Comedian and TV personality Joel McHale comes to Beaver Creek, Feb. 4 | VailDaily.com

Comedian and TV personality Joel McHale comes to Beaver Creek, Feb. 4

Jessica Smith
jsmith@summitdaily.com

Growing up in Seattle, Joel McHale said he learned to ski and mostly spent time at resorts in the Northwest. He and his wife have also taken their two sons skiing, “and they universally hated it, which means we should definitely go soon,” McHale quipped.

Joel McHale first strolled across my screen as the confident, charming, secretly sweet yet slightly misguided Jeff Winger during the pilot episode of "Community." As anyone within a 10-foot radius of me knows, that is now one of my all-time favorite shows.

Therefore, it was with great excitement that I heard his distinctive voice come over my phone during a recent interview. Throughout the course of the interview, McHale touched on his particular brand of comedy, some favorite moments from "Community" and what audiences can expect from his stand-up performance at the Vilar Performing Arts Center today at 7:30 p.m.

Spoiler: There may or may not be pyrotechnics. Second spoiler: They're likely the verbal kind, but still.

Performance background

The lovably, quirky "Community" lasted six seasons, due much in part to an extremely loyal fan base and that type of viral popularity that gives quirky projects life nowadays. McHale was a large part of that success, along with other strong members of the ensemble cast, including Alison Brie, Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Yvettee Nicole Brown, Gillian Jacobs and Chevy Chase.

Playing Jeff Winger to a T, McHale is no stranger to the snarky-yet-lovable type of persona on screen. Just last year, he wrapped up more than 10 years with E!'s "The Soup," a show in which he related various celebrity and Hollywood news items with more than a bit of snark and plenty of goofy recurring characters and famous guest stars to boot.

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McHale has also appeared in a number of films, alongside actors ranging from Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore ("Blended") to Robin Williams ("A Merry Friggin' Christmas") and Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis ("Ted").

Most recently, audiences can catch McHale as Jack in CBS' "The Great Indoors," in which he plays a rugged outdoorsman who struggles to relate to young non-outdoorsy members of his magazine staff.

Coming to Colorado

While this will be McHale's first time in this part of the Rocky Mountains, he and his family have spent time in Aspen in the past. Growing up in Seattle, McHale said he learned to ski and mostly spent time at resorts in the Northwest. He and his wife have also taken their two sons skiing, "and they universally hated it, which means we should definitely go soon," McHale quipped.

His plans for skiing here during this year's strong snow season were unfortunately derailed by his busy shooting schedule, which requires him to be back for "The Great Indoors" on Monday morning. While McHale doesn't claim quite the level of ruggedness of his lumberjack-y outdoorsman character from "The Great Indoors," he said he enjoys plenty of outdoor activities.

"I do climb mountains with my wife," he said. "I climbed Long's Peak years ago — that's not that impressive, I know — and then my wife and I will be attempting to climb Mount Rainier for a second time this summer."

McHale added that he owns plenty of plaid shirts and boots to at least look the part.

"You'll love my ski humor," he added dryly. "It's hilarious."

Prepare for a show

For his upcoming stand-up show at the Vilar Performing Arts Center, McHale promises a wide variety as material.

"I talk a lot about my family in the stand-up, I talk a lot about politics, well, relatively a lot. I still talk a lot about pop culture," he said. "I'm really all over the map. The only thing I don't hit on are the austerity measures they're doing in Greece."

McHale clearly loves to entertain, even if just over the phone to a single interviewer. His description of his show soon veered into comedic territory, with promises of fireworks in his jacket and other theatrics.

"I guess you could say (the show is) a lot of pyrotechnics and a lot like a Bon Jovi show from 1989," he said in a wry tone. The audience, he continued, would be incredibly energized and leave the performance singing "all the songs you know that I've written."

Imagined pyrotechnics aside, McHale said he's not likely to take any subject off the table.

"I don't shy away from topics, I don't shy away from it if people are engaging. I will definitely engage them, but that's not an invitation to heckle me — unless they'd like to," he said. "I definitely don't try to make the audience uncomfortable, but I try not to shy away from everything."

When asked if he felt the current political climate was affecting comedy or the way comedians performed, McHale said he didn't think so.

"I don't think it's changed. I think comedy is always supposed to comment on what's happening in the culture," he said. "There hasn't been some massive shift in comedy because of our current political climate. I think comedians such as myself should be doing the same things we always do — with really great fart jokes thrown in."

'Community' nostalgia

For fans of the show "Community," McHale said there would be references to the show in his performance. He also mentioned it in his book, "Thanks for the Money: How to Use My Life Story to Become the Best Joel McHale You Can Be," which was published in October.

"I loved every wonderful, chaotic minute of making 'Community,'" he said. "I would open those scripts like I was opening a Christmas gift, and I cannot say how much I loved to be on this show."

Choosing a favorite memory from the show proved difficult, but McHale said he immensely enjoyed taking part in the paintball episodes in Seasons 1 and 2.

"All the paintball episodes made me feel like I was in an action movie, … and that was really fun," he said.

He also said he enjoyed watching his fellow actors' portrayals of their own goofy characters.

"I loved watching Danny (Pudi) and Donald (Glover) go at it, that was just wonderful to observe."

From pop culture to politics, from television to family antics, McHale promises to deliver a side-splitting show.

"It'll be the greatest 4 1/2 hours of your life," he said in closing, in that same dry tone. "Everything from this will be downhill."

If you go …

What: Comedian and TV personality Joel McHale.

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4.

Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, 68 Avondale Lane, Beaver Creek.

Cost: Tickets start at $50.

More information: Buy tickets at the Vilar box office, by calling 970-845-8497 or online at http://www.vilarpac.org.