Joel McHale appears to be all over, and that’s what I’m here for. Although he is best known for his work on Community and as a host of Soup – arguably two of the funniest shows of the 21st century – McHale has appeared in nearly 100 projects while maintaining a busy (pre-pandemic) stand-up schedule.
Surprisingly, his workload seemed increase with quarantine. He organized a King tiger aftershow on Netflix very early during COVID, appeared in several TV series and specials (including the new Crime scene kitchen), hosted a Communitybased on a podcast with co-star Ken Jeong and even took on pitch-person roles including Hisense TV and, the reason we’re talking to him today, Q Mixers.
“I’m the Chief Happy Hour Officer, which is an official title,” McHale insists. (How busy is he? He calls via Zoom during a break from a photoshoot for the tonic / mixers brand.) “Look, I’m going to all the meetings. CEOs, CFOs, they’re all there. “
Given the comedian’s penchant for posting workout photos, I wasn’t sure he was a heavy drinker. I was wrong, as our brief but very entertaining presentation proved.
InsideHook: You are incredibly busy. Even during the pandemic it was like King tiger special, game show host, Stargirl and even last week I was watching a tech preview for Hisense and you were there. And now Q Mixers. Do you miss your family or are they happy to see you go?
Joel McHale: It’s a very mixed bag on that one. “When are you coming home?” they ask. Then I’m home and they’re like, “This is really boring.” I’m an obsessive compulsive workaholic so when the pandemic hit I was like, ‘Oh man, what am I doing to get going? So Ken and I started this podcast because we weren’t filming. It has always been that way: I grew up with five different jobs; I worked in an espresso cart, I had a paper route, weeding service, tree cutting service, I folded sweatshirts in a warehouse, you name it, I did.
And I was so happy when people like Jamie Foxx and Ellen DeGeneres started hosting game shows, because it’s like, “Now I can!” They paved the way. Previously, if you were doing television, you couldn’t make movies. Thank goodness those lines are blurry now. I say “no” a bit. When it’s stuff that I like, I run after it.
Also, what are you drinking? Is it just a tall glass of tonic?
I actually drink a Q Mixer with your friend Paul Feig’s brand gin. I interviewed him the other week and he said you were one of the most beautiful human beings he had ever worked with.
[Does pretty good Paul Feig impression for 20 seconds] Also, if you talk to him again, ask him about Ronald McDonald.
It sounds worrying.
There is a little piece of history there. But Paul and I had so much fun on this show that we did. It was good that Netflix gave us two seasons. We obviously would have liked to do more. But they decided to go with it Narcos.
You work a lot and I thought you weren’t really drinking.
I was up this morning at 6 a.m. My thing is, if I like drinks and steaks, and this new show on Fox that I host that has lots and lots of desserts, I have to balance it out with exercise. I am obsessive; I remembered the old age of two milliseconds by training for an hour. But I really like it! It sets my day up, and I know it sucks. It started when I was supposed to get in shape for a movie in 2013, and it was so hard to get back in good shape, so I said to myself: “I will never let myself outside out of shape again. It’s just 30 or 45 minutes a day, and that’s fine, as long as it happens every day.
So you enjoy the occasional drink.
Occasional? I’ve been drinking a day for a year and a half, Church. But yes, I do! I really like cocktails, wine and beer. I know you asked this question correctly, but when Q Mixers makes an extra carbonated blender it really makes a much better drink. I never understand why you mix high quality gin with shit. Also, I really like the brand and Jordan the owner.
Do you keep it that simple with your cocktails? Your buddy Paul was making amazing cocktails every day in his forties and posting them on Instagram.
Oh, I can also make a three-piece suit, an ascot and a cane and a monocle, and take an hour and a half to mix a drink, bring the bitters out of the garden. Look, no one will ever come to Paul Feig’s level of dedication. He makes the Kingsman look like a slob. I will say that if I am going to make a Moscow mule, I will remove the appropriate cup and do all of that. I have a few fancy ice cream trays and my wife gave me some stones to drink, for when I have a scotch. When I make the Five O’Clock Fizz (note: a drink created by McHale for Q Mixers), for example, putting in Campari, tequila blanco, ginger beer and lime juice, I get ensure it is dosed correctly.
But I love cocktails: when my wife and I started, our drink of choice was gin and tonic. And I remember a tiki bar near Green Lake in Washington where my friends and I would stay there until 5 in the morning and turn it off.
In all your work, have you never been a bartender?
I have never been a bartender, even though I worked in a wine store. I’ve always seen bartenders as chemists. And that takes practice. I can follow directions and am in good shape, but I know people who can shed an ounce without looking.
Gear shifting: you are now Stargirl on the CW. Have you always wanted to play a superhero?
It has been a dream of mine since I was a child. And now I am Starman. When I got the call from my agent it was like I was doing a sketch of Lucy on the phone, I was so excited. When I slip into this awesome costume, I feel pretty good about myself. And a lot of my scenes are with Luke Wilson. He’s so funny it scares me. I was telling him one of his scenes from The Royal Tenenbaums and how amazing he was, and he was like, thanks dude! I’m like, you don’t understand, that was a huge thing in my life.
Speaking of important and life-changing comedy scenes in movies, what do you take away from this scene in The Happytime Murders? You know the one.
Oh, the ejaculation scene? There was so much sperm spray; it lasted about four hours. The amount of improvisation we were doing while this was going on was really fun. And boy, this movie… I was nominated for a Razzie, but when we were shooting it, every scene I did, I was like, it’s funny! I had a good time.
I guess you are good at toast and are often asked.
You are right. My big advice is simple: happy wife, happy life. Do whatever you can to make your spouse happy, the same will happen to you, and that will be a very good thing.
What’s the next step for you? Maybe a Community movie?
Oh, already shot! In New Zealand, Peter Jackson at the helm, a lot of CGIs. Otherwise? Crime scene kitchen on Fox. If you like baking and forsenic work, you will be happy.
Last question. As someone who has lived in Seattle for a bit: what do you remember [influential local comedy show] Almost live, where did you start early?
God bless these people and this cast. They let me screw up for five years on TV, I would have been kicked out of Hollywod if I had been as green as I was on this show.
And, Kirk, thanks for the recycling.
This article was featured in the InsideHook bulletin. Register now.