Not My Job: We Quiz 'Community' Star Joel McHale On Community Theater
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
And now the game where people who have gone a long way come back to pick up something they somehow forgot to do while passing through. It's called Not My Job. Joel McHale was a comedian who hosted a talk show about the stuff that goes on in other talk shows. After that, he starred in the groundbreaking comedy "Community," did a whole bunch of other TV shows and movies. And he's now back to hosting, including an interesting new baking competition called "Crime Scene Kitchen," which I hope is not about using blood as an ingredient. Joel McHale, welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)
JOEL MCHALE: Thank you for the clapping.
SAGAL: You're welcome.
MCHALE: Just calm down, everybody. Calm down.
SAGAL: You've done so many things, but I actually want to start with the thing that you're doing now...
SAGAL: ..."Crime Scene Kitchen." Can you explain this show to us?
MCHALE: I'd like you to explain it. Thank you.
MCHALE: So nice of you. No, it's called the "Crime Scene Kitchen," where it's a competition baking show. And there's 12 teams of bakers, and they get to go into this thing called the Crime Scene Kitchen, and they have to make a dessert while a person slowly bleeds out.
MCHALE: You have to complete it before the person dies. OK, no, it's - the bakers don't know what they're supposed to make, but in the Crime Scene Kitchen, there's something - something has been baked there, and there's evidence left, like a little pile of cocoa powder or, like, some fondant on a fork or, like, some wax paper with some sort of pattern. And then they kind of go, I think it's this dessert. And then they go back, and they have to make it. And then we see - at the end of the round, we reveal what it was. And whoever gets closest, they kind of - they move forward. And whoever really screws it up, which happens a lot, they...
MCHALE: One team gets eliminated. So it's on Fox after Gordon Ramsay's show, "MasterChef."
SAGAL: Wow. And did they come up with the show, or did you come up with the show?
MCHALE: I don't know. I just host.
SAGAL: I love it. What's interesting to me is - I mean, forgive me for not going knowing you in your early career, but I first became aware of you when you were hosting "Talk Soup" - right? - which was a...
MCHALE: No, that was my early career.
SAGAL: OK. So "Talk Soup" was a show which was about other television shows...
SAGAL: ...Including, like, reality shows. So you would get - and you would just talk about, like, the crazy things that had happened on the various franchises and other networks. Did you actually like those shows? Were you excited to talk about them? Do you like reality TV?
MCHALE: No. No, there was some shows that I really liked, and then others were not great. And those were the most fun to make fun of.
MCHALE: And, you know, but there were really good reality shows. Like, "Dirty Jobs" to this day goes down as one of my favorite reality shows of all time.
SAGAL: Oh, yeah. It's rare for people who succeed in Hollywood to make fun of other people in the industry. So have you ever had the experience of, like, running into some of the people you talked trash about on that old show and them not being happy with you?
MCHALE: Without - the only person that got mad was Tyra Banks. And I have since talked to her, and she was cool. But everybody else, every single reality star, no matter who I made fun of, they would - if I met them, they would be like, thank you so much. My mom was so happy that you made fun of me on "Bachelor In Paradise." So - and I was like, yeah, when you were walking around naked and high, it was wonderful for us.
MCHALE: So then the Kardashians once in a while would, when they first started, would call when we would make fun of them. So Kris Kardashian was like a mom next door and our ball would go into her yard. And then she'd be like, this is mine. I'm keeping this.
MCHALE: And the president of the network would call me and be like, hey, can you just lay off the Kardashians this week? And I would be like, yeah, no problem. And then we'd go right back. And then they became the most famous people on the planet, and then they could care less.
SAGAL: Right. Before you got that gig, you were a standup primarily, right?
MCHALE: No, I didn't get started doing standup until after "The Soup" because my - one of my agents said, hey, if you go to comedy clubs and just introduce comics, you're going to see all your fans and, you know, make extra money because I wanted a pool. And so that's kind of how that came together. And so now I've been doing standup for 16 years. And at some point it's going to start working. And so...
MCHALE: Yeah. And so that's kind of how - I backed into that. I did - I was primarily an actor before "The Soup."
SAGAL: Right, right, right. I once heard this story that, like, you were on stage performing, and it went so badly the audience tried to physically hurt you.
MCHALE: Yeah, that definitely happened. I had to run out.
SAGAL: And what did you do that was so offensive to them?
MCHALE: I was making fun of Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and they were like, enough, enough.
CRISTELA ALONZO: Hold me back. Hold me back.
SAGAL: Cut his mic.
MCHALE: They jumped at - yeah, I had to run away. I think they got so mad - and I don't know what was going on. They clearly were not fans of "The Soup," and...
SAGAL: No. No.
MCHALE: ...I'm a person that can't stop going if I'm challenged. So each comic got 20 minutes. So I grabbed the clock that was the countdown clock, and I turned it around and said, I'm staying on stage until this clock is at zero. And they didn't like that. They did not like that at all. And I ran. I ran. And it was a very weird...
SAGAL: Yes, to physically flee. So you went on. You left that show, and you were on "Community," which was like this...
MCHALE: No. I did them at the same time. And I'm not kidding.
SAGAL: Oh, wow. You went back and forth from the set of "Community" to...
MCHALE: I would go to "Community," get my makeup on, run over to E, tape "The Soup," and then run back and shoot all day. It was good times.
SAGAL: Oh. And "Community" - I've heard these stories, like, the set of "Community" was weird.
