There may be some people who wouldn’t be nervous to talk to Joel McHale, but that isn’t me. He stars as Jeff Winger on one of the best comedies on TV (Community), he hosts The Soup on E! (meaning he has interview skills and has adept insights on when you aren’t prepared or have bullshit questions) and he’s soon to be the host of the Film Independent Spirit Awards (who knew someone so funny could be so palpably passionate and serious?)
I took part in a conference call to help Joel McHale promote the Film Independent Spirit Awards. Best. Interview. Ever. Well, at least one of the best I’ve done in the past four years. And it’s all because of McHale being funny, quick on his feet, and professional at the same time. I never do all of that. Psh.
Joel McHale actually gave some really great quoteable lines. For instance: “TV has never been better, it’s also never been worse.” We’ve got The Walking Dead and we’ve also got Minute to Win It. So, yea.
Will he tweet during the awards? “I will try to… but it’ll be tough. I assume it’ll be very busy. I’ll do what I can.” The possible tweets will be, “disjointed and misspelled.” That’s how most of America’s are.
Most of America (not me) is also a big fan of Justin Bieber. What does Joel Mchale think? “Justin Biber will sweep the awards. I think he’s gonna win for Winter’s Bone or Rabbit Hole.”
But what about those actual films, sans Bieber? “I think it is an amazing time for independent film. And the independent films this year have been spectacular.”
One film this year that got great talk was Inception. “After seeing Inception I was kind of amazed that…wow, this movie got made. Not only got made – but obviously got well funded.”
As for Winter’s Bone, he even thinks that HBO could and should make a show based on that movie.
Will his jokes as host of the wards be topical? Sure, Mchale says. That’s, “Pretty dang obvious.” But what else can he say? About his jokes used during the event he says, “Hopefully you won’t be disappointed, but don’t be surprised if you are.”
How’d he even get this gig? “They lost a bet in a card game. So they said, okay, let’s go with that guy from the E! Network.” But actually, the offer came last summer and he sprang on it. “I know that my publicist, Lewis K (Louis K?), who is the most powerful person in Hollywood…he’s in the room with me right now. He’s one of the most powerful people in Hollywood, but not as far as his apparel, ” he joked. “He knew what a good gig it was. And I know that he was my champion. And…he had to sleep with a guy. Sorry Lewis, I’m kidding.” Something you might not know is that McHale actually does loves independent films.
McHale doesn’t want to insult people the way Gervais did during the Emmy’s. But what is his technique? “Do what you gotta do and if people don’t like it…it goes with the territory.” It’s a good life technique.
The humor for his hosting will be focused on being an entertainer. “Most of it will be in Spanish just as a challenge. My main concern, and this sounds really silly, is making the jokes really funny. Just as long as its funny I don’t really care what the jokes are.” He’s working with a small team to compose the jokes.
What has he learned and seen to do or not to do from what he’s seen on other award shows? “Don’t fall off the stage. I’ve seen that happen before,”: he mused allowed with dark foreboding. It seemed like he was visualizing himself doing it.
But what else? How will he approach this whole hosting thing? Being serious, McHale offered up the fact that, “I know when I see hosts I really like. The best hosts are the people who keep the show moving along and keep the ball in the air.”
How are he and his helpers creating the jokes? “It’s not like I’m watching Winter’s Bone and it’s like BINGO that’s the moment!” Although, that would be hilarious. They could do a video montage of Joel watching every movie just until he found something to say about it. But in reality, he’s watched almost every single movie nominated. And he didn’t take notes on what could be funny as he watched. “There’s no problem with completely appreciating the film and then going back to see what we can say about it.”
Which awards show hosts does Joel McHale like? At this point, it seemed like maybe his publicist (who was in the room) was yelling out ideas and Joel would nod, give it his seal of approval and repeat it. “Chris Rock hosting the MTV Film Awards. I think he was awesome. I really liked Dave Letterman hosting the Oscars. I think Steven Martin with Alec Baldwin was awesome. Billy Crystal for so many years… and Jon Stewart was awesome… ah, who else… Kathy Griffin, I always like what she does. I thought Ellen DeGeneres was awesome. How’s that for a start?”
What about Community? He talked about his NBC hit series and said, “Of course I would like to have American Idol ratings.” Seriously! “Hopefully everyone will watch Community, and then eventually there’ll be a movie.”
Small Screen Scoop: What’s a selling point that people forget to mention when trying to encourage others to watch more independent films?
Joel Mchale: “Boy, I think the biggest selling point for independent films is that they just don’t have the same amount of cash to promote things. So they get word of mouth. I think Black Swan is a great example. It did not have the massive marketing campaign. Or for that matter, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. A movie that by word of mouth became a massive success. I think the quality of the product is driven and it always will seep out. If it’s good, it’s good. The quality gets through.”
Here’s a taste of the back-and-forth we had with McHale:
Small Screen Scoop: Are there any independent films that are just so great but still never got enough recognition?
Joel McHale: One of my favorite movies of all time is Withnail and I. It’ an indedpendent movie and it came out in 1989. It starts Richard Grant. Bruce Willis and Demi Moore watched that movie and cast him immediately in Hudson Hawk. You’d recognize him. The other movie that I loved was The Dangerous Minds of Alter Boys. That was so wonderful. What a great film, great performances. That movie kind of broke Emilie Hirsh. … The direction was amazing. … And for that matter…there’s all sorts of, this is not independent, but like Sci Fi movies are often not recognized. I think Children of Men is in my top three. From top to bottom that movie is nearly flawless.”
Small Screen Scoop: If the Community character, Abed (Danny Pudi) was going to win a category for the Film Independent Spirit Awards, what award do you think it would be?
Joel McHale: “Hm. I would say he would win for editing. I think that Abed sees the world as a mosaic and he puts it together in his brain to make TV shows for him to understand his life.”
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