He’s loud. He’s witty. He has a mini vendetta against Ryan Seacrest. Joel McHale, host of the celebrity roasting show The Soup and star of NBC’s “Community,” headlined the College Union Board’s (CUB) annual spring comedy show on April 16 in the Kendall Main Stage Theatre.
McHale appeared with his typical repertoire of popular cultural critiques, poking fun extensively at his own network, E!, which he referred to as the “ehh” network. His routine mirrored the style of “The Soup,” which he embodied as the “sanitation team of television.” McHale kept the audience in hysterics with his sarcastic brand of comedy, charged by his imitations and mocking commentary. Addressing everything from his encounter with the Kardashians to Ryan Seacrest’s height and sexuality, McHale’s energetic deliverance blended charm with snarky observations, occasionally followed by a victory jig around the stage after a particularly accurate, and consequently offensive, joke.
No celebrity seemed safe from McHale’s blunt dissection of public personas. He likened Tyra Banks’ fear of dolphins to a fear of glaciers, demonstrated Hugh Hefner’s waddle complete with sound effects and recounted his fear of contracting “hand Chlamydia” after shaking hands with Bret Michaels.
Hitting a little closer to home, McHale characterized “The Jersey Shore” as the “show that ruined the solar system.”
“‘The Jersey Shore’ is a bigger disservice to the Italian people than the Olive Garden or the mafia,” he said. “Snookie gets paid $10,000 an appearance. So go drop out, kill yourselves.”
In an interview preceding the show, McHale said he often prefers college-age audiences because they tend to be the most familiar with his cultural references.
“For the most part, most college kids know what I’m talking about,” he said, after recounting an unfortunate corporate event where the audience was unfamiliar with Tyra Banks.
“The people are younger, healthier, for the most part less drunk … they are young and full of energy. They haven’t been crushed yet.”
Judging from the resounding laughter, Kendall’s audience was no exception to McHale’s success with college crowds. The current star of NBC’s “Community,” however, said he hadn’t always planned to do live performances.
“Stand-up and hosting were two things I never planned on doing,” he said. “I always wanted to be an actor on TV or movies.”
With his natural presence on stage, conversing and occasionally antagonizing the audience, it’s hard to imagine him doing anything else.
Television wasn’t the only target of the night. The College’s public art also provoked McHale’s commentary.
“We’ll put four balls,” he said imitating the rationale for the art. “That’ll scare Mike Huckabee something fierce.”
Opening for McHale was Rory Albanese, the four-time Emmy-winning executive producer of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central.
Contrasting McHale’s hyper, fast-talking style, Albanese established a relaxed familiarity with the audience th1rough storytelling, complemented by his “sexy pose,” which he accurately characterized as “a little like lunging in a women’s ’80s aerobics class.”
His act revolved around his slightly sarcastic patriotism, highlighted by his love of McDonald’s and mockery of Canada as the “crazy grandma living in the attic.” His explanation of the world’s hatred for America by providing the audience with an analogy elicited a particularly loud response.
“New Jersey is to America as America is to the world,” he said.
Albanese also exercised his pre-performance research on the College by questioning the logic of Tuesday “party nights” and the chalking on the sidewalk.
“They write mean stuff on the sidewalk and party on Tuesday nights,” he said. “This place is a fucking freak show.”
Katie Brenzel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.