Joel McHale on What He'll Miss About Obama and Why He Hates Valentine's Day

The People's Choice Awards host talks to THR about his upcoming gig: "We like to push (the boundaries) as far as we can, obviously within the limits of the network and who is producing. I like to be absurd, so you will see that."
Cliff Lipson

Joel McHale hates New Year's resolutions and Valentine's Day but he loves the People's Choice Awards. And that latter fact is good for CBS since he'll be hosting the show live from Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles on Jan. 18.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with the actor and star of CBS' The Great Indoors just days ahead of the gig to talk politics, strategy and sports. Oh, and why he hates Feb. 14 so much. 

Hey, congrats on the hosting gig. What's your People's Choice Awards hosting strategy?

I will definitely tell less jokes about sports and specific athletes. That will separate this from the ESPYs. There will be fewer jokes about Senators, Congress people and Chris Christie. That will separate this from the White House Correspondents' Dinner. But seriously, my strategy is that I always work with these two writers, Boyd Vico and Brad Stevens. They help me write everything including love letters. We like to push (the boundaries) as far as we can, obviously within the limits of the network and who is producing. I like to be absurd, so you will see that.

This show happens during what is commonly referred to as "awards season," but it's so much different in that it's voted on by "the people." Is this the right time to allow that process? Do you expect any alleged Russian interference?

It's always the right time for the people to vote. With the People's Choice Awards, you can vote an unlimited number of times; you can just keep voting. That's why with The Great Indoors, I hired a robot to vote 264 million times. CBS is very confused about how this became a worldwide phenomenon.

Donald Trump figured prominently in the most recent awards show in town, the Golden Globes. But the People's Choice Awards are typically far less political. What do you expect to see onstage?

The celebs who have agreed to show up better come or we will be in trouble. When people get up there, they get to say what they want to say. That is one of the great things about being in America; when people are given a mic they speak their minds. That can be great, though it makes a lot of people upset. I think people sometimes take it for granted that we can say things out loud here. It's what is great about being an American. We are not put in jail. People on Twitter just don't like you. 

You're more than just a host for hire though. You're also a writer. What's your process for when you write for a show like this?

Depends on what it is. Sometimes they come over to my house, and if it's at night, they make fun of my sons. We sit in a room with Apple TV and a computer and just go to work. We say the jokes out loud and cut a bunch of stuff and add in other stuff. I try to get them to drink beer and wine until they say, "Enough!" We've done it for so many years now that it comes pretty naturally. I'm super dyslexic, too, so I need to know the jokes very well so we go over them a lot.

You recently published a memoir meets how-to-guide, Thanks for the Money: How to Use My Life Story to Become the Best Joel McHale You Can Be. What was the best section or anecdote or piece of advice that didn't make the book?

A lot of chapters were too long and we kept paring it down to make it a reasonable-length book. We got all the stuff in there that we wanted. But we did leave out the plans to the Death Star. Those got left out.

You hosted the White House Correspondents' Dinner in 2014. Would you host it again in a Trump presidency?

They haven't asked me. I am very curious to see how that is going to go (this year) because if it should be anybody, it should be Alec Baldwin. I would do it — absolutely. The one condition is that Trump can't see my jokes beforehand. 

What will you miss most about President Obama?

He is the funniest president at telling jokes. He set the bar for comedians. Seeing him tell jokes was, like, "Oh wait, he's a great leader and he can tell jokes?" That was amazing. I'll miss that. I will miss Michelle Obama's arms. 

Ratings are great for The Great Indoors. You play a reporter. Now with your pseudo-reporting background, what's the one question you wish you would be asked?

Any great ideas for gift giving around the holidays? What are your plans for your honey for Valentine's day?

So, what are your plans for your honey for Valentine's Day?

Nothing. I hate Valentine's Day. It's invented. It's a completely manufactured holiday. If you go to a restaurant on Valentine's Day, you are an absolute fool. They are taking advantage of you. Restaurants can't wait for you to come in and buy that price-fixed menu.

Did you make any New Year's resolutions?

New Year's resolutions are complete bullshit and if you're still doing that you're lame. Don't worry, you will not keep it. It's the dumbest thing a human being can do on Earth. I stay in shape because as I get older, it's the one thing thing I have left. I stay active, I love sports. It's all to keep my face from swelling and to not looking like a character from Lord of the Rings.

Speaking of sports, L.A. will soon have its second pro football team. How do you feel about that? 

I want to finally get the Raiders down here, too. I'd like to get 10 teams total — that would be good. Crowd them all into the stadium, and rotate them out like a track meet. It's weird. I don't like it. It's always a tragedy for the city that loses them. It says something to keep teams where they are, but it shows that capitalism and money are really what's at work here. That's sad to me. I'm from Seattle and we lost the Supersonics. The people of Oklahoma were happy and I don't blame them, but I blame a system that allows for that. I feel terrible for people of San Diego.