While watching his Seahawks lose to the Patriots in the 2015 Super Bowl definitely stung, that hasn't stopped Joel McHale from falling in love with New England. Between stand-up tours and filming in Boston for "Ted," the actor and comedian has spent a lot of time in the region over the years, and will be back in the area this weekend for shows at Medford's Chevalier Theatre on June 22 and Foxwoods on June 23. Ahead of his return to New England, we chatted with the former "Soup" and "Community" star about his thoughts on the Rob Gronkowski trade rumors, getting in on the "Fortnite" craze and what to expect when his new Netflix series "The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale" returns this summer.
Where do you like to grab a bite when you're in Boston?
I stay near Back Bay, and there’s two seafood places that are right there. There's also, I think it's called Skinny Puppy Coffee? I know there’s a puppy in it. Wired Puppy! That’s where I go. I go to Wired Puppy in Back Bay, and [Atlantic Fish Co.].
I know you're a big Seahawks fans, and there's talk that Rob Gronkowski might be on the trading block. Would you like to see him join Seattle?
Sure, we’ll take Gronk. Why would they trade him?
There are a lot of rumors that the Patriots might trade him.
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Damn. You know, when you ditch someone like him who’s a leader and who’s also insanely talented, if he’s at full strength, he’s terrifying to deal with. I think they should definitely think about whether they really want to do this. Look, I’ll take him. Yes, I would love it. Gronk, please come to Seattle. It’s very similar weather at certain times of the year.
Switching gears to esports, I heard you're a big 'Fortnite' fan and competed at E3 this year. How did you get involved with this phenomenon?
I was in this "Fortnite" program at E3. It was in a soccer stadium in the new Los Angeles Football Club stadium, which is a beautiful stadium. I was one of 100 of players, and two of the best players in the world, which are Ninja and Myth, were playing, so I thought, "I should have a real shot at winning this." The first round, I finished 35th, which I’ll take any day of the week because I’m an old man and I’m not very good at it, but I just hid. I just kept hiding and using a very cowardly offense. I’d just sneak up behind people while they were fighting other people.
"Fortnite" is the most popular game on the planet. They figured out something that no publisher had figured out, which is they figured out the perfect way to have a "Hunger Games," battle royale game. Even though there’s other multiplayer games that have that, what they figured out was the building aspect, the kind of "Minecraft" aspect of it. The skill level these kids are operating at is terrifying. I don’t know if my brain ever moves that fast, and it truly is exciting to watch these kids play. There were like 6,000 people there. You would have thought you were at a Super Bowl, people just yelling and screaming and jumping up and down, and these kids are celebrities. It’s crazy. Twitch has really made a lot of these kids famous.
Are there any other games you’re into?
I play "Battlefield" and I play "Call of Duty." I play with old cast members from the show I was on called "The Great Indoors." I play with the head writer of the new show, "The Joe McHale Show." We all play together, and there’s a couple people that have joined us, so I like that. People talk about, "Oh, you just sit there on your little video game lost in your own world." It’s actually very social. You’re communicating the whole time. I really like it. The only problem is that I really can’t spare two hours an evening doing it. It’s like a holiday when I get to play.
Speaking of your new show, why did Netflix feel like the right home for 'The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale'?
We were thrilled that Netflix wanted to buy it, because it’s Netflix. They’re the new kid, they’re the Gronk, the guy that sits on the field and is bigger and faster than everybody. Even though they’re the biggest ocean, and there’s a lot of big fish in there, if we could swim in that ocean, then the show could possibly stay on for more than a season. I was thrilled that they wanted to do it, because if you can succeed on Netflix, that means you’re seen around the world instantly. The reach they have is very impressive. Believe me, I was thrilled that they wanted to do the show. So it’s been really fun. I don’t swear the entire time or anything, but now I can say whatever I want. I don’t have a network, like, E! was very good to me before, then they said stuff like, "Please don’t make fun of the Kardashians." That was when I kind of saw the writing on the wall that that was going to be the end of it. Netflix, they hardly give any notes other than just like, "Be funny." I’m like, "Got it, I’ll try. I can’t guarantee it."
Do you have any fun guests lined up for when the show returns July 15?
I know Jack Black is coming on, so that’s good. And then you’re going to see Lou Diamond Phillips in a whole new light. Who else is gonna come on? We’re shooting in two weeks, and we’re shooting all six at once, so we’re gathering everyone together. I know Gillian Jacobs is going to come on, of "Community" fame, so there’s a good tease.