Debuting in January 1991, E!’s pop culture comedy commentary show, then known as “Talk Soup,” became a cable TV staple, launching the careers of a handful of comedians.
Though McHale is known to current audiences as the wisecracking emcee of the Emmy-nominated laffer who took a star turn at the helm of “The Soup” for 12 years — right down to his departure statement, in which he thanked “Kim Kardashian’s ass for all that it’s done for me and my family” — it was Greg Kinnear who started off the satirical series.
Before McHale takes his final bow Friday night, take a look back at the comedians who hosted the 22 seasons of “Talk Soup” and “The Soup”:
Greg Kinnear (1991-1995)
After four years on E!, the first host of “Talk Soup” went on to host his own major late-night talk show, “Later with Greg Kinnear,” which succeeded Bob Costas’ version of the NBC show that aired after “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” “Talk Soup” won an Emmy for Kinnear’s time on the show, but after leaving the hosting world for movies, the TV personality-turned-actor was nominated for an Oscar for his supporting role in Jack Nicholson’s 1997 film “As Good as it Gets.” Kinnear also had big parts in “You’ve Got Mail,” “Little Miss Sunshine” and “The Last Song,” in which he played Miley Cyrus’ father. He starred alongside Katie Holmes in the 2011 miniseries “The Kennedys” and toplined the short-lived Fox dramedy “Rake,” which lasted for one season in 2014.
Next year, he’ll co-star with Renee Zellweger in Paramount Pictures’ adaptation of the bestselling non-fiction book “Same Kind of Different Me,” and will play Joe Biden in HBO’s Anita Hill TV movie “Confirmation,” which stars Kerry Washington.
John Henson (1995-1999)
Stand-up comic Henson was “Talk Soup’s” longest host (disregarding McHale for “The Soup”), almost reaching five years before he landed his own comedy reality show “The John Henson Project” on Spike TV, which only lasted for nine episodes. However, he hit gold as the host of ABC’s seven-season obstacle course game show “Wipeout,” on which he worked until late 2014. He has held various hosting gigs, including the 33rd annual Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, plus has held scripted roles on Disney’s “Austin & Ally,” playing Ross Lynch’s father, and “My Name is Earl,” on which he played a reporter.
Hal Sparks (1999-2000)
Taking over “Talk Soup” when Henson departed gave Sparks his first big break. Only hosting for one year, Sparks left for a main role on Showtime’s drama “Queer as Folk,” on which he starred for all five seasons until 2005. He also appeared in Ashton Kutcher’s 2000 flick “Dude, Where’s My Car?” and has been a commentator on VH1’s “I Love The …” specials, plus was a contestant on the cabler’s reality show “Celebrity Paranormal Project.” Today, Sparks has a strong social media presence with over 100,000 followers, and currently stars on Disney XD’s “Lab Rats,” on which he has been a regular since the series debuted in 2012. The live-action teen series will end after its current season.
Aisha Tyler (2001-2002)
The only woman to hold the top post on “Talk Soup,” Tyler continues to be hostess-with-the-mostess, hosting “Whose Line is it Anyway?” on the CW, and co-hosting CBS’ daytime talker “The Talk,” alongside Sharon Osbourne, Julie Chen, Sheryl Underwood and Sara Gilbert. In addition to long arcs on “Friends,” playing David Schwimmer’s love interest, “24,” “CSI,” “Ghost Whisperer” and most recently, “Criminal Minds,” Tyler is also a regular of the voice cast on FX’s animated series “Archer.”
Joel McHale (2004-2015)
After a brief hiatus from “Talk Soup,” E! revitalized the show with a new name and a new star with the series’ longest-running host, McHale, who during his time, made the Mankini famous, in addition to Ryan Seacrest jokes, “Oprah’s Vajayjay” and a segment mocking Los Angeles’ “Good Day LA” morning news show, “What’s Pissing Off Steve Edwards This Week?”
While hosting “The Soup,” McHale led the fan-favorite ensemble of NBC’s cult comedy “Community,” which lived on Yahoo after being axed by the network. Fans are still holding onto hope for a “Community” movie, but in the meantime, McHale — who cited a focus on acting as his reason for exiting “Soup” — is staying busy with a role on Fox’s “X-Files” reboot. He also appeared in “Ted,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “Spider-Man 2” and has lent his voice to a crop of animated shows. This year, he hosted the ESPYS.