While The Masked Singer continues to be one of the highest-rated shows on network television thanks to its alluring and mysterious roster of singers, it’s not just the talent behind the masks that has viewers enthralled. The vibrant panel of judges has been equally fun to watch, especially when deciphering the voices behind the masks. The recognition sparked the series to introduce its Golden Ear trophy last season for the judges, with the premiere award going to Jenny McCarthy. But as guest judge Joel McHale exclusively shares with PopCulture.com, series judge Ken Jeong will never take the honor from McCarthy because — as the comedian teases most candidly — “he’s not smart enough.”
“Why would he take it? No, he’ll never take it from Jen. He’s not smart enough,” McHale teased to PopCulture in a telephone call on March 25. “He doesn’t know his left from his right, he doesn’t know what cities he’s in most of the time. He can barely operate a vehicle. It’s all the classic Ken Jeong tropes. Even if he looks like he’s going to beat Jenny, he’ll find a way to screw it up.”
McHale, who has been a recurring guest panel judge since Season 1, admits being on the show alongside Jeong, McCarthy, Nicole Scherzinger and Robin Thicke has been “really fun” for him — even if he wasn’t exactly sure what the show was about ahead of its debut in 2019.
“I swear to you, I didn’t know how the show [worked], what was it about because I was like, ‘Are we guessing whether they’re good singers or guessing who they are?’ And they just went, ‘Yes.’ And I went, ‘Okay. So, if someone’s a bad singer, do we not want them singing? Or are we trying to guess who it is?’ And they’re like, Yes,’” McHale said. “So, the show, with the costumes and the guessing, it really was bananas and that’s what I love about the show — is how crazy it is, and that was huge.”
McHale adds “the more chaos, the better,” when it comes to The Masked Singer. “The more kind of jailbreak feeling, the better for me,” he said. “They allow me to be around them and say really silly things. They have a real job to try to figure it out, whereas I’m just flailing out of control. So, thank you, to those guys.”
While the actor roasts Jeong most frequently with the pair constantly taking jabs at one another, McHale has nothing but love for his former Community co-star whom he shares hosting duties with on their podcast, The Darkest Timeline. As fans might recall, the series halted just before August last year with 25 episodes, but McHale teases the show will go on — eventually.
“Ken and I are right now already discussing guests — and we got Trudeau. No, I’m kidding,” he teased. “We didn’t — but we’re already discussing guests and I know that we’ve basically taken like eight months off because we stopped in August because he started up with The Masked Singer, and then I Can See Your Voice and The Masked Dancer. Then I shot my game show, then I shot a movie, then we went right into writing our New Year’s Eve Toast and Roast for FOX, so we have been insanely busy. I can’t go into the podcast not prepared. And so, he and I are definitely discussing it, and I hope it happens because I’d have so much fun.”
McHale adds that during the pandemic, aside from his immediate family, Jeong was a real solid rock for him. “Other than my wife [Sarah Williams] and my children, I really relied on him for moral support and so, it was such a pleasure doing [the podcast],” he adds. “I think it will come back, but again, we need $100 million. I don’t know why we need it for the podcast, but we just need money.”
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While PopCulture somehow finds itself helping to raise money for the free-to-download podcast, the beloved comedian is currently lending his support to Casey’s latest campaign. Recommending their new garlicky, cheesy breadsticks made from freshly baked dough prepared in their more than 2,200 stores across the U.S., McHale teamed up with the company because he loves pizza and the appeal of fresh mozzarella spoke to his soul. The Italian-born actor further shares his love for Casey’s sparked a physical reaction he could just no longer deny.
“My dad’s from Chicago and I have 27 first cousins, so they’re spread out all over the Midwest. Casey’s is a thing that it’s everywhere, and it’s really good and it’s made from scratch, and that does not happen all the time. It was a no-brainer,” McHale said of his partnership with the brand. “I began salivating, so I can only tell from those sorts of physical things happening that I should probably partner with them.”
Casey’s cheesy breadsticks come in an eight-stick order along with marinara or cheese dipping sauce. As the fifth-largest pizza chain in the country, Casey’s team members receive specific training on dough preparation and the special recipe to deliver the perfect pairing to its famous pizza. Guests can take a bite for a promotional price of $3.99 for an order of cheesy breadsticks through May 31.
The Masked Singer airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on FOX. You can catch the show with a cable subscription, satellite or digital TV antenna, as well as a few streaming services. FuboTV is offering PopCulture.com readers a free trial here. Each episode is available the following morning on Hulu as well, which you can find here.