Joel McHale watches a lot of TV. He has to, it’s his job. Aided by the research team on his cult entertainment series E!’s The Soup, the US actor-comedian hosts a show that takes a ripping, savvy swipe at American television.
“I’m a glorified weatherman albino gangly weirdo who makes fun of television and all the shows that you can’t stomach,” he told TV Tonight.
In Australia for a recent promotional tour he also snuck in live shows for the Sydney Comedy Festival.
“I landed at 6am, did not sleep, and got on stage at 8 and offstage at 10. By the first show I said ‘folks, if I just fall over, get up and have a drink, I’ll get up eventually.'”
Despite the fatigue, he was happy with way two shows were received.
“They were so great. So nice. I thought since it was Anzac Day there was going to be a lot of folks that had been drinking. Maybe they had been, but they were really attentive and cool. I met a lot of them afterwards and I’m just really grateful they enjoyed the show.”
On his weekly show for E! McHale stands between a live audience and a big screen TV. As he introduces each clip he invariably sets the scene for a bizarre moment from a plethora of reality, lifestyle, and assorted live television.
“We make fun of everything. We watch television so you don’t have to,” he said.
Hang on a minute.Isn’t that the slogan for Television Without Pity’s website? Not quite says McHale.
“They took that from us,” he said. “We’d done that and then they took it from us. We had done it way before them.”
He says it’s possible to love and hate television at the same time.
“It is both definitely. Our motto is that 90% of all television is horrible and 10% has never been better. Because there are tremendously good TV shows.
“In the reality world I love Deadliest Catch, I love Dirty Jobs, I like Celebrity Rehab. I actually like American Idol because it’s kind of just like a talent contest. Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, I like Top Gear. As far as script comedies and dramas I love Mad Men, Battlestar Galactica, Lost, 24.”
He also loves Dexter and insists one episode of True Blood is much better than Twilight.
“And I like 30 Rock, The Office –the British Office is a masterpiece and I really love the American Office. I like South Park, Family Guy.”
And then there are shows he disses.
“But we try not to say everything is the worst thing on TV because that would become very redundant.”
Instead his style is to draw upon lines like: “Never has there been a greater assembly of skanks than on this TV right here.”
In between his live Aussie shows, climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge, a visit to Manly Beach and press interviews McHale says he didn’t get much time to check out Australian television. So his view of Australian actors remains high.
“Here’s the deal we only get the finest ones in America,” he said. “Basically America believes all the Australian actors are like the greatest in the world because we only know the handful of them that are there, so we never see the crappy ones. Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette –you’ve got these monsters of acting.
“So we don’t know the difference. We don’t know about your crappy soap operas.”
Except for one Aussie actor.
“What happened to Yahoo Serious? Where’s that guy now?”
As a media commentator, even a performing one, McHale says he tires of being frequently asked for ‘the latest celebrity gossip?’
“It’s not what we do. We cover the coverage. We’re not breaking stories. Hopefully we’re not contributing to the horrible gossip world. We’re just kinda making fun of it.”
The Soup airs 7pm Sunday on E!