Joel McHale Got the Ultimate Revenge By Playing Chevy Chase
Chevy Chase stopped hurting Joel McHale’s feelings back in 2009. At least that’s what McHale told PEOPLE after Chase bashed Community for about the 100th time during an appearance on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast. Community just was “not funny enough” for him, Chase said, noting "I just didn't want to be surrounded by that table every day with those people.” McHale (one of “those people”) had heard that one — and worse — before. So why get hot and bothered by telling Chevy Chase off when there was a much better way to get back at him?
Okay, okay, McHale has never copped to actually delivering a revenge blow when he agreed to play the SNL star in 2018’s A Futile and Stupid Gesture, the story of National Lampoon legend Doug Kenney. But in his autobiography, Thanks for the Money, McHale acknowledged that the two funny guys had built-in animosity from the moment they were cast on the same sitcom. “On Community, I was the tall, sarcastic, and — okay, I’ll say it — stunningly good-looking guy. Let’s face it: I had been cast in the classic ‘Chevy Chase’ role,” McHale said. “This was probably very difficult for Chevy to come to grips with.”
If Chevy had a hard time accepting McHale in the Chevy Chase role, how much did it poke his ribs when McHale was cast as the actual Chevy Chase?
“I called him to let him know I was doing it,” McHale told Stephen Colbert, which I’d guess was partly out of courtesy and partly out of a desire to hear Chase’s pained reaction to the news. It’s hard to imagine Chase giving three cheers, given that McHale was the guy who “accidentally” dislocated Chevy’s shoulder.
Even though Chase supposedly was Kenney’s best pal, McHale didn’t get a lot of screen time in Stupid and Futile, another fact that had to chafe Chase’s thighs. Then there was McHale’s preparation for the part. “I glued on a lot of chest hair,” he told Colbert. From the looks of his appearance in the film, McHale did just that, pasting that chest hair directly onto his head.
“It was the young Chevy, and I so deep-dived into really early Chevy tapes that I stopped thinking about how I had worked with him for four years,” McHale told IndieWire, a backhanded way of saying, “There’s no way I could have even attempted this if I’d considered what an a-hole this guy was to work with.”
In a review on RogerEbert.com, McHale is praised for not turning the performance into a parody, but Chase comes off as a villain nonetheless: “It’s telling that Chase is portrayed here is something of an enabler for his best buddy when it comes to drugs.”
How did Chevy feel about the final portrayal? It’s hard to say if he even watched A Stupid and Futile Gesture, which isn’t to say that McHale didn’t do his darndest to make sure Chase saw the impersonation. “I called him right before the movie came out and I said, ‘Hey, the movie is done and it's pretty good. I'll send you a link,’” McHale told Colbert.
“And (Chevy) goes, ‘What’s a link?’”