Joel McHale often kids about his kids, once claiming his two sons are the reason he does not own a Lamborghini because the kids are so expensive.
But McHale is serious about children’s health, his own and those of his friends.
“When you have a child who has heart issues, or health issues, at first you cannot believe you are going on this journey, and all you can think of is you would saw your arm off to have him be healthy,” says McHale, the comic actor from “The Soup” on E! and NBC’s “Community” (also the just-cancelled “The Great Indoors”) who headlines Treasure Island’s Mystere Theater at 9 p.m. Friday. “But then you realize you are not alone. There is a massive support system you knew nothing about.”
McHale understands both the travails of being a parent of a young son with a heart ailment — and serving as a supportive friend. His oldest son, Eddie, was born with two large holes in the wall of his heart, and as an infant underwent open-heart surgery.
Today, Eddie is 12.
“He is doing terrifically,” McHale says. “I’ve never seen a kid with so much energy. I think they stuffed him full of hummingbirds during that surgery.” The younger McHale son, Isaac, is 9.
This month, McHale was reminded of Eddie’s ordeal when his friend Jimmy Kimmel talked of his own son’s heart condition during his ABC late-night talk show. Jimmy and Molly Kimmel’s son Billy, born April 21, underwent emergency heart surgery to repair a defect just hours after he was delivered.
Tearfully, Kimmel talked of his son’s plight and made a plea to Congress to make health care accessible to all. “No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life,” Kimmel said during his May 1 telecast. “It just shouldn’t happen. Not here.”
McHale was listening. “Jimmy’s speech was spot-on, dead on, and I think it doesn’t mater if you are a Republican or Democrat, we live in a country that is so rich that we can afford health care for our kids,” he said. “From a very pragmatic, economic standpoint, a healthier nation will save money. It’s like preventative care on your car — if you care for your car, you won’t need a tow truck in the middle of nowhere because you didn’t replace a gasket.”
McHale said he and his wife, Sarah Williams, offered immediate and consistent assistance to the Kimmels.
“We started communicating with him immediately, and he must have been receiving four or five e-mails an hour from us and his other his friends about this,” McHale said. “We suggested a doctor, and he told us he had already made arrangements to see that doctor. We offered him a meal, food, because that’s one less thing you have to worry about. But he told us they’d been offered more food than could feed a small country.”
McHale said he is moved that his family, and the Kimmels, were able to access the most advanced medical care.
“When you consider how far we have come with modern medicine, we are very fortunate in that way,” he said. “When I look at what my family, and others, have been through, it’s almost unbelievable. It still brings a tear to my eye.”
Making waves at Caesars
Not so long ago the future of Cleopatra’s Barge was as murky as the water surrounding the venue’s moated stage. No detailed strategy was in place when Matt Goss departed in September after his 6 1/2-year run at the aquatic party enclave.
But Caesars Entertainment, in partnership with Seth Yudof’s UD Factory, is booking an impressive lineup of national acts at the 47-year-old Barge. CeeLo Green is the latest announced headliner, set for four shows July 21-22 and July 28-29.
Green joins such recognizable acts as Blues Traveler and Plain White T’s to play the room, and he won’t be cheap — GA tickets are $119 (minus fees). Green is to perform with a two-piece band; what the band will play isn’t known, but he is a master showman.
And, if those prices are a bit rich, the Barge remains home to top local acts Zowie Bowie and David Perrico’s Pop Strings. No cover charge for either. Fun all around. Just don’t fall in.