Joel McHale/photo by John Salangsang/AP
Remember the school bully who was mean to classmates, but that you secretly wanted to make out with? Perhaps you were the person. Or maybe you're Joel McHale.
The actor/comedian has made a nice career out of playing the cool jerk on "The Soup," "Community" and "The Great Indoors." Those expecting a warmer glow from his Friday performance at Mystic Lake Casino were in for a rude awakening.
McHale, dressed in jeans and an upscale sweatshirt, spent the first third of his freehwheeling act insulting past stops from his tour including Oklahoma, where weathermen get overly excited about tornadoes, and Phoenix, "another horrible place, which only exists because of air conditioning."
He basked in recalling how he antagonized a Nashville audience by calling them idiots who don't realize that country music sucks and how he was booed in Montreal for referencing Toronto.
McHale didn't let the Twin Cities off the hook. He had clearly done his homework, dissecting the woes of our professional sports team and describing St. Paul as the "runt brother you brought to the party."
Based on his name recognition, McHale could have gotten away with a pat routine and Chevy Chase anecdotes (he limited himself to one), but he was more than willing to riff, even if that meant spending several minutes berating the spotlight operator for not keeping up with him as he worked the stage with a wireless mike.
This kind of "insult" humor only works if you're hilarious (that would be a stretch on this particular night) or willing to turn the poison arrow towards yourself, something McHale did by regularly referring to himself by a name that's short for Richard.
For some audience members, that may not have been enough. A more than usual number of audience members left the show early and part of me wanted to search out the spotlight guy at the end to give him a hug.