6/20: Joel McHale at Lakewood Civic Auditorium

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Five years ago, actor and comedian Joel McHale was doing TV commercials when he auditioned for yet another version of Talk Soup, E!’s chat- and reality-show wrap-up program. The show’s title was shortened to The Soup, its concept was slightly reworked and McHale’s career took off — slowly. “Because the show is the cheapest show in television, it’s worked out,” says McHale, the 18-year-old program’s longest-running host. “I got lucky, because it wasn’t an instant hit. It was so low on the radar, we were able to screw it up for the first couple of years. Then people started watching it.” McHale began his stint with the show in the summer of 2004. “It was like doing a high-school production,” he recalls. “It has slowly but surely gained in popularity. That’s the only way it would have worked. If it was a big ad blitz like The Kardashians, we would have been arrested by the comedy police.” McHale’s stand-up sets include some familiar riffing on celebrities and “wacky family stuff,” he says. “In the last two years, I’ve done a ton of stand-up, but before that, none. There’s no safety net. It’s just you alone with the mic. You go out there and you better be good or they will kill you. It’s a crazy and wonderful format to do comedy in.” McHale performs at 7:30 and 10 p.m. on Saturday at Lakewood Civic Auditorium (14100 Franklin Blvd., Lakewood, 877.598.8703). Tickets: $32.50-$37.50. — Jeff Niesel

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