stacey..." (A short-lived replacement when Sanjaya was voted off.)
    • "Think about what you're clapping for."
    • "Aaaaaaanyway..." (Joel transitioning from usually a tasteless joke to the next segment)
  • Chroma Key: The main "set" for each show. As such the show can also come from other exotic locales when Joel has another project to do such as...St. Louis (when he was shooting The Informant!), Austin, Texas (filming Spy Kids 4 at Robert Rodriguez's greenscreen complex) and New York City (doing press and upfronts for Community). However these shows can be notable for being the least funny due to the regular crew not being in tow, Joel only able to get writer and director input via Skype and winging it alone, and a different sound and tenor to the audience, who is usually just either rounded up at random or in the St. Louis case, was taped at a PBS station with a crowd of confused station employees and donating members who wondered why a guy was making Paris Hilton jokes in front of a green screen instead of cooking or teaching adults how to get their GED.
    • Also, these "location shoots" are obviously lampshaded on air as the chroma key will never show a glimmer of local flavor and always will show the regular L.A. background.
    • This setup also allows Joel to do the show most every week (besides a few off weeks where a Clip Show is put in the can in advance), and as such the show has only had a few weeks where it didn't premiere a new episode, fresh or clip, in the last six years, with one of the most prominent examples being the lack of a show on the day of the Kate/William royal wedding.
      • Counting the eleven years of Talk Soup, this was the same, note  the longest stretch of time without new episodes was between the mid-2002 sudden cancellation and the mid-2004 premiere of Joel's first episode.
  • Couch Gag: For a while it had the most literal example next to Trope Namer The Simpsons - during the opening sequence, Joel and Lou are on a couch watching a clip from/related to a big media event of the previous week.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • The hosts.
    • The show also has a running segment called "Rrrrow with Brian Wiliams", showing clips of him being snarky on his show Rock Center. They even had him on the show giving a snarky "The Reason You Suck" Speech to him.
  • Distaff Counterpart: The Dish, both in the host and the focus on programs made to appeal to women.
  • invokedDude, Not Funny!: Joel made it clear that they were not about to make the travails of Stephen Collins (in the wake of his molestation charges) and Amanda Bynes (in the latest twist in the ongoing state of her mental health) the subject of comedy.
  • Dueling Shows: Invoked jokingly.
    • VH1's Best Week Ever (it was vanquished in series form after a disastrous retooling into a Soup clone that removed all the heart and soul of the show, but the website's still going strong. But it has come back as a segment in the Friday episode of Jump Start Live).
    • The spinoff Web Soup has its own dueling show in Comedy Central's Tosh0 Which in turn isn't a fair fight; Web Soup airs on G4 which is usually on a higher digital-only tier than basic-cable Comedy Central.
      • Web Soup's done well, however, as Hardwick's brand of foolish yet energetic snarkery provides a great alternative to Tosh's Deadpan.
    • Current TV aired a similar show called infoMania, which covers the week in pop culture with segments that are very similar to The Soup's.
    • The Wil Wheaton Project, which they took a few jabs at.
  • End-of-Series Awareness: A lot of this leading up to the Series Finale.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Perhaps the only clip that actually made Joel legitimately lose it was the incredibly disgusting moment from Toddlers And Tiaras where a mother whispers threats to her daughter to behave because they're on TV and telling her to practice a routine.
    • There was also what was considered one of the most OOC moments on The Soup. Back in January 2008, shortly after the death of Heath Ledger, at the end of an episode, a picture of Ledger was shown and Joel spoke to the audience, asking both for sympathy towards him and to respect his memory.
      • There was also something similar in August 2014 following the passing of Robin Williams.
      • Also happened when Cory Montieth suddenly passed away. At the very end of the episode, Joel acknowledged that people expected him to comment on it, said Cory was "genuinely one of the nicest people in our (acting) field" before wishing those grieving him well.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Anyone who guests on the show. Standing next to the six and a half foot tall Joel makes most guests look really short. It doesn't help when they are really short and appear childlike next to Frankenstein Ryan Seacrest.
