Comedian, television star and Mercer Island native Joel McHale returned to his Island hometown Saturday to promote his recently published memoir/self help book, titled “Thanks for the Money: How to Use My Life Story to Become the Best Joel McHale You Can Be.”
McHale entertained a large crowd at Island Books, which included many of his family members and former classmates, teachers and even next door neighbors, with anecdotes about the contradictions of Hollywood.
“As soon as you can afford the things you want to buy, they start giving them to you,” he said.
The Mercer Island High School and University of Washington graduate used to work at the Island Books espresso stand. On Saturday, he was signing his own book in the back of the store, as a line of fans stretched to the door.
He’s come a long way since starring in productions of Youth Theatre Northwest.
His first acting job was on the local sketch comedy show “Almost Live!” before he earned his master’s degree in acting and moved to Los Angeles. He now stars on the CBS sitcom “The Great Indoors.”
He still follows Island news, particularly Youth Theatre’s search for a new home on the Island, and said that friends have sent him links to the Mercer Island Distorter.
McHale is known for his sarcastic and satirical humor. According to his website, his new book “reveals his insider secrets and teaches YOU how to become a celebrity — so that, upon completion of the book, you too can achieve, maintain, and exploit your own wealth and fame.”
“I always thought celebrity memoirs were pretty awful … so I thought I’d make fun of those books,” McHale said.
McHale took many questions from the audience, including an inquiry about whether he and other Seattle comedians had parties for Seahawks games and a request for advice on car shopping.
McHale talked about the Christmas presents he received from his thrifty grandmother (bottles of Coke or macaroni and cheese wrapped in gift paper) and his favorite teachers at St. Monica’s.
One of his most high profile appearances was as the host of the 2014 White House Correspondents’ dinner, which spawned a joke feud with Robert DeNiro.
As he describes it in the book, celebrity life is wonderful. But acting isn’t the most stable gig.
McHale starred in the cult hit show “Community,” which was cancelled by NBC after five seasons, and hosted “The Soup” — where he made fun of pop culture, celebrities and reality stars, including E!’s own Kardashian family — was cancelled in 2015.
McHale said he wouldn’t rule out doing something more “artsy” than TV comedies, and quipped that he would be interested in “Hamilton 2.”
But he did sincerely credit the Seattle theater scene, along with his family, for his success in the performing arts.
“I had nice parents who didn’t force me to play violin and become a lawyer,” he said.