Joel McHale aims to im­prove you with his new book and sit­com

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Joel McHale wants you to know he isn’t wag­ing war on mil­len­ni­als. On his new CBS sit­com, “The Great In­doors,” he plays Jack, a globe-trot­ting wildlife cor­re­spon­dent for an out­door mag­a­zine who is called back to its Chicago head­quar­ters to be the desk-bound boss to a team of 20-some­things staffing the mag­a­zine’s web­site.

To them, an ex­cit­ing ex­pe­di­tion is re­cov­er­ing a pass­word, while, for out-of-touch, dig­i­tally chal­lenged Jack, a killer dat­ing app is the near­est sin­gles bar. Me­di­at­ing this cul­ture clash is Roland, the mag­a­zine’s founder and a leg­endary out­doors­man played by Stephen Fry, and Roland’s daugh­ter Brooke (Su­san­nah Field­ing), an old flame of Jack’s to whom he now has to re­port.

That’s all pretty clear. But “The Great In­doors,” air­ing Thurs­day at 8:30 p.m. EDT, pre­miered last week on a wave of mis­un­der­stand­ing. Con­sider the ag­grieved re­porter at this sum­mer’s Tele­vi­sion Crit­ics As­so­ci­a­tion con­fer­ence, who dur­ing the “Great In­doors” ses­sion told its pro­duc­ers and stars, “You come out here and you are, like, ‘Ha-ha. Mil­len­ni­als are so sen­si­tive and PC,’” then wailed, “That’s so nega­tive!”

And con­sider some early re­views of the show, which McHale, dur­ing a re­cent in­ter­view, ad­dresses with a wry smile: “They say we’re mak­ing fun of mil­len­ni­als. But the show is about THREE gen­er­a­tions, all work­ing to­gether! Every­one’s mak­ing fun of EVERY­ONE! “I find it funny that peo­ple are get­ting up­set,” he says, “es­pe­cially mil­len­ni­als up­set for be­ing por­trayed as sen­si­tive.”

Rapid-fire de­liv­ery

McHale has a rapid-fire, snark-mar­i­nated de­liv­ery, as any­one knows from his 12-year run as host of E! net­work’s “The Soup.” Or as any­one will re­dis­cover after pick­ing up his wag­gish new mem­oir-and-self­help-guide, “Thanks for the Money - How to Use My Life Story to Be­come the Best Joel McHale You Can Be” (G.P. Put­nam’s Sons). It comes with il­lus­tra­tions, quizzes, lis­ti­cles and cheeky foot­notes.

His rea­son for writ­ing it, he drolly ex­plains in its open­ing pages, is to pay for im­prove­ments to his home swim­ming pool, which, to his shame, ini­tially lacked a deep end. Was there any other rea­son he put pen to pa­per?

“A Jacuzzi,” he replies, then cor­rects him­self: “Hot tub; Jacuzzi is a brand.” Per­haps re­flect­ing his cer­tainty the book will sell, the hot tub in­stal­la­tion and pool-deep­en­ing are al­ready taken care of, as the book (spoiler alert!) in­di­cates in its fi­nal para­graphs.

Very shrewd: A new TV series and a new book ar­riv­ing in sync - “or, as they say in the Old West, sime-yu-tay-nee-us­sly,” McHale drawls with a look of sat­is­fac­tion. “We put it all to­gether into one huge scrump­tious wed­ding buf­fet.”

And, for the very last time, peo­ple: He doesn’t hate mil­len­ni­als! That’s just a sad mis­con­cep­tion.

And not the first one. Con­sider “Com­mu­nity” (his cult com­edy hit that aired five sea­sons on NBC, then an­other on Ya­hoo, from 2009 to 20015). It was first greeted by some crit­ics, says McHale, “as ‘just a bunch of ref­er­ence hu­mor with peo­ple sit­ting around a ta­ble.’ Yeah, that’s the FIRST episode! But don’t worry! There will be oth­ers and they’ll be about other things.”

Mis­un­der­stand­ings

An­other mis­un­der­stand­ing: Peo­ple think­ing that the char­ac­ters he plays re­flect his own life. When he was play­ing Jeff Winger on “Com­mu­nity,” he says, “Peo­ple were like, ‘That’s just you.’ Well, I’m mar­ried with kids. Jeff Winger is a wom­an­iz­ing nar­cis­sis­tic lawyer who’s stuck at a com­mu­nity col­lege. So, no, that’s NOT me.”

On “The Great In­doors,” the char­ac­ter Jack “ob­vi­ously LOOKS like me and SOUNDS like me. But some of the CLOTHES ...” He shakes his head dis­mis­sively. Be­sides, he’s far more tech-savvy than his char­ac­ter, even though he knows it’s get­ting harder to keep up: “When I look at the Top 10 songs on iTunes, I’m like, ‘Oh, I rec­og­nize ONE.’”

But what do you ex­pect from a guy who’s turn­ing 45 this month? “Now that I have two chil­dren and I am very busy, I miss a lot of stuff,” he ad­mits. “I have a pile of video games I want to play. I just got ‘Bat­tle­field 1’ that I RE­ALLY want to play. So I guess in that sense I’m right there with the kids.”

Maybe too much so. “I do that thing where I’ll meet some­one and I go, ‘It seems like we’re the same age.’ And they’re like, ‘No, Joel: I’m 22! I was born when you met your wife!’ And I’m like, ‘Oh. Right. I’m not in my 20s any­more.’” No, not for a while. But that doesn’t mean he’s got a grudge against peo­ple who are. — AP

In this Oct. 28, 2016 photo, ac­tor and au­thor Joel McHale poses for a por­trait in New York to pro­mote his book, “Thanks for the Money: How to Use My Life Story to Be­come the Best Joel McHale You Can Be.” — AP

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