  • Foreign Remake: The three versions of La Sopa, hosted by Eduardo Videgaray, Alejandro Riaño and Led Varela respectively for E! Latin America.
  • Hurricane of Euphemisms: Anytime clips from Alaska Gold Rush are shown. Notably, Joel doesn't even make any jokes: he just plays the clips (albeit out of context) and the viewer's dirty mind does the rest.
    • Also happens in the clips from Hillbilly Handfishin and the clips from Man Woman Wild (it doesn't help that the star of the latter is named Myke Hawke).
  • Info Dump: Blue Bloods has been mocked a few times for scenes in which characters gather together and deliver mountains of exposition about things they already know for the audience's benefit.
  • I Read That As:
    • MTV's Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Ruins used a logo where a mountain formed the I in "Ruins". Joel called it "The Runs".
    • Similarly with Gay USA, a news program dedicated to gay issues, which Joel always pronounces as Gayusa, feigning confusion why this Japanese talk show has American hosts and talks so much about gay stuff.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Joel will often snicker and then say "...sorry" when he's made a particularly snarky joke, sometimes even 'kissing' the image of the person he was mocking (especially if they've made a guest-appearance on the show before).
  • Last-Second Word Swap: In a clip shown from the Home Shopping Network, a host takes a bite of the cheesecake they're selling and remarks, "That is disgust...ingly wonderfully awesome good."
  • Limited Wardrobe: Joel almost always appears in a suit with a light shirt and a skinny tie. Sometimes he doesn't wear the tie.
  • Kayfabe: Joel's frequent mocking of "reality" TV shows like The Hills or Brooke Knows Best.
  • Manipulative Editing: The Soup loves to do this with Gold Rush!, making note of the "glory holes" and the name of one of the cast members, Jack Hoffman.
  • Muppet Cameo: Unfortunately for Joel, it was Statler and Waldorf.
  • Mythology Gag: Should Talk Soup be mentioned, the famous spoon background will likely appear.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer:
    • Joel uses them frequently during setups, for example, when explaining the origin of Spaghetti Cat.
    • And sometimes subverted - Joel set up a clip for Small Town Security, giving a bizarre description ("...and they reenacted the dinner scene from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974") and said it was all true, but the clip was way worse than what he promised- someone farted, everyone started laughing at the farts, one lady laughed so hard she peed herself, and a dog started humping her leg.
  • N-Word Privileges:
    • After an especially misogynistic joke, a subtle reminder will often be dropped that the head writer is a woman.
    • One example involved a clip of a woman from the reality show Pregnant in Heels who was hesitant about having sex while pregnant. Joel's response: "Well, you're not pregnant in your mouth." He then brought out the woman that wrote the joke who proceeded to deliver the original version, "in the butt".
  • Nightmare Face: After the HD upgrade, the intro to "Tales from Home Shopping" now shows a female customer's face melting into a horrible shape.
  • Overly Long Gag
  • Product Placement: Parodied when people show up to plug their DVD collections or new seasons of their TV series. Got recursive with Joel's (and all of the show's main cast, with the surprising exception of Chevy Chase) plugging of Community, starring Joel McHale, Thursdays on NBC. Even Dan Harmon showed up on the 2013 Top 40 Clips show. (Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Ken Jeong and Jim Rash all appeared on the Series Finale.)
    • When his fellow castmembers of Community started showing up following the news that Community was being put on hiatus, they all (jokingly) laid into Joel for not doing anything to promote the show on The Soup.
  • Put on a Bus: Lou the chihuahua hadn't been seen for over half a year in 2009, then returned at the end of the first half of 2009's Top 40 Clips show, eating a Howlin' Hound "Heart Yum", made with only the finest of human hearts.
  • Railfan: Clips from I Love Toy Trains are snarked with references to the stereotypes you'll see on the trope page.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Lou.
