“It’s hard to manage but I love the work. I can’t imagine how fortunate I am. It’s a lot of work but it’s great work. It gets a little busy but that’s all right. I can’t be negative. I could be an out of work actor, which is how you describe most actors. Who knew that this is where I would be 10 years ago? I’m doing what I want to do, which is something not everyone can say.”
If pictures are really worth a thousand words, a publicity shot of Joel McHale speaks volumes.
There’s a photo of the actor-host of E!’s The Soup, biting on a shirt as it’s being pulled over his head. McHale, 39, appears pretty stressed out.
But there’s reason for McHale to be frayed a bit at the edges. The star of the NBC sitcom Community, also hosts the weekly Soup. He recently finished work on the film The Big Year, which will be released in 2011 and features a big cast that includes Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson.
McHale is also on tour, which stops New Year’s Eve (Friday, Dec. 31) at the Borgata, and he has a wife and two young sons. (See recent TV interview at bottom of this article.)
That’s a tall order to juggle.
“It’s definitely a lot to balance,” McHale tells Atlantic City Weekly. “It’s hard to manage but I love the work. I can’t imagine how fortunate I am. It’s a lot of work but it’s great work. It gets a little busy but that’s all right. I can’t be negative. I could be an out of work actor, which is how you describe most actors. Who knew that this is where I would be 10 years ago? I’m doing what I want to do, which is something not everyone can say.”
McHale isn’t a typical stand-up. Much of his show is filled with pop culture.
“What I do onstage is an expansion of The Soup,” McHale says. “I just go more in depth and I can say things that I can’t say on television. I also do some personal stuff and talk about my family.”
According to McHale, most celebrities are fine with his barbs.
“Every single reality star that I have ever run into has said thanks for making fun of me and I would love to be on the show. It’s great that no one has tried to kill me yet,” he says.
But some celebrities must have taken exception to McHale’s shots from The Soup.
“Oh yeah,” McHale says with a laugh. “I’m not going to get into specifics about that. You’ll have to come out to the show to find out about that. I can’t give that away. That’s so damned entertaining.”
Perhaps this will be McHale’s last extensive stand-up tour for quite some time since he has more films on the horizon and he is committed to Community.
“I love that show,” McHale says. “I was always an actor. I fell upon hosting The Soup and it’s been great since it’s a lot of fun to do. I don’t regret a minute of my time on The Soup. We try to be as funny as possible in our weekly half-hour. The show has provided for my family. I’ll always be thankful for it. It has more than paid the bills. I established myself in the industry through The Soup.
“But I always wanted to do a show like Community. [Executive producer] Dan Harmon [The Sarah Silverman Program] is a genius that I would follow anywhere into battle. Dan is just incredibly talented. He helps set us apart from everything else on television. The guy has such a brilliant mind. I would work on anything he’s working on. I’m part of a talented cast that hopes to rise to the level of the writing, which is a feat in itself.”
Everything seems to be going McHale’s way. “Well, it’s going great now, but it’s not perfect,” McHale says. “If life were perfect that picture of me [biting the shirt going over my head] would disappear. Also, I would be able to spend more time with my children.
“They give me most of the joy in my life, but I can’t complain. Look at the soldiers in Afghanistan. They don’t see their children for such a long time and they are in harm’s way. Those are people I take my hat off to. Those guys are heroes, who actually don’t put themselves first, which isn’t so with actors. I commend our soldiers. They sacrifice.
“But I’m in a totally different spot. I could never complain since I do get to see my children and we have so much fun together. I’m working and that’s a good thing. I hope to remain busy. I hopeCommunity takes off. Shows like ours need time. Look at Seinfeld and Cheers. Those shows didn’t finally really hit until their second or third season. You need time to establish yourself. Our show is very ambitious. It’s not like other comedies. A show like ours needs time to connect. Hopefully this show will be running a long time and I’ll be a part of it.”
Part of the reason McHale loves reporting to the set everyday is to work with television and film icon Chevy Chase.
“He is just incredible,” McHale says. “He has better stories than anyone and we all know how talented he is. There’s nobody like him. It’s not just Chevy Chase, who is great to work with. It’s the whole show. I hit the jackpot with Community.”
“My Year in 100 Words. Highlight: I didn’t text a picture of my junk to anyone, unlike my hero Brett Favre. Lowlight: I’m lying. Highlight: Brought my kids to Toy Story 3. I cried like a baby. Lowlight: My kids now think I’m a p—-y. Highlight: Met and worked with the incredible Steve Martin. Lowlight: Met and worked with Steve Martin in the Vancouver, B.C. landfill. (It smelled like a million eggs had been murdered there.) Highlight: Getting my Kardashian MasterCard. Lowlight: Losing my Bridalplasty Discover Card. Highlight: I was turned into Claymation for Community’s special holiday episode. Lowlight: I was made without genitals.”—Joel McHale - Entertainment Weekly’s Best of 2010 issue