Joel McHale is a man of many talents: stand-up comedian, actor, writer, producer and killer bicep toter. Being politically correct, however, is not one of them.
Alec Durkheimer ’13, President of the Cornell Comedy Club, thoroughly enjoyed the show. “I thought it was funny. I thought it was very pop culture-oriented, which was interesting and had wide appeal. I thought he brought a lot of what was hilarious about The Soup to the set, which was funny for me.”
While he did have some people rolling, there was oftentimes more groaning than laughing at his offensive material. At least he was sure to not leave anyone out, making fun of Ithaca College, Muslims, people from Wisconsin, Asians, Republicans, overweight people, women, people with colored contacts, transgendered people, hermaphrodites, Indians, math-lovers and his grandmother.
David Kingsley, the Technical Director at Bailey Hall, also noticed the uneasiness of the audience. "I’ve been doing sound for events for a long time, and I take notice of what kind of response performers get. From my perspective, Joel McHale didn’t get belly laughs like Louis C.K., to contrast, because people were on edge — afraid on some level. When comedy is mean, anyone is a target. An audience, especially a highly diverse audience, senses this. There is a wariness that may be mostly unconscious, but is obvious to an audience-listener,” Kingsley said.
Durkheimer didn’t think McHale could have avoided this reaction. “I think it’s O.K. for some people to be offended and some not. That’s what productive discourse is about,” Durkheimer said.
Some thought that people should have come to the show knowing what to expect. “When you watch Family Guy or go to an Eminem concert, you can’t get offended by material. You aren’t forced to go. That’s Joel McHale and that’s what he does,” said Parsa Salehi ’13.
There was some material that could have done better. For instance, he had a lot about his three-year-old son that had potential. However, he might have taken it too far. Kingsley agreed that McHale missed the mark. “Come on — jokes about hitting your three-year-old and feeling all-powerful about it don’t do much to articulate the kind of world we are creating. I think Cornell can do better."
As someone who has been watching The Soup since an inappropriately young age, I personally loved the show. I can see how others may have been offended by his routine, and I do agree that he did cross the line at times, but that is his style and it is what millions have come to love him for. His job is to make fun of people and culture, he delivered.