Who is Joel McHale? You know him as Jeff Winger from the NBC hit series Community, or as the host of The Soup on the E! Network – and I had the pleasure to take him out on a man-date…
…and by man-date I mean, a very quick telephone conversation. Sure, I didn’t get the chance to hold his manly hands over a candle-lit dinner or stare into his piercing blue eyes as he lulls a lion to sleep with his playful sarcasm; but imagining all of that was the next best thing as we conversed like old mates, awkwardly, with a time lag acting as a third wheel on our date.
And the BEST part – Joel McHale is coming to Sydney for his first National Tour (details below)! We talked about what we can expect from the show, his experience working with Chevy Chase on the set of Community and a bunch of other things. Unfortunately there were SO many questions I had for him that were left unspoken because there wasn’t enough time! Nevertheless, here is the interview – please listen/read, while I go and write about him in my dream journal. I’ve written the list of things we never got to talk about, at the end.
Jeeves: Hullo! Mr Joel McHale!
Joel: Hi Jeeves
Jeeves: How are you?
Joel: I’m well how are you?
Jeeves: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to have a chat.
Joel: No, thank YOU for doing the interview. I really appreciate it.
Jeeves: No not a problem! Look, I’ve got to be honest I’m quite chuffed; a big fan…
Joel: God bless you.
Jeeves: I especially liked you roles in the Onion Movie and Spiderman 2
Joel: WOW! That is uh… that’s sad and very remarkable! But thank you! Gosh that a deep cut, as they say.
Jeeves: Look, we love you here in Australia and you know what I’m really excited that you’re coming to do a tour! Is this your first time in Australia?
Joel: It is my third time in Australia.
Jeeves: Ah ok!
Joel: I’ve been there a couple of times to promote The Soup and yeh… I’ve actually done stand up in Sydney each time I was there… I’ve been to Melbourne and Sydney and now I’ll finally see the rest of the country.
Jeeves: That’s fantastic. So you do get some down time to see the sites?
Joel: A little bit, yah. So I’m very excited! Also I’ve never been to New Zealand. So that alone will be pretty cool.
Jeeves: Ah that’s so great! So after Australia you’re going to New Zealand to perform there as well?
Joel: Yes. So I’m very very chuffed. I’m very rapidly trying to learn their language.
Jeeves: Haha, its really easy. Basically you take the Australian accent and then shift a vowel over..
Joel: Oh alright! So if I say the word “asshole” how do you say that as a New Zealander?
Jeeves: So the A becomes an E and I guess it becomes Ehsshole.
Joel: Ehsshole? That’s actually a very good lesson and I really appreciate it—this is gonna be great!
Jeeves: Haha ok. Anyway let’s talk about you. I know you’re coming here – we have all these Australians who are massive fans of you because of firstly your role as Jeff Winger on Community – I wanted ask you and I know people are wondering as well – are you Jeff Winger or is Jeff Winger, Joel McHale?
Joel: No! I am definitely not Jeff Winger. I am definitely Joel McHale. I haven’t changed my name to Jeff Winger. People are always so “oh that role is so similar to how you are” right? And I’m like well, I am not a lawyer who’s thrown out of his job and is a womaniser – I have two children and a wife and I’m very happy with her and them so you know its not really me. I hopefully filled up that role and made people think or convince them that I was this character but… I don’t know, I’ll take it as a compliment.
Jeeves: Well look, we love Jeff winger and we’re guaranteed to love you in this show as well. I just also want to touch on the fact that you’ve worked with the Great Sir Chevy Chase. How was that like?
Joel: Oh well Chevy is… well growing up I knew his movies backwards and forwards. I could repeat the movie Fletch out loud back to him. And Chevy is, it’s no secret, that Chevy had reputation. And there were time where we had a ball on set and there were other times where Chevy didn’t want to be there… and its one of those things where you’re working with this guy who was a hero of yours. You know he’s been in so many movies like Vacation and Fletch as I said, will be remembered forever.
Jeeves: You also played Chevy in a movie that’s just about to come out – its in post-production I think..
Jeeves: A Futile and Stupid Gesture?
Joel: Yeh. Now that movie is about a guy, his name is Doug Kenny and he started what’s called the National Lampoon’s which is a comedy magazine in the seventies. He also wrote Animal House and he wrote and produced Caddy Shack and then he died. He fell off a cliff in Hawaii and he was best friends with Chevy.
Joel: And it’s a very sad story but he changed American comedy forever and you know, people like Monty Python, Richard Prior, Steve Martin and the National Lampoons… basically all the people that ended up in the first season of Saturday Night Live were a part of Doug Kenny’s National Lampoons. So it’s a very little known story and he’s kind of the Alexander Hamilton of American comedy.
Jeeves: That’s amazing, yeh.
Joel: Yeh it’s a little known story but yeh.. Will Forte portrays him and he does an outstanding job.
