Joel, (Born November 20, 1971) and his brothers were born in Rome, Italy, where their father worked for an American university. His mother, Laurie, is from Vancouver, British Columbia, and his father, Jack, is from Chicago. McHale grew up in the Seattle area and graduated from Mercer Island High School in 1991. He also participated at Youth Theatre Northwest.
He received a bachelor's degree in History from the University of Washington in 1995. While at the University of Washington, McHale briefly belonged to the Theta Chi Fraternity. He was recruited to be on the rowing team but later walked onto the Washington Huskies football, in the position of tight end for two years. McHale received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Professional Actors Training Program at the University of Washington.
McHale was part of the Almost Live! cast, a local sketch-comedy TV show produced by Seattle's KING-TV (Channel 5). From 1993 until 1997, McHale was a member of the improv comedy group at Unexpected Productions, participating in Theatersports! at the Market Theater located in Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle.
After earning his master's degree in acting, McHale moved to Los Angeles and landed small roles in Oliver Beene, CSI: Miami, and Will & Grace. He played a TV reporter in the biopic Lords of Dogtown. He guest-starred as a cast member on the NBC improv comedy show Thank God You're Here during the pilot episode and had a guest role on an episode of Pushing Daisies. McHale also appeared in Spider-Man 2 in a small role as Mr. Jacks, a bank manager.
In 2004, McHale began hosting The Soup, a satirical weekly television show on the "E!" television network. Throughout the show, he takes the audience through the oddities and ridiculous happenings of the week in television. He frequently appears as a co-host on Loveline. He has also had a long association with Circle X Theatre, where he has done several plays. McHale was a weekly guest on The Adam Carolla Show and Mickey and Amelia, and occasional guest on the Opie and Anthony Show. He has been a judge on Iron Chef America. He was involved in the American version of the British TV show The IT Crowd. McHale made a guest appearance on the finale of Last Comic Standing sixth season when he recapped the show's events in his typical format of jokes made popular on The Soup. He usually appeared in Countdown with Keith Olbermann in a humor sequence closing the show.
He recently starred in Community which premiered in winter 2009. The show was canceled by NBC in summer 2014, but renewed in May 2015 in "Yahoo Screen". He hosted The Soup until its cancelation in 2015. He also appeared in the movie Ted.