Joel McHale on Ostriches Too Fast, Cougars That Lick End-shutdown


Joel McHale stars alongside real animals playing from seattle Frank Shaw in the Fox comedy “Animal Control.” And he couldn’t be happier.

McHale, 51, could have pursued a sarcastic career as Jeff Winger on NBC “community” (2009-15) and as the scathing host of E! “Soup” (2004-15). But the devoted owner of three dogs and a rabbit has an animal-loving heart. That suits the established work community at Seattle’s animal control division that cares for all critters, big and small.

“I’m incredibly sarcastic most of the time and quite cynical,” says McHale. “But my heart melts when I’m around animals. My wife constantly tells me that this is the perfect job for me.”

Here’s how McHale deals with “Animal Control” critters, like the Burmese python in Thursday’s episode (9 EST/PST) and the makeup-licking puma from the show’s Super Bowl promos.

McHale’s French bulldog eats his bunny brother’s celery

McHale’s love of creatures begins at home. He is the driving force behind his family’s adoption of three dogs, including a pug named Cowboy, a Coton de Tulear (Harry) and a French bulldog (Beanbag). Sarah Williams, his wife of 25 years, has curbed his desire to adopt more pets.

“I almost got another dog and she was like, ‘You want to stay married to me, right?’” McHale says. adding that his dogs are a happy family, and they even get along with the rabbit (Joey Jr.).

“The French bulldog and the rabbit grew up together, so Beanbag sees the rabbit as a brother. My bulldog actually eats lettuce and broccoli,” says McHale. “He doesn’t know any better. He just wants to eat with his brother.”

Super Bowl cougar kept trying to ‘lick the makeup off my face’

McHale caused a sensation at the Super Bowl with the “Animal Control” commercials, especially the spot where he was holding a cougar. “Everything the internet has told you is true. The hot cougars in your area want to meet you,” he joked.

The actor clarifies that the puma was 3 months old (“we couldn’t do this with an adult”) and was from a Vancouver wild animal rescue farm. The cat was only interested in consuming his makeup.

“She was just a great big kitten, only this kitten was 70 pounds. But she purred so loud it was like a plane was going overhead,” says McHale.

The only problem: “He was so sweet I kept trying to lick my makeup off my face.”

McHale took the opportunity to have Gretchen the tarantula crawl across his face for another memorable spot. She stopped in his eye.

“Gretchen became one of my favorites,” says McHale. “She just sat there in my eye, so I kept throwing lines.”

McHale didn’t sweat the Burmese python around his neck

In Thursday’s episode, the “Animal Control” team rescues a man from a Burmese python, and the snake wraps itself around Frank’s neck. All acting. The well-fed python was cold.

“Once you feed this snake, it’s fine for about a week and a half. So it coiled itself around my neck and was happy to hang out,” says McHale. “That snake has been on set many times and is more professional than many actors I’ve worked with.”

Unsurprisingly, McHale powered his own python. “I told my wife I wanted a snake after that. You can imagine the answer,” he says.

Ostriches Were Too Fast For ‘Animal Control’ Chase Scene, Not Furious

In the February 16 pilot episode, Frank’s clueless colleague Fred (Michael Rowland) is chased by a herd of ostriches. McHale says the adolescent ostriches, from a farm near the Vancouver set, weren’t really angry. They performed “happy dances.”

“They’re like Golden Retrievers at that age,” says McHale. “They would just jump around and spin around. And they just kept doing it.”

They were also incredibly fast, too fast for the planned chase scene with Rowland.

“They did the chase scene because they love to run,” says McHale. “The problem was, the ostriches kept running for (Rowland), who they were supposed to be chasing. Because ostriches can run 45 miles an hour. We tried like five times.”

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