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Joel McHale had a very good 2009. His pop culture/reality TV recap show, “The Soup” is the E! Network’s most popular show that doesn’t star a Kardashian sister, he stars in NBC’s hit comedy “Community,” and even landed a role in The Informant! opposite A-lister Matt Damon.
McHale took a timeout from his holiday in hometown Seattle to talk about his upcoming New Year’s Eve show at Dodge Theatre.
You’re helping Phoenix usher in 2010 but a part of you must be sad to see 2009 end. What’s your personal highlight of the year and how have you kept the rush of success from going to your head?
“I think both those questions can be answered with one answer: Enjoying time with my 4-year-old [son Edward] and 1-year-old [son Isaac]. Professionally, I’d say doing the film with Matt [Damon] and bringing my whole family to New York for the premiere was very cool. Getting to go on [David] Letterman was huge for me. That guy was my TV dad! Everyone talks about Johnny Carson being their guy but I grew up with Letterman so to sit two feet away from him was absolutely crazy.”
Other than the emergence of “Jersey Shore,” which 2009 pop culture development had the most profound impact on you and your material?
“When [talk show host] Wendy Williams lit up a Slim Jim on the air, that was solid gold.”
There seems to be little discernable difference between [your character on “Community”] Jeff Winger and Joel McHale, host of “The Soup.” Did [“Community” creator] Dan Harmon write the part with you specifically in mind? And who did you beat out for the part?
“I’d never met Dan until I read the pilot, which was the funniest script I’d read in years. What drew me to the character was that Jeff isn’t the moral center of the show. Britta is. People can’t rely on my character to always have the right answer and I like that. As for who I beat out for the part, well, I’m just glad Tom Cruise and Will Smith had had other things to do.”
Any good Chevy Chase stories? And do you ever find yourself following him around the “Community” set quoting lines from Fletch and Caddyshack?
“Chevy doesn’t have email. He always says, ‘My email is back in New York,’ which I’ve always found strange. I have quoted a lot of Fletch back to him. He found it endearing at first but now it’s just creepy.”
People who are seeing you live for the first time will be surprised by your freakish size. What other surprises are your fans in for during your set?
“That I’m a woman. And the show is a very tight 7 ½ hours long. And I’ll be almost entirely naked, except for the pasties.”
Will there be any Ryan Seacrest jokes?
“There’s a good chance.”
Finally, how does your tour bus differ from [Poison singer, “Rock of Love” star, and frequent “The Soup” target] Bret Michaels’?
“It’s 90 percent less skanky.”**
**McHale doesn’t have a tour bus.