  • The Rival:
    • Currently, Wendy Williams (with a little bit of UST). Also New York anchor Greg Kelly of WNYW, who is a weekly staple of Chat Stew for his hate of fluff and the trappings of most local newscasts.
    • At one point, Keith Olbermann. (Though theirs was much more good-natured.) Tyra Banks is a much more subtle example. As it has been mentioned in passing on the show that she sent them a Cease & Desist letter to get them to stop showing clips of her talk show and America's Next Top Model. Joel's reply: "No."
    • Most of the time, Joel doesn't even have to say anything about the Tyra clips, proving how stupid she makes herself look. Case in the point, the episode where they showed the clip of her announcement that she was going to write a novel. Joel just stood there and cracked up. Heh.
  • Running Gag: Several, such as referring to contestants on VH1's dating shows as whores, or a euphemism thereof. Sometimes they make jokes about STDs.
    • They also will have several Running Gags that last for a month or two, usually involving a person from a clip photoshopped to pop up on screen and say a line. These have included American Idol contestant Danny Noriega cattily saying "Some people weren't liking it!" and Spencer Pratt from The Hills saying (with narmful bad acting) "That's the problem..." in a hushed voice, a clip of Whitney Houston from her reality show yelling "KISS MY ASS!" and a clip of Kate Gosselin wearing a goofy pink hat with a popcorn bowl on top calling in a high pitched voice "COME AND GET YER POP-CORN!" The current favorite seems to be a drunk woman saying "dunk-a doo ball". These are usually retired so that they don't get too old, although the more popular ones will often resurface after a bit.
    • There's also Matt the Intern being shot and "screaming like a girl."
    • "Stay out of it, Nick Lachey!"
    • "What are you doing here, Dave Navarro?"
    • Let's not forget how much of a pussy Aaron Carter is.
    • Joel's continuing dislike of the "My Stories" intro music, which initially was more reminiscent of radio dramas than soap operas. ("...That I used to watch in the 1920s!") Now the music they play is whatever weird song they can get their hands on. They have recently settled into just using the original music or Bomani Armah's "Read A Book".
    • Killing the blond girl at the end of every season finale of The Hills.
    • During Paris Hilton's My New BFF's run, Joel came up with a different thing the acronym could stand for each time it was featured, including "Beefy Frosting Flinger", "Bulimia Fan Fiction", and "Bffff...."
    • Playing Jeffrey Osborne's "On The Wings Of Love" whenever introing clips from said season of The Bachelor. Joel always tries to get them to stop because "the song is too sincere!" Osborne eventually made an appearance hawking Jeffrey Osborne's Wings Of Love chicken restaurants.
    • Joel's Hugh Hefner: "I'm a boat captain!"
    • From Fantasia's show: "Girl, please!"
    • From The Fashion Show contestant Calvin Tran: "Oh here go hell come."
    • Clips including Lou in some way (like the "dogs playing poker" intro) are usually followed by Joel claiming it took 9 hours to film.
    • "Glory hole", when referring ot Alaska Gold Rush.
    • "Random celebrity, what are you doing here?"
    • "STEPHANIE PRATT, unlikely voice of reason, STEPHANIE PRATT, your logic is a-pleasin', STEPHANIE PRATT!"
      • "GREG KELLY , unlikely voice of reason, GREG KELLY, your logic......."
    • The various voices shouting "Tales! From! Home! Shopping!" keep getting more and more disorganized with each segment.
    • In La Sopa Mexico, Eduardo Videgaray can't avoid pointing out all the machismo and innuendos present in the show Acábatelo! invoked
    • In La Sopa Mexico, Chabana's particular brand of humor.
    • Explaining any sports reference, assuming most E! viewers are unfamiliar with the ball...foot...bat thingy. (Joel is a former football player and die hard Seattle Seahawks fan)
    • Ryan Seacrest jokes, poking fun at his height, questioning his sexuality, his seemingly 800 jobs in showbiz, and the fact that Joel resembles him (albeit a much taller version).
