Whether he’s cracking wise as host of The Soup or as vain ex-lawyer Jeff Winger on the wacky community college-set sitcom Community, now in its fourth season on NBC, Joel McHale looks good enough to be mistaken for gay. Is it any wonder that men throw themselves at him?
By Brandon Voss
The Advocate: What does the support of the gay audience mean to you?
Joel McHale: Community needs all the help it can get, so thank God for our gay fans. Our young gay fans especially are the loudest and most Internet-savvy. That also speaks to the quality of our show, which I think is highly intelligent.
Are you familiar with the gay Community fan fiction?
Oh, yeah, but I haven’t read too much of the fan fiction. I’ve seen a lot of the fan paintings and drawings, which are extraordinary. I’ve also seen and tweeted a bunch of the shipper videos, where fans have reedited Community footage to create their own stories.
If you tried your hand at slash fiction, which male character would you pair with Jeff Winger?
I’d go with Magnitude, whose catchphrase is “Pop! Pop!” So I think you know what he’d say during sex.
Is it fair to say that Community has gotten gayer over the years?
That’s probably true. The first three seasons all came out of [creator and former show-runner] Dan Harmon’s brain, and instead of creating a traditional gay character, he went in the direction of Jim Rash’s character, Dean Pelton, where you’re not really sure what’s going on with his sexuality — other than the fact that he likes to play dress-up and has a Dalmatian fetish.
Is the show leading up to a coming-out episode for the dean?
It’s leading to a graphic gay sex scene with a lot of costume changes. No, I think it’s better to keep it ambiguous. In the fantastical world of the show, which has a tradition of flipping things upside down, you don’t want to remove those questions because you want to keep these people interesting. It’s funnier to keep people guessing. If the writers did decide to define the dean, we’d better have a really good reason, and then we’d better explore that further.
The dean constantly flirts with your character. Do guys ever hit on you?
Much like in Say Anything, guys usually stand outside my house with a boombox over their head blasting the Indigo Girls. Actually, guys sometimes will tweet me, “I’m in L.A. Staying at such-and-such hotel. What do you think?” Of course, it all depends on the quality of the hotel. Back when I had just moved to L.A., before I was on any show, I was meeting a friend at a bar connected to this restaurant we went to. When I got there, I was the only one in the bar. While I was messing with my phone, I didn’t notice the whole bar fill up with men. Guys kept coming up, asking, “What’s going on, man?” I figured they’d seen the commercials I was in. Then I realized that these men were coming on to me because I was alone in a gay bar.
What’s the best way for a straight man to handle that situation?
Just a very quick, courteous blowjob.
You once told The Advocate that some people believe you are gay because you dress so well.
Oh, I still see that on Twitter every day. It’s flattering. I always find it really weird when guys flip out over someone thinking they might be gay. If a guy gets offended by that, there’s something’s wrong with him. I take it as a compliment.
Do you have a dude crush?
Ooh, boy, I have so many. Josh Gad. Brian Williams. Patrick Stewart. Nathan Fillion. Kobe Bryant. Chaz Bono.
OK, now you’re just saying names.
Maybe. I’m not picky.
You have a recurring reality show clip segment on The Soup called “Gay Shows.” How do you make a gay joke funny without being offensive?
You have to be intelligent, you have to laugh with, and you have to meet the clip where it is. I know that sounds weird and vague, but it’s a case-by-case situation. We’re mostly commenting on what’s happening on those shows — like RuPaul sticking cake pops into glory holes on RuPaul’s Drag Race — and not on someone’s orientation.
What stands out as your favorite “Gay Shows” moment?
Well, I really do love RuPaul. RuPaul is a genius, and his show is always engaging. He’s come on The Soup before and is game for almost anything. But who’s the gay man who got a lot of fame out of being Rachel’s assistant on The Rachel Zoe Project?
Yeah. This wasn’t even really a gay moment, but what comes to mind is the clip where Rachel’s like, “Brad. I have come undone. I am. Undone.” And then you see Brad in the next room, saying, “Uh, Rachel’s undone.” And they basically just keep repeating themselves. I don’t know why, but for some reason I just thought that was a really, really funny clip.
You take your shirt off quite a bit on Community. Do you ever feel exploited?
No, I’ll do anything for ratings. I mean, was Michael Fassbender exploited when he did Shame? Because it’s exactly the same thing.
Screen caps of your nude scene from the DVD extras of Ted were all over the gay blogs recently.
Wow, maybe I should start posting photos of myself naked with “Community” written across my lower stomach. I was actually aware of that because of the number of tweets I got about it. As long as the comments about my body are positive, I don’t mind.
So why did you use a butt double for your nude scene in What’s Your Number?
Because they didn’t give me any advance notice! All of a sudden on set they were like, “Hey, you wanna do this?” No. You have to pay for this ass, my friend.
The Advocate, April/May 2013 issue; extended online version.