MCHALE: (Laughter). I don't know who's ever told you that. It was harmonious. Yeah. It was a - it was bananas. But I am literally on a group text with the cast, and we talk to each other almost - probably every other day. If something comes up, we all comment on it. So we did a table read last year, and I burst out crying at the end of it because I missed everybody so much.
SAGAL: Oh, you did one of those reunion table reads that some of the shows were doing last year as sort of fundraising...
MCHALE: No, we did a reading of "Modern Family," dude.
SAGAL: OK, that also makes sense.
MCHALE: No, not for charity. We just wanted to make more money.
ALONZO: Two pools.
SAGAL: Absolutely. Well, Joel McHale, it is pretty much a joy to talk to you, but we have, in fact, asked you here to play a game this time we're calling...
BILL KURTIS: All About Community Theater.
MCHALE: Oh, nice.
SAGAL: Community theater. You - see? - you were the star of the sitcom "Community." We're going to ask you some questions about community theater. Answer two out of three questions correctly, you will win our prize for one of our listeners. Bill, who is Joel McHale playing for?
KURTIS: Julie Phillips of Madison, Wis.
SAGAL: All right. You ready to do this?
MCHALE: Julie, I just want to apologize in advance.
SAGAL: All right. Here's your first question. Community theater, as you know, does Broadway shows, but on a fraction of the budget. This can lead to some embarrassing moments, as in which of these which happened to during a Lawrence University production of "Into The Woods"? A, they couldn't afford a Big Bad Wolf costume, so they had to use the school mascot, thus Little Red Riding Hood was eaten by a giant chipmunk; B, in the scene where Jack sells his cow, Jack turned around too fast, and the cows leg flew off into the audience; or C, they didn't have understudies, so when one actor got sick, the other actors had to refer to the invisible prince?
MCHALE: The first two seem silly, so I'm going to say it's the last one because that sounds like something community theater people would do.
SAGAL: No, it was actually the cow leg.
SAGAL: It was the cow leg - flew off into the audience.
MCHALE: You're welcome, Julia (ph).
SAGAL: You have two more chances here. You have not lost. If you went to a community theater in Greenwich Village in 1974, you might have seen a 7-year-old Vin Diesel in his very first acting role. How did he get that part? A, the show's director caught him breaking into the theater and said she would not call the cops if he would be in the play; B, he was hiding from police in a tire when it got rolled on stage; or C, he just straight up had the best audition for the role of Murray in Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple"?
MCHALE: Wow. It's the first one.
SAGAL: It is the first one.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: Yes. He and his friends were delinquents. They broke into the theater. They were caught, and the lady said, hey, if you enroll in my theater course and perform in these plays, I will not report you to the cops.
All right. Get this last one right, and you win. In one particular community theater production of "Oliver!," the musical, the director fired the actor who was playing the villain, Bill Sikes, in the middle of the run. But he didn't have an understudy, so the fired actor got to do one more show. What happened? A, the audience was treated to a new Bill Sikes song in the musical called "The Director Sucks And Here's Why"; B, he kept calling the other actors by their real names and asking them why they were talking a fake British accents and bursting into song; or C, in the scene where Bill is shot to death, he got back up like a zombie, crawled across the stage and pretended to strangle young Oliver, then announced to the audience, Oliver is dead - and then announced to the audience, Oliver is dead, and stomped out of the theater.
MCHALE: He did it twice?
SAGAL: No, I just repeated myself because I hit my lamp.
MCHALE: Oh, sorry. That would have been really weird.
SAGAL: It would have been really weird.
MCHALE: No, we get your joke, sir. We got it the first time.
SAGAL: It would be funny if he did it, walked out of the theater, came back and said, no, wait a minute, did it again just to emphasize the point.
MCHALE: Yeah. You already - it's already ruined.
MCHALE: Yeah. All right. So in that case, I would say it's the last one because that was the last scene of the thing.
SAGAL: Exactly right.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: That was his exit, and that's what he did. Exactly right. Very well done. Apparently - and apparently the kid playing Oliver was like, what do I do? This is crazy. And he finally decided the only thing to do was to play along, so he went, ah, and died - died, in quotation.
MCHALE: That is so great.
SAGAL: It was the best production of "Oliver!" ever - right? - because Oliver is a whiny little brat. You want him killed. Let's admit it.
MCHALE: OK, that's not where I was going.
SAGAL: Bill, how did Joel McHale do on our quiz?
KURTIS: Well, here, the "Crime Scene Kitchen" cries out for more gruel. More, sir. You may not realize it, Joel...
MCHALE: Bam. Bam.
KURTIS: ...But you're a winner. You're a winner - two out of three.
SAGAL: (Laughter) That was amazing, Bill. That was...
MCHALE: Oh, my gosh. This is a dream come true, and I'm not kidding. I do listen to this show, and I cannot believe I'm on it. So this is crazy.
SAGAL: You did it. You did it.
KURTIS: Come back.
MCHALE: I did it.
SAGAL: Joel McHale's new show, "Crime Scene Kitchen," airs Wednesdays on Fox. Joel McHale, thank you so much for joining us on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
MCHALE: Yeah. Thank you so much.
SAGAL: Bye-bye, Joel.
MCHALE: Bye, you guys. Thank you.
SAGAL: I really appreciate it. Take care.
JESSI KLEIN: Bye.
MCHALE: See you. Bye. Bye.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AT LEAST IT WAS HERE")
THE 88: (Singing) I can't count the reasons I should stay. One by one...
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