    • Joel thinking that Gay USA is a Japanese show called "Gayusa", and then expressing (fake) bewilderment on why this Japanese show constantly discusses the sate of gay rights in the United States.
    • Telling everyone to stay tuned for a rerun of Sex and the City at the end of the show.
    • Since going live, lampshading and pointing out when they screw up.
    • Pointing out the irony of the fact that "Finding Bigfoot" still hasn't found Bigfoot. As well as the fact that Bigfoot, y'know, doesn't exist.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Matt, whenever Joel shoots him.
  • Self-Deprecation: Usually involving the phrase "basic cable clip show".
    • One week, due to lighting/bad makeup job/who knows, Joel's complexion looked especially ghoulish (and he had shaven off his trademark scruff, adding to it). He immediately mocked himself at the beginning of the next week's show for it.
    • Many, many targets of their jokes have appeared on the show to do skits with Joel poking fun at themselves, Joel, or both. Greg Kelly, one of their favorite targets to mock mercilessly, has appeared TWICE.
      • They did one skit with the head of E! programming, mocking his programming decisions. Biting-the-Hand Humor
    • The week after Community was cancelled on NBC, there were several jokes aimed at his (other) job loss.
  • Shameless Self-Promoter: Joel McHale spends quite a bit of time on the show urging people to watch Community.
    • Also, any time he's appearing in something, like Sons of Anarchy or his stand up gigs.
    • Most of their special guests are promoting something, and making a gag pointing out how transparent the purpose of their visit is commonly used.
    • Anytime the The Soup is mentioned on another show, the clip will get shown on the show.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Joel McHale/Ryan Seacrest. A hilarious, long-running and rare Real Life example. Ryan Seacrest lacks Joel's snarky sense of humor and ends up saying vaguely insulting, rather stupid things. Sometimes they end up sounding vaguely sexual, too. That's Seacrest for ya. Supposedly, the two are friends in real life and it's more play fighting. Though you'd never know that from the way it's represented on the show.
  • Spinoff: The Dish, Sports Soup, and Web Soup.
  • Special Guest:
    • At least one per week these days in an appearance both brief and tongue-in-cheek. Two, John Henson and Aisha Tyler, were former Talk Soup hosts who appeared on separate occasions and didn't miss the chance to needle Joel, and a third former host, Hal Sparks appeared on Web Soup to do the same to Chris.
    • In the weeks following the news that Community was being put on hiatus, Joel's fellow cast-members from that show would appear to lambast Joel for not using his platform to promote the show and do little skits. This culminated in a mass group appearance from them where we learned that the entire cast of Community apparently doesn't exist and are just figments of Joel's imagination to help him cope with the fact that he only works at E!.
      Donald Glover: It's like Fight Club, only you're too much of a pussy to actually fight somebody.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Talk Soup.
  • Studio Audience: The off-screen crew serves as this.
    • As does the actual studio audience, which is usually comprised of friends and family of people who work or intern at E!, Style, or G4. It's a small studio though, so it's a small audience.
  • Take That!: The show's premise in regard to all bad television. Also their own audience, as they constantly jab at their own network and programming, and the kinds of people who would watch E!
    • One of Joel's oddest take thats was when he was remarking on vomit in a garbage can and said that the band Train was among the waste. Even he didn't know why he was badmouthing them.
  • Testosterone Poisoning: The intro to Gay Shows.
  • Through His Stomach: A woman on Maury accuses another of luring away her man by cooking him "CHICKEN TETRAZZINI!" The Soup turned this into one of their running gags, and the segment was the Clip of the Year for 2009, with the lady herself from the clip showing up to receive the award and spout her catchphrase.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: E! UK ran a British version called Celebrity Soup (one of the channel's few locally-produced series) hosted by Iain Lee. Suffice to say that completely missing what makes something work is not exclusively an American trait; started in 2005, binned in 2006.

Want More Clips? Watch The Damn Shows Yourself. (The Stinger on the Series Finale)