December 3, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 45°F

Life & Culture

Joel McHale wraps up Ithaca Today with comedy act

After a long weekend of tours and information sessions across campus, current students, prospective students, and visitors gathered in the Athletics and Events Center for some comic relief from Joel McHale.

McHale, comedian and host of “The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale,” performed at Ithaca College on April 15. McHale’s performance drew a crowd of several hundred people. The show was the final event of Ithaca Today, a weekend full of events for accepted prospective students on campus.

McHale started his hourlong set by talking about his interest in the nickname “Bombers.”

“I think the name is cool, but it could go either way,” McHale said. “Because if you come back from a game and you sucked at it, someone would ask you ‘Hey, how’d you do?’ ‘Oh, I bombed it.’”

Throughout his set, the theme of his jokes focused on what he called the “worst cities in America.” He mentioned cities that he had previously performed at and explained why he did not like them by describing the experiences he had there. The first city he said was the “worst city in America” was Denver. In addition to mentioning his complaints about the Denver International Airport, he also said that during his show at a private mountain in Denver, he had six security guards surrounding the stage.

“I’ve never had more security in my life,” McHale said. “But then I realized that the security guards were not there to protect me. They were there to protect them from me because they didn’t know who I was.”

McHale wrapped up his performance by talking about his kids, 13-year-old Edward McHale and 10-year-old Isaac McHale, and how they have started to take on his comedic likeness, detailing different “sticky situations” that both of his children were involved in.

Before McHale appeared, the event began with a 20-minute stand-up set by comedian and writer J.F. Harris. During his performance, Harris talked about his experiences growing up in Staten Island, New York, and how his medical problems, like his dyslexia and mild cerebral palsy, shaped him as the person he is today.

A series of videos made by students at the college were shown to hype-up the crowd before the comedians performed. These clips, produced by junior Eleni Sabracos, showed students bobbing for soup cans, as well as a mock-show of “The Soup.” Sabracos is a producer of the ICTV show “After Hours” and the producer of the videos shown before the show. She said she was happy to be able to use the skills she has learned there to create work that is recognized by a large audience.

“The coolest part of the whole experience, though, was that the opening act for Joel McHale really liked the videos, and I ended up being able to have a great conversation with him about comedy and performing after the show,” Sabracos said.

Freshman Clara Montague said she thought the event was hilarious and entertaining. She said her favorite part of the performance was McHale’s interaction with the sign language interpreter for the show. McHale said random and inappropriate statements to see if the interpreter would sign it.

“I went to Trevor Noah’s last year, and I really liked that,” Montague said. “I’m also glad I went because I heard that all of the seats weren’t sold, but the venue looked full to me.”

Sophomore Anna D’Arcy said she was surprised at how much she liked McHale’s performance.

“I’ve never actually heard of Joel McHale before the event,” D’Arcy said. “But after seeing his set, I will definitely be looking out for more of his stuff in the future.”

Senior Rachel Yohe, who is part of the college’s social media team, said she thought that the event was a great experience. As well as promoting the event on the college’s website and social media accounts through stories and ticket giveaways, she was able to use her social media skills the day of the event.

“I was able to do a bunch of backstage stuff,” Yohe said. “We got to meet Joel McHale beforehand and do the Instagram stories.”

Hannah Fitzpatrick can be reached at or via Twitter: @HannahFitzpatr7