Thursday, April 22, 2010
The Strange Genius
As a rule, there are two things I hate about celebrity culture: 1) the term genius applied to everyone with a People's Choice Award 2) So-called journalists who interview celebs and kiss ass no matter how obscure and untalented that person is. That being said, I am going now to throw around the term "genius" and make glowing statements about a celebrity that could be construed as kissing ass in this post because frankly, I think he deserves it.
I wish I could say I have always loved Joel McHale and how underrated I always thought he was. I have been watching The Soup for some years now, and I always liked Joel. However, he was a piece of the furniture in the TV set: the guy who quipped great one liners about TV. He did it well, but so did Hal Sparks and Greg Kinnear. However, right before Community premiered, The Soup started doing these specials on Mondays where they would pick a theme and show weird clips from TV. He started to shine more, and he stood out from the other Soup hosts. However, when Community came out, it pretty much sealed the deal of my love for him.
McHale's humor on The Soup is somehow edgy, yet all-encompassing. He'll take the joke to that strange place in the back of your mind that always think about but never say out loud. He says it out loud. The show is never dull, and always feels fresh. On the other hand, there's the meandering musings of Community. If you have never seen Community, it's a sitcom that doesn't want to be a sitcom. There's no laugh track and it makes weird references to TV and to tried and true sitcom formulas.
McHale's character is not that different from characters he played in the past, but not in this fashion. Community seems to be an acquired taste, drawing a cult following. Many times I see comments on blogs that say something to the effect of: Love Joel, love The Soup, hate Community. I, personally, hope Community stays around for awhile. The show makes a lot of offbeat, pop culture references and self-aware of its own ridiculousness. I think what some people deem as "trying too hard" is actually what makes the show funny to me. It knows it's trying too hard.
Another thing that makes Community so interesting is that McHale is even in it. He probably could have had a moderately successful career doing The Soup and some commercials and make enough money to retire comfortably and do the occasional stand-up gig (He still does stand-up shows btw! Joel, if by some accidental click you find yourself reading this, PLEASE come back to Orlando!) I really think he is on it, to show people like me that he could do more. Forget anyone on SNL or even The Daily Show, I really think McHale could be our next Bill Murray or Chris Farley, or even outshine the career of his co-star, Chevy Chase.
I feel like I can't be a gay man talking about Joel McHale and not mention his gay following. Maybe it's because he's tall and handsome, or the fact that he is witty. Maybe it's because he's a straight guy who embraces his gay side, or it could be all that and more. Either way, I give him major brownie points for embracing his gay fans so readily, including doing a recent interview with The Advocate.
A new episode of Community is on tonight at 8pm. I also assume there's a new episode of The Soup on Friday because I'm pretty sure E! never gives him a break.