Joel McHale’s got the right spirit: while hosting a major awards show, be funny.
The “Community” star and host of “The Soup” is tackling his first big live hosting stint on Saturday as the emcee of the Independent Spirit Awards, that beachy, breezy fete of indie filmdom, and he gave PopcornBiz a preview of what he has in mind – kinda.
“I'm not going to tell you any of the jokes because I want them all to be surprises, but most of it will be in Spanish, just as a challenge,” jokes McHale.
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He’s also not revealing whether he’ll go for the guests’ jugulars, Ricky Gervais-style, even though McHale himself is known for not pulling any punches skewering Hollywood and reality stars on his E! show. “My main concern, really, is just making the jokes really funny,” he says. “People are like, 'Are you going to really go hard at them?' I say ‘I don't know, just as long it's funny.’ I don't really care what the jokes are. Hopefully there will be no major injuries.”
McHale’s made himself a student of celebrity emcees across the board. “The best hosts are the people that keep the show moving along and keep the ball in the air – meaning you're the glue that keeps the show moving,” he says. “As long as you can do that I think you're going to be somewhat okay. Obviously, your jokes at the top need to be funny, and you can't mumble.”
Among the best of the best, in his mind: “Chris Rock hosting the MTV Movie Awards. I really liked Dave Letterman's hosting of the Oscars, and Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin's hosting was incredible, and Billy Crystal for so many years and Jon Stewart and Ellen DeGeneres were awesome. Who else? Kathy Griffin – I always like what she does.”
While the Spirit Awards have been considerably more freewheeling than the average Industry backslappery (past hosts have included the witheringly wry John Waters and scatological Sarah Silverman), McHale says “that doesn't make me casual about it, but that nature of it means that you can a little looser and you can get away with more, probably. I'm not saying that I'm trying to get away with most risqué and sexiest jokes that I can. The only thing that's my main concern is making sure that the jokes are funny. You can be as innovative or as edgy, you can do all those things, but if it's not funny it's not funny.”
“Hopefully you won't be disappointed,” he adds, “but don't be surprised if you are."