Joel McHale thanks you for your money at Dayton Funny Bone

photo: Joel McHale, holding a bear on The Great Indoors, warns his stand-up audience of intense laughs

By Amanda Dee

Joel McHale is one of those first-name, last-name people, the ones whose first and last names seem to be permanently conjoined. Perhaps that effect is produced from seeing the names side-by-side, again and again, on the big and small screens (or maybe Dayton City Paper just needed extra time to become more intimately acquainted, which is perfectly fine with me—I mean Dayton City Paper).

After 12 seasons hosting The Soup, a satirical pop culture commentary on E!, and six seasons starring on NBC’s cult favorite Community, Joel McHale moved on to a season on The Great Indoors, which CBS canceled this year.

But he and his comedy are stubborn—he rarely stops writing jokes because performing is what he wants to do, and he feels blessed to have the chance to keep doing it. Which leads him to weekends at comedy clubs across the country, where he conducts jokes through the energy of the crowd.

Dayton City Paper talked with Joel McHale about his recently released book, “Thanks for the Money: How to Use My Life Story to Become the Best Joel McHale You Can Be,” existential terror, and “Spy Kids 4.”

What’s it like in a day in the life of Joel McHale?

Joel McHale: Well, boy, I get up at 2:30 in the morning and then that’s when I start my woodworking. As you know, I am a professional birdhouse maker—that’s how I get the majority of my income. I do that for 16 hours, and then I go to my unicycle lesson, and then I kiss my kids good night, and I drink six bottles of wine. That’s usually how it goes.

That’s usually how my Thursdays go, as well.

JM: No, that’s a Monday. Thursday’s completely different. Thursday, I fly to Hawaii and I surf for five minutes and then I fly back.

Your book, it’s about being the best Joel McHale you can be, so what is the best Joel McHale you can be?

JM: That’s like saying feeding a pizza the best pizza it can taste. I am already me, so I guess being the best Joel McHale that I can be is getting enough sleep, cutting myself off after two glasses of wine, getting some exercise, loving [my] family, hopefully, and trying not to pick my cuticles as much.

Is that all you can hope for everyone reading your book, as well?

JM: I think if the world had better cuticle care, it would be a much nicer place. …People are going to have to find that out themselves by purchasing the book. See what I did? I was able to take that and fold it in on itself.

Is there anything that you wish people knew about the real Joel McHale?

JM: No. I’m trying to keep it all hidden.

Good thing you wrote half a memoir. 

JM: You could tell them I have a knife collection and a sword collection. I also have a humidor at my house that I got a few months ago. So, right on.

I do have a question—that’s not related to the book—that I have to ask you: what was it like in ‘Spy Kids 4’? I’m an avid Spy Kids fan and I just need to know. 

JM: It was a ball. I love Robert Rodriguez. I loved Jessica Alba and the kids. … I’m glad Robert Rodriguez took pity on me and put me in this movie.

And you also recently got to meet Scully and Mulder, so how was that?

JM: Well, I worked with them, so I got to meet them multiple times. That was one of those crazy things where I couldn’t believe I was in The X-Files. I could not fucking believe it. I am such a big fan of the show, and all of a sudden I was there, calling people Mulder and calling people Scully. It was like I had won an auction item that was like, YOU GET TO BE IN THE X-FILES. YOU GET TO SAY SCULLY AND MULDER, OUT LOUD, ON CAMERA.

It sounds like you are a very busy man. What pushes you through, what gives you that determination?

JM: Fear. I have that fight or flight thing going on in my brain pretty much 23 hours a day. Then the other hour, I’m just passed out.

What can people expect when you come back to Dayton?

JM: I really like Dayton. One of my best friends is from there and he is one of the guys who helped me with the book. We knew that Dayton was big for reading, so we thought, let’s go to Dayton. Good crowd. They have lots of books.

And do you have anything else you want to add about the show or buying the book?

JM: No, I would say use money to buy it. And please come to my stand-up show. You might hurt your stomach—you might bust a stomach muscle from laughing. …I guess, go Cavaliers!

Joel McHale performs Saturday and Sunday, June 17 and 18 at Dayton Funny Bone, 88 Plum St. in Beavercreek. Shows start at 7:30 and 10 p.m. Saturday and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, doors one hour prior. Dinner tickets are $52. For more information, please call 937.429.5233 or visit

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Reach DCP Editor Amanda Dee at

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