Joel McHale of Community and The Soup got mixed reviews from critics and fans for his speech at last night’s (May 3) 2014 White House Correspondents' Dinner.
Deadline felt like Joel "bombed," writing, "If last year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner with headliner Conan O’Brien was white bread bland, tonight’s event was just painful. In way way over his head, Joel McHale stumbled and sputtered through a routine that got more moans and groans from the packed Washington Hilton ballroom than laughs."
They said his "failed one-liners" about Robert De Niro, Jessica Simpson, George Clooney, and the Kardashians — "and a slew of other poorly conceived and badly executed jokes" — were met with "weak applause" from the 2,600 guests.
People was equally brutal, writing, "McHale, 42, gave probably the worst performance I've seen at the press corps dinner, now known with a rather affected adorableness as the 'nerd prom.' This felt more like the finale of Carrie. Ostensibly a roast of the President and, to varying degrees, Washington journalists and politicians, it was closer to scorched earth. McHale is actually very funny, but his humor is marked by satirical, judgmental scorn – a perfectly legitimate scorn, in our or any age, but one that didn't play well at Sunday's event in the nation's capital."
People said, "He didn't miss, but he did aim low," ultimately summing it up with this: "it was a mess, and I wish it weren't."
However, several commenters on both sites disagreed with the critics.
• I thought he was pretty darn funny.
• Yea, geeze "people tv critic" lay off. Talk about being judgmental. You're quips have to be 10 times worse than his jokes.
• I thought Joel was soooooo goood! I loved that he had the guts to take real jabs at the politicians and point out their mistakes/inconsistencies. His jokes were very well written and intelligent. He clearly did his research. I think he was right up there with Conan O'Brien, Steven Colbert, and Jimmy Kimmel. He made me laugh from beginning to end. I guess it's true what people say, comedy is the new sexy and Joel McHale is s-e-x-y (not to mention good looking). You never notice this side of him on Community or the Soup. Kudos to Joel, job well done!
• Bombed?! People were hysterically laughing!!! Including me! Joel scured Washington! Go Joel!!!
• I was there. Blue? Not at all. Funny and well received? Very much so.
However, other commenters did agree with the critics:
• I'm huge Joel McHale fan and even I was cringing. It wasn't even his jokes that were that bad - it was his timing and his delivery. He seemed really uncomfortable and almost nervous. If he'd had a more relaxed delivery, some of those jokes may have landed a bit better. Although, in his defense, it was a tough crowd - some of the funny jokes (i.e. the Kardashians) were met with crickets. Overall, I finally had to stop watching after about 20 minutes.
• I had high hopes for Mr. McHale. I truly thought he’d be great. I enjoy The Soup and he’s been a good guest on Howard Stern’s SIRIUS show (I’ve never seen an episode of Community). I actually watched his entire performance and was left embarrassed. For him–and myself was staying through the sad and inappropriate end.
• Sorry, he was awful. I didn't even think his bit on Christie was all that funny--and I despise my governor. Torture.
Watch the speech below, then weigh in. What do you think?