“I hope you like stuff getting made fun of, because we’re going to make fun of everything.” That’s how Joel McHale closed our conversation earlier this week, pleasing words to someone like me. Though I’m not down for a free-for-all where people punch down and kick puppies, I do believe that there’s a place for snark, and that sometimes gets forgotten.
A shift has occurred in late night, which is the realm where The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale will technically reside, though the weekly series is very much not a talk show according to McHale. Shows have shifted from benign party games and hijinks to pound-the-desk political humor. And that’s great, but what about the stupid people in the world who weren’t elected to disappoint us on the regular? The people who have climbed into the public arena in full embrace of the fact that they’re going to have to do and say ridiculous things for a sliver of fleeting reality TV fame? Who points at them and says “ha” in front of a camera these days?
McHale, of course, has a lot of experience being an ambassador for ridicule, mocking reality TV stars for 12 seasons while standing in front of a green screen on The Soup until 2015. But while the green screen and the general targets are the same with The Joel McHale Show, its home on Netflix widens the focus and excites its host with the lack of boundaries. We spoke with McHale about that, whether things will get political, whether social media and internet outrage have sanded down his edge, and if there are any reality TV shows that he actually likes. And because McHale also works steadily as a comedic leading man, we discussed Community‘s bad timing and channeling former co-star Chevy Chase’s air of confidence to play him at the height of his powers in A Stupid And Futile Gesture.
It seems like the focus of the show is going to be reality TV, but are you going to be talking about politics since that’s now an extension of reality TV?
Well, the thing I’ve been saying is we’re not gonna not cover anything. We’re gonna cover everything. But because the Trump administration takes up all of news and all of entertainment all the time, we want people to know that there are still tons and tons of silly stupid reality shows out there that are not getting enough attention and should be pointed out.
Is that part of the why now?
Um, it wasn’t like I saw a cross above a deer and made Jagermeister… which is, I think, how that happened. But it was more that I really liked doing it and when Netflix showed interest, we jumped at it. I’m kind of surprised that I didn’t do it earlier, but I’m a procrastinator and I’m very ADHD, and I don’t get around to that stuff quick enough. I mean, I really enjoyed making the show at E! for 12 years, but there are more reality shows on now then there was television on in 2002.
Now that we’re making the show, we’re gonna obviously make fun of things like The Bachelor and The Real Housewives, those staples that fed my family for a long time, but now because of Netflix being international, we are gonna pull from all sorts of different shows from around the world. We’re gonna really open it up. Because Netflix is such a wonderful blank slate that we can really do anything. There are no restrictions and that is deeply exciting.
How does the show work in terms of logistics and in terms of finding the content to actually talk about? Do you have a staff of people that are just in a dark room watching awful reality TV all day?