OnMilwaukee.com caught up with snark king and budding movie actor Joel McHale. The host of E! Entertainment Television's weekly show "The Soup" hits up The Riverside Theatre tonight at 8 p.m.
He talked about reality TV, potential corrections to his Wikipedia entry and his upcoming movie with Matt Damon, all while maneuvering through L.A. traffic and avoiding high speed chases.
OnMilwaukee.com: Before I start, I need to warn you Joel: famous people don't like Milwaukee. George Carlin and Charles Barkley were arrested here. President Teddy Roosevelt was actually shot here. Do you think you can stay out of trouble while you're in Milwaukee?
Joel McHale: As long as you ply me with beer and cheese, I'm happy. If that gets me arrested then arrest me 100 times!
OMC: About 50 years ago JFK's FCC Chairman famously declared that TV is a vast wasteland. That man, Newt Minow, is from Milwaukee. Do you think if he had a face-to-face with Audrina from "The Hills" it would change his mind?
JM: It would blow his mind. It would be too much. It would be like raw sodium hitting water. There would be an explosion and blood and Spencer Pratt (of "The Hills") would move on to his next victim and receive messages from his creepy, flesh-colored beard.
OMC: Are E! network functions awkward? Are you always worried about bumping into people you make fun of, like say, Ryan Seacrest or Denise Richards?
JM: Well that little guy Ryan Seacrest comes up to my belt buckle. And Denise Richards' show is cancelled. And she can't get her ass through the door. So you know, I'm pretty safe.
OMC: Joel what was your reaction when you heard that Kathie Lee Gifford was returning to morning TV?
JM: Oh we threw a party, it was like Cinco De Mayo. You know what, I've been on (the "Today" show) and Kathie Lee is pretty great. She's totally nice and totally cool. She enjoys the show ("The Soup.") She actually listens to what you're saying. Which I have to give her credit on, because there are a sh*tload of celebrities that do not listen to anything that anybody says to them unless they are complimenting them or telling them where to go next.
OMC: Milwaukee has never gotten a chance to host a season of "The Real World." But now the "Real Housewives" series is expanding. Do you think a version of "Real Housewives" in a blue-collar, rustbelt city like Milwaukee has some promise?
JM: I think it'd be better if they brought in the "Real Housewives" of the OC to Milwaukee. Their hotel would be stormed much like Frankenstein's castle. And that seems like engaging television to me.
OMC: Now Joel, you just did a movie with Matt Damon
JM: Yes I did, it was great.
OMC: Did he end up annoying you with a lot of questions about TV?
JM: No, Matt Damon is awe-some. Awwww-some. He's a father like I am, but since I have to watch reality TV, I have an excuse. But you know he is way too busy making A-List movies to bother with TV. Whereas I'm wondering like, "why isn't Flavor Flav back on the air?"
OMC: It's the start of the TV season - are there any new shows that you are particularly looking forward to?
JM: "Gossip Girl" has been the gift that is continuing to give. But it is no "Viva Laughlin." I don't know if you know that one, ever see "Viva Laughlin?"
OMC: That I did not see, no.
JM: Oh, Dan. Dan, I want you to go to YouTube after we talk. Type in "Viva Laughlin," as in Laughlin, Nevada. And you will go, "Oh my Lord, how did this make it on the air?" It's a musical. It's a one-hour, weekly musical.
OMC: Football is big in Wisconsin and you played D-1 football (at the University of Washington.) Care to tell us a little bit about your football career?
JM: I was bad; really, really bad and I made the defense look awesome when I was on scout offense.
OMC: But you were bad on a national championship team.
JM: Well I was actually on the team after that. That's erroneous. I know it's on Wikipedia. There's a bunch of crap on Wikipedia. Can you correct that? Like it says there, "He was a member of Theta Chi fraternity." Yeah I was a member of it for like four-and-a-half weeks. I left because I couldn't stand it!
OMC: Do you ever run into Greg Kinnear (who hosted a show called Talk Soup in the 1990s, a predecessor of The Soup?) Do you think he's jealous of the wealth of reality shows you have compared to him?
JM: Well I ran into Greg Kinnear at the premier of one of his movies. That guy I'm sure is just thrilled to be off of basic cable and making massive and really good movies and getting Oscar nominations. Anybody who can do a Dick Vermeil impression, and make it awesome and real, oh my Lord!
OMC: What reality show celebrity should be most proud of their children?
JM: Well I'm sure Tyra Banks is already proud of her unborn children. She already has planned out their awesome, fierce careers.
OMC: "The Hills" is a very popular show. Do you have any ideas for a spin-off ?
JM: Uh, yeah, call it "The Sh*t." No! Call it "The Sewer." These people are some of the biggest celebrities in the world and they don't do anything. I mean Paris Hilton, she's famous for being a Hilton and for blowing a guy on tape. That's why she became famous. These people don't have any of those things! But God love them, and they make "The Soup."
OMC: Anything else you want to say about your act and what you talk about, maybe it's not all TV?
JM: I talk a lot about my family in it. Then I get into pop culture and "The Soup" and how I feel about things. That's basically how it goes. We're doing a show in Waukegan as well and I have a ton of relatives in the Chicago area. I think some of are going to make the trip to Milwaukee as well. So I'm sure I'll be talking about them.
OMC: Can you tell us about your movie with Matt Damon?
JM: It's based on a book called "The Informant" by a guy named Kurt Eichenwald. Now keep in mind it's a dark-comedy. It's directed by Steven Soderbergh. It's about a guy, an executive at Archer Daniels Midland Corporation. They're out of Decateur, Ill., where we shot the movie. This executive that Matt Damon plays, he went undercover for the FBI and secretly recorded these people who were breaking laws and price-fixing different agricultural products like lysine and corn syrup and stuff like that. Now that doesn't sound very hilarious.
But the character, Matt Damon's character, the real guy in the book was bipolar and manic depressive. He was truly nuts. He would wake up at like four in the morning start digging holes in his yard looking for tunnels. This guy was a powerful executive making a lot of money and some of the stuff he did was so crazy and it's all in the movie, it's such a crazy story.
It was just one of the greatest moments of my life. To be able to shoot a movie with Steven Soderbergh is just an absolute thrill.
OMC: And Matt Damon.
JM: There's a really good reason why he is an A-list movie star because he is an incredible actor, dramatic and comedic, and he is about of nice of a guy as you're ever going to encounter.
OMC: I wish you luck with the show and safe travel. Enjoy your time in the heartland!
JM: Thanks man, I can't wait to get out to the heartland and...hey here comes a high speed chase right by me!
OMC: Be careful!
JM: There were like literally (to someone in his car) what was that, like eight police cars there? Seven? A high speed chase went right by me.
OMC: What freeway are you on?
JM: We're on the 101 heading towards downtown, in between Hollywood and downtown.
OMC: Stay safe, Joel.
JM: Thanks man. I always carry my Glock with me.