Some folks just ooze the funny. As the longtime, hilarious host of E!'s "The Soup" and star of the hot NBC comedy "Community," comedian/actor/dad Joel McHale cracks us up with a mere raised eyebrow. But when asked if he always knew what he'd end up doing for a living, McHale begs to differ. "Being asked if you're funny -- that's such a subjective thing, because a lot of the day I spend thinking, 'Boy, I am not funny and I feel like I've tricked everybody,'" he says.
Well, we're lucky he's tricked us. This devoted working dad of two sons, ages 5 and 2, brings his kids to the "Community" set whenever he can and credits his wife for being a "super mom" who holds it all together when he's in the throes of taping two shows and touring as a stand-up comic. From the sound of it, she goes toe-to-toe with him, too. "For a while, my wife would joke when Ryan Seacrest came on TV," he says. "She'd ask [our 5-year-old son] Eddie who it was, and he'd just go, 'Daddy.' She found that very funny -- as did I."
We were lucky enough to get on the horn with McHale to chat about how his kids inspire his work.
momlogic: Do your kids provide a lot of fodder for your day job?
Joel McHale: Oh my gosh. They make me laugh out loud and in the most unexpected ways. I have two boys ... and it's the greatest thing that's ever happened to me on earth. They are so, so fun that I include a lot of what they say to me in my stand-up act. Just like Eddie walked up to me one day when he was four and he goes, "Daddy, why are we connected to numbers?"
ml: And you're like, "What?!"
JM: I was like, "Why are we connected?" He said, "Yeah." And I was like, "I don't know." And he goes, "Do you know how high I can count?" I said no. And he goes, "I can count until you're dead."
ml: You are kidding me!
JM: But then I was like, "How high is that?" And he goes, "Eleven hundred." Without even pausing.
ml: That's hilarious!
JM: Halloween alone was such a hilarious time, because I was trying to keep them away from the sugar, and then realized they needed sugar to make it through the evening. My younger son had an enormous train costume that he loved, but put on about three hours before we started trick-or-treating. And he just announced he was not going to eat. He said, "I do not want to get this costume dirty." And I said, "You're going to probably want to eat something, since we're not going trick-or-treating for hours." But he said no and, of course, around an hour and a half into trick-or-treating, he's like, I don't think I want to wear this anymore. And I was like, "I don't blame you." It was huge!
ml: Was he Thomas the Train? You had to dose him to keep him going, huh?
JM: Last year he was Henry. The thing is that Henry is also blue and he's nearly the same shape and size as Thomas, so people were walking up to him while we were trick-or-treating last year and going like, "Hey, Thomas." And he'd just go, "Like, I'm Henry."
ml: "Yeah, dude, what do you know?"
JM: Yeah -- "How dare you?" And this year, he just wanted to be an even larger green-colored train. But it's stuff like this that inspires my material every day, and you know you only hear phrases like that when you're a kid, or when you're older. Like "Oh, kids say the darndest things" -- and boy, do they! They make me laugh so hard I can't believe it. It's the greatest time of my life, being with them. You can cut this out if you think it's too gross, but when Eddie was, I don't know, one, he was running around the house naked and he farted and burst out laughing. I feel like that is like the periodic table [of humor] and it gives you carbon. It's the first element, the most basic building block of comedy where, even if someone has no sense of what jokes are at that point, [they] can make a noise come out of themselves and find it amusing. I was like, "Oh, Eddie's got a sense of humor!" He found that funny and I think that's some sort of weird, very basic building block.
ml: That's great! By the way, "What the Kids Are Watching" on "The Soup" is absolutely hysterical. Do you watch those shows with your kids and then use any funny material you might see?
JM: Well, Eddie is pretty train-centric these days. We are to the point now where we watch train documentaries with him. And like even though I like it, like he is not into "Yo Gabba Gabba" or those types of shows. I like "Yo Gabba Gabba." I want to be on "Yo Gabba Gabba."
Need more Joel? Don't miss "Community" Thursday nights at 8 on NBC!