Joel McHale was once fired up about the idea of swapping lines from “Fletch” and “Vacation” with Chevy Chase.
Instead, he swapped punches. This, during taping of the NBC comedy series, “Community,” which ran from 2009-2015 on NBC.
“Chevy liked to fight me,” McHale said during his debut performance at Treasure Island’s Mystere Theatre on Friday night. “Every day he’d come on the set and start throwing punches. I’d say ‘You’re an old man, I don’t want to fight you.’ But he kept coming at me, squaring off, and it got very weird.”
McHale said he had learned one self-defense move from a cop friend of his: To grab the assailant’s hand and bend it forward, hard, until it is pressed to his wrist.
McHale finally put Chase on the ground with this move.
“This move is very painful, and it really works,” McHale said. “I did this to Chevy, he hits the deck, and the director walks in. ‘He’s an old man! You hurt him!’ And Chevy says, ‘You hurt my wrist! I can’t work for two weeks!’ “
In one episode, Chase’s dismissive millionaire character, Pierce, taught McHale’s failing-attorney character, Jeff, to box.
“I thought, ‘Oh, this is going to go great,’ ” McHale said. Chase pulled on a pair of boxing pads, and McHale fired a few punches that fell just short of their mark.
“He kept saying, ‘You’re not really hitting me! You need to really hit me!’ ” McHale said. “I said, ‘I’m pretending to hit you. This is all pretend! You’re playing a pretend person named Pierce, I’m playing a pretend person named Jeff, we’re in a pretend community college — look around, there are no ceilings in this classroom!’ “
McHale finally relented, shooting a left jab into Chase’s padded hand.
“So I dislocate his shoulder,” McHale said, as the room burst in laughter. “He’s down, and the director walks in. ‘You just hit an old man!’ And Chevy’s going, ‘You dislocated my shoulder! I can’t work for two weeks!’ “
McHale later related a story from his Super Bowl party this year. He had invited several comedy writers and comics to his home in L.A. — “I know a lot of very funny people, believe me.” — and his kids, 12-year-old Eddie and 9-year-old Isaac, also watched the game.
“I have a friend who is a professional writer, who has made a lot of money in comedy writing and is very successful,” McHale said. “We’re watching the halftime show with Lady Gaga, and he says to Isaac, ‘I’ll bet you have a lot of Lady Gaga posters in your room.’ And Isaac, without pause, says, ‘I guarantee you, my room is bigger than yours.’ “
McHale then bowed to his unseen son.
McHale also recalled an interview with a newspaper reporter, during which the two drove around L.A. to some of McHale’s favorite haunts.
“This is a story where we just drive around, and I show him, ‘This is where I drink coffee, this is where I get my enemas,’ like that,” McHale said. “He’s asking me these questions, like, ‘Where to you get the clips you use on your show?’ I’m saying, ‘We record the, and then they wind up on TV,’ and then he says, ‘How is Comedy Central treating you?’
“I say, ‘Well, great. I watch it for a while before I go to bed.’ Then it occurred to me, this guy doesn’t know who I am.”
McHale finally said, “What’s my name?”
The answer: “Daniel Tosh.”
“Damn!” McHale said.
McHale ended the night by thanking the crowd for showing up in a theater that “usually shows Ukrainian acrobats,” and for watching him host the E! show “The Soup,” which was canceled in 2015. He seemed to tip his hand about an upcoming concept, asking, “Who out there would watch me do a new version of ‘The Soup?’ “
The crowd cheered. McHale could record that show in his home, where he already has an able guest star.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.