At this time last year, Joel McHale was freaking out. That's because he was preparing to host the annual White House Correspondent's Dinner, where he would be performing in front of undoubtedly the most powerful audience he'd ever seen.
"I don't think I'll ever be nervous about anything again, ever," says the long-time host of The Soup. "I could be defusing a nuclear bomb and I'll be like, 'This is easy compared to doing the White House dinner.'"
The actor/comedian/host is known for his calm, cool demeanor and razor-sharp wit, but even after two decades in the entertainment industry, McHale found himself star struck.
"The thing about it is you have dinner before the show, and you're trying not to psych yourself out while you're sitting next to the First Lady for two hours," he says. "Then on top of it the President of the United States -- the guys who could order a drone strike on my family if he felt like it -- is opening for me, and he's an honestly funny guy who is good at telling jokes. But at least I can say that the president opened for me at a comedy show."
This weekend, McHale will perform in front of a slightly less terrifying audience at Mystic Lake Casino. While he'll be performing onstage this Saturday, he's recently begun to dominate the internet with the rebirth of the cult hit Community, which was beloved by fans but brushed off by critics when it resided on the terrestrial NBC. Now that the show has moved to Yahoo, the "us versus them" stigma that followed the show and empowered fans is no longer a factor. Still, McHale says the show itself continues to exceed even his expectations.
"Dan [Harmon, creator of Community], said he wouldn't change the show and he hasn't. It's the same show as it was before," he says. "The great thing about being on Yahoo is that we don't have to worry about the ratings each week. At NBC, it was like we'd trend worldwide on Twitter but then our ratings would only be okay, so we had to worry about whether or not we'd be around another season. With Yahoo -- and I mean this as a compliment -- it's like there's an 18-year-old billionaire on our side. They're really excited, they've got the money to finance it, and they aren't as worried about the old Nielson ratings system. I love it, Yahoo is great."
While Community continues to blaze the trail for the next generation of "television," the vehicle that made McHale a household name, The Soup, continues to thrive. For over 10 years, the show has been the ultimate "fuck you" to reality television, but in the most endearing and hilarious way possible. And while the past year has experienced a massive turnover in TV hosts, McHale insists he isn't going anywhere.
"I'll be at The Soup until I die, which is probably only a few days from now," he says with his signature sarcasm. "Seriously though, I love doing the show because I get to be with my friends and it doesn't take up a lot of my time. I just signed a new contract, so I don't have any sort of exit strategy in mind."
For fans of his witty snark, that's great news.
IF YOU GO:
Mystic Lake Casino Showroom
Saturday, April 11
8 p.m., $49-$59