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SECRET SOUP

Host of popular cable show to present free stand-up comedy show on Aug. 22 at Marlintini's Lounge

Posted: Thursday, August 21, 2008

Comedian Joel McHale, the host of "The Soup" on E! Entertainment Television, acknowledges that most of the work produced in Hollywood these days is subpar.

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"Our motto is that 90 percent of all art sucks," he said. "Ninety percent of all art is bad and I think 10 percent has never been better."

That 90 percent provides plenty of banter for the self-deprecating humorist of the weekly cable show that has reached cult-like status for its often irreverent and poignant depiction of Hollywood and celebrity culture.

"We make fun of 'Access Hollywood' and 'Entertainment Tonight' and 'The Insider' or 'Access Hollywood.' We want it to be more like a long Conan O'Brien monolog."

McHale will perform a free comedy show beginning at 9 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 22, at Marlintini's Lounge as part of the Myspace Secret Stand Up series presented by the popular social networking Web site.

"Doors open at 4 p.m. and it's first-come, first-served, and if people want a guarantee that they have a seat ... they need to get here as early as possible, I'd say," Marlintini's owner Ethan Billings said. "I'm expecting a packed house, just on a free show and this guy's a TV star and up-and-coming comedian. He's a pretty hot property."

Billings said he got a call out of the blue saying Myspace.com wanted to host a secret comedy show in Juneau. McHale's name was just released as the headliner of the show earlier this week.

"For sure this is easily the biggest comedy name we've brought to town - ever," he said.

McHale said he is really excited about making his debut trip to Alaska's capital city this week.

"My grandfather was born (in Juneau) and my great-grandfather came from Finland and became a fisherman there back in the '20s and he died of pneumonia up there so his grave is up there," he said. "I thought what a great opportunity to swing by the city where a part of my family started in."

Plus, instead of profiting from his appearance on Saturday, McHale said Myspace donates the performance fee to charity.

"I killed two birds with one stone," he said. "I get to get some money to a charity and see some of the old family stomping grounds."

McHale said his stand-up routine does somewhat mirror the humor of "The Soup."

"I talk a lot about pop culture. I talk a lot about reality TV. I talk about people that don't like me, such as Tyra Banks," he said. "So I do hit on a lot of things that have to do with what I have done on 'The Soup.' So in that way it's definitely not a traditional stand-up routine. You should definitely be familiar with who Britney Spears is and who Lindsay Lohan is, because I'm going to make fun of them."

McHale said he also plans to include some stories and jokes about his Juneau-born grandfather into the act as well.

"It's more of a behind-the-scenes look at 'The Soup' and my dysfunctional life," he said.

The popularity of "The Soup" has increased over the last year due to the weekly show's witty criticism of daytime television and reality TV. McHale introduces some of the most memorable clips shown on television during the week and adds satirical comments and searing criticism of the "dumbing down of American entertainment."

"We really pride ourselves on finding those clips that most people haven't seen or finding a different angle on the clips."

And the jokes will keep rolling because McHale said there is no end in sight to America's obsession with reality TV.

"Reality TV will never go away because it is the cheapest type of television to make. If you tomorrow go get a vacuum and a camera and go 'I'm now doing a reality show called 'The Vacuumer,' you have a show."

And it doesn't seem that the absurdities of celebrity culture will slow down any time soon. McHale said he has covered too many celebrity stories over the last several years to choose the funniest or most absurd. However, his favorite celebrity story recently covered on "The Soup" was how Matthew McConaughey reportedly decided to bury his newborn son's placenta.

"And (McConaughey's) got a brother named Rooster and Rooster's son's name is Miller Lyte," McHale said. "You just can't make anything up like that. It's incredible. That story came along and I thought that was very funny."

McHale says he knows he irritates certain celebrities but said there haven't really been any repercussions from the jokes.

"I haven't run into anyone that has accosted me and said 'how dare you say that.' Not yet," he said. "I'm sure it's to come. I saw (David) Hasselhoff at an NBC party and avoided him knowing how much he disliked me."

The success of "The Soup" has also allowed McHale to parlay his talents into more acting roles. He has made appearances on the big screen in "Spiderman 2" and "Lords of Dogtown," as well as on the television shows "CSI: Miami" and "Robot Chicken." He also stars in the upcoming Steven Soderbergh movie "The Informant" with Matt Damon and will voice the lead role in the animation movie "Open Season 2."

McHale said he never would have imagined growing up that he'd have a job that requires him to watch so many hours of television each week.

"I do enjoy telling my mom 'every time you told me to go outside and stop watching TV you were hurting my career.' Thanks a lot mom," he quipped.

• Contact reporter Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.



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