Comedian Joel McHale won’t lack for topics when he hosts the 2015 ESPY Awards — what with a year filled with shameful sports news coverage. Think deflated balls, multiple abuse allegations, concussion lawsuits and other scandals. The first-time ESPY host told Variety that he won’t wallow in the negative. Okay, maybe just a little.
“Sports is like almost any other very public business in that there are very positive things, like the World Cup on Sunday, and there are very negative things. If it’s a huge bummer of a story, my guess is it’s not the greatest opportunity for comedy,” McHale said. “I am not a comedian that just says stuff to be shocking.”
McHale noted that the death of a beloved sportscaster and the sex reassignment of one of the world’s greatest athletes also impacted the world of sports and beyond. “The Soup” star even joked about fellow network talent, Caitlyn Jenner, drawing most of the attention for receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
“I can’t imagine what event is happening during this awards ceremony that would just draw people to it… I think it’s me,” he noted with heavy sarcasm. “I think I’ve answered more questions about Caitlyn than Caitlyn has,” McHale said.
“Call Me Caitlyn” may have been the most recent headline story about an athlete, but the sports section provided a lot more of the scandalous stories. Regardless, plenty of material is of no use for McHale. The host assured that he will be treading lightly on Sunday.
“If we can find a way, then yeah, we’ll do it. But it was definitely a year of scandals, so we’ll probably definitely say something.” He continued, “I’m not even sure what the joke is yet, but everything is up for grabs. But if it’s a bummer, then no.”
Although McHale was tight-lipped about the details of the ceremony, a tribute to late “SportsCenter” anchor Stuart Scott should be a guarantee. McHale shared his recollection of Scott, whose 2014 ESPY acceptance speech for the Jimmy V Perseverance Award inspired many as he shared his battle with cancer.
“It is so sad that he died and he clearly was a good guy and everyone that I know that knew him said the same thing — that he was a pretty special human being. I always loved his catchphrase, ‘as cool as the other side of the pillow.’ He was always really funny,” McHale said.
When asked what his sportscaster catchphrase would be, McHale’s pales in comparison. “That was a good one! He made a good play, she made a good play!” The comedian admitted quickly after giving up, “Yeah, not too creative.”
The 2015 ESPYs air July 15 at 8 p.m. on ABC.