Wednesday, January 7, 2009

From "Soup" to late night?

If there's one TV program Talk Show News loves even more than "The Daily Show," it's "The Soup," E!'s weekly compendium of wacky clips, primarily taken from reality and talk shows. "The Soup" sprang from "Talk Soup," which served as a launching pad for hosts Greg Kinnear and Hal Sparks. (Personally, TSN always favored John "Skunk Boy" Henson, whose, shall we say, uneven career trajectory since leaving the show for a deal with ABC ultimately led to his hosting the game show "Wipeout.")

"The Soup" host Joel McHale's star has been on the rise for the past year or so. TSN caught his stand-up routine in early December -- his comedy tour was cheekily titled "Thank You For the Pool," because he was going to use the proceeds to renovate his new L.A. home -- and while he was fairly unpolished compared to comics who made their way up through the comedy circuit, he obviously has charm to spare. Lately, McHale has been turning up on "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" and has appeared a guest on several late night talkers. It was inevitable that someone would conclude, "Hey, maybe this guy should be hosting a talk show!"

Ben Grossman of Broadcasting and Cable interviewed McHale on that very topic. Grossman reported that McHale's goal is to become an actor, a la Kinnear and Sparks; indeed, he has a role in the forthcoming Steven Soderbergh movie "The Informant." ("The Soup" moved to Illinois briefly while McHale was filming there.) However, McHale was willing to consider the idea of hosting a talk show. “If a show was available, yeah, I'd like to throw my hat in,” McHale says. “But it's not even worth thinking about because there are so few jobs and there's no real audition process.”

He recognizes that it's a difficult job. “It requires so many things: You have to be funny and you have to interview well, but you can't just be those things,” he says. “There is still some X-factor, and I don't know if I have that. I just don't know. Like when Letterman went down with his heart surgery, some of the funniest people in the world hosted the show and it was really bad.”

Sadly, it seems that McHale's days on "The Soup" are probably numbered, as he tries to move into something bigger and better than E!, where his show often slotted in before and after reality junk like "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and "The Girls Next Door." Whether he becomes an actor or a talk show host, though, the charismatic and hilarious McHale seems to have the right stuff to succeed.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Oh man, how i wished Joel would get Late Night instead of Fallon. He seems just about perfect for hosting a late night talk show, from what i've seen of him.