Jeeves: That’s fantastic. Because we are big fans of the National Lampoons here – its got a massive cult following in Australia so we can’t wait for that to come out..
Joel: Right on! That’s great! Yeh. It comes out in January or February, I think.
Jeeves: Let’s talk about your show! I’m really excited! I’m totally going to be there and see it: September 15. You’re going to be at the Sydney Opera House can you tell us what can we expect from the show. I mean, a lot of people also know you for your role as the host for The Soup on the E! Network so you’re somewhat of a social and political expert, are you going to have some social and pollical commentary in the show?
Joel: Oh yeh! Yes definitely but it’s all silly and hopefully absurd and hopefully funny. I mean, yes I guess I will say what happens in Australia, let it be and everything after this will be disappointing. You know this is like seeing the Rolling Stones in 1957. No but, hopefully you will laugh a lot – I touch on a lot of different topics – I talk about Community; I talk about my family; I do talk a lot about American politics I talk about America and how absurd we can be. I will definitely talk about Australia..
Jeeves: ..and how absurd we can be!
Joel: Yeh, I try to hit everything.. I try to offend everyone and then everyone is left mildly offended but hopefully your stomach muscles will be ruptured and you’ll have to go to the hospital from laughter.
Jeeves: I think you have the right audience here because we love it when people take to piss out of politics and America and Australia – we’re just so stupid so you’re just going to fit right in!
Joel: Well everybody’s stupid and everybody’s a little smart. As you know no matter what country you’re from there’s a bunch of smart people and a bunch of dumb people and I like to make fun of both of them.
Jeeves: I was preparing for this interview and I wanted to sort of, I don’t know, I was going to tie this in somehow.. I don’t know if you know but very recently, last week in fact, the phone call between Trump and our Prime Minister was.. the transcript of that conversation was leaked.
Joel: Yes! Yeh its pretty remarkable and I guess I want to apologize?
Jeeves: Haha. Same.
Joel: Yeh well, why would your leader apologize – he was just for(?) phone getting a phone call.
Jeeves: I like it how the United States sees our Prime minster through that – I like it how people are saying that he came off as better in that phone call and I’m like, no I think we look just as bad as each other.
Joel: Oh you are a cynical man!
Joel: You need to look a little more objectively at that conversation – we are the ones that come off as not great in that. I mean Donald Trump also said that he loves your health care system so what the hell’s going on?
Jeeves: Hah yeh That’s right. Joel, I’m a bit conscious of time but if we have a couple of seconds to briefly also mention your book that you released last year, can you indulge us in the title – it’s one of the funniest titles for an autobiography that I’ve read, and that is…
Joel: That would be Joel McHale’s book – which is me – yes, I’m speaking about myself in the third person. What an A-hole. The book is called Thanks for the Money, where I can teach you how to use my life story to make money. That’s right – you will be poor.[NB – the book is actually called Thanks for the Money: How to use my life story to become the best Joel McHale you can be.]
Jeeves: I love that you wrote it! I’ve got to be honest I haven’t read it – definitely buying it after this interview!
Joel: God bless you!! Please run out and buy that thing!!
Jeeves: And I’d definitely coming to you show as well! I’m very very excited about that – for our listeners as well, that’s September 15 at the Opera House
Joel: Hopefully you can come backstage and say hi!
Jeeves: Oh yeh definitely!!
Joel: Please come backstage and bring me your favourite Indian Pale Ale made in …what wait.. you’re in Sydney?
Jeeves: Sydney, yep!
Joel: Yeh bring your favourite Indian pale ale with you!
Jeeves: Got it! Will do! That is a promise! Thank you so much, Joel It’s been a pleasure talking to you!
Joel: Thank you! Right on!! Great to talk to you sir!
Jeeves: Thanks, catch you later! Bye!
What. A. Legend.
And Yes I know!! Esshole is NOT how New Zealanders say Asshole.. I was just flustered that I was talking to Joel McHale on the telephone!!!! SUE ME I’M ONLY HUMAN!!!!
Anyway, I still had a few things left that I wanted to talk about… Maybe we can talk about them on our second date… over a few Indian Pale Ales:
- Given the very topical gay-marriage debate here, Joel himself is a keen supported of the LGBTQI community. He once performed in North Carolina – a state where celebrities actively avoided to perform because of the conservative laws on gay-marriage – McHale went against the boycott and performed there anyway, donating EVERY cent from that show to the LGBTQI Centre, but not after hauling ridicule at the public for being so backwards.
- His tear-into-the-audience style of comedy and how he plans on using it with his Australian audience.
- There’s a chapter in his book about how to get a celebrity body…. I was going to ask about this mainly for me.
- I wanted us to re-enact the Trump/Turnbull phone call… but this may have been a bit too indulgent
By Jeeves Verma