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Interview: Kevin McHale

Friday 18 July 2014
Words Lizzie

Everybody knows Kevin Mchale as ‘Artie’ from Glee, that’s obvious. Now Kevin embarks in a completely different role as host on E4’s brand new panel show, Virtually Famous. With Seann Walsh and Chris Stark as team captains, the show explores the phenomenon which is the Internet by taking us through a voyage of weird, wonderful and frankly sometimes worrying videos which people with no shame, extraordinary talents and innovative ideas have posted for our entertainment. I went to the live recording of one of the shows and it was hilarious. Cameras were everywhere so I really hope they didn’t capture the occasional snort.

Kevin! Tell me about this new role as host of Virtually Famous and how it came about

I was working on a show in the states and the whole team was British, so one of the girls I had met, who works for Channel 4 pitched me for the show!

They called me and asked me if I wanted to do a panel show, and I was hesitant at first because I didn’t know what that was! And don’t really consider myself a host…but when I met up with all of them, they convinced me! They were so open to being collaborative and basically they were really funny so I thought ‘Whatever you guys want me to do, I’ll do!’ I trusted them.

When the show was pitched to you in its original format, was it all based around the Internet, funny videos and vines?

It was partly that…we had two different show ideas and merged them into one and then through trial and error we came up with what the show is today. I related with this concept because of what I watch, and what my friends watch…and I’m friends with a bunch of YouTubers so it made sense to me.

What videos and content do you enjoy on the Internet?

I’ve watched it all…and it may sound cliché but a lot of us from Glee watch singing videos and amazing performances, or viceversa, really bad performances. Most times it’s me and Amber watching videos back to back.

I also watch a lot of videos similar to some you see in the show where I hate them as much as I love them, you know? Like people embarrassing themselves or having to do weird things…

Like that grapefruit video you guys used in one of the shows!

That was funny for me! I had heard about that video the week before, at a wedding my friend told me about this grapefruit video and I refused to watch it. Then I come into the office for the show and they say ‘Do you know that video with the grapefruit?’ And that is my favourite thing about the show, because if my friends are talking about it, or doing it, then that is what people are talking about.

The thing for me, and for the producers, is that we didn’t want to sound like 80 year olds talking about the Internet. We wanted it to be about what people are talking about and actually interested so its real time. We’re shooting just a couple of weeks before it goes out so it’s current.

If you’re easily offended, don’t watch the following video


And you’re only 26 so you’ve grown up, same as me, without the Internet, and later on with dial-up. Do you feel just as clued up on everything as the younger generation?

I feel I try to be as much as I can or willing…but I do definitely feel behind on some things. Especially with a lot of YouTube videos were I will catch on to them late. For example, on the show, I probably will have seen half the content before which makes me feel like ‘OK, I kinda know what I’m doing.’

Do you find the Internet world slightly concerning in any way? The fact these videos, some featured on the show, are so embarrassing and you think ‘that will never be erased!’

Oh yeah, every time! But these videos also come and go; a video can go huge and everybody sees it, but I feel like now because its so common, it isn’t that serious. There is nothing you can’t come back from! If someone has something embarrassing online…there will be another huge video next week.

The funny thing is that how it is with anything; music, TV shows, movies, where we now can go in cycles with other forms of entertainment on the Internet and it is happening for the first time so we don’t really have the gage or the forthsight to know what is going to happen with these people in 5 years time.

Like when you make a fool of yourself at school and they say ‘Don’t worry, someone else will mess up next week!’

Exactly, you never leave High School right?!

From a comedy perspective, both Glee and Virtually Famous are very different concepts. What similarities and differences do you identify between British and American comedy as someone involved in both?

I guess British comedy, in general, is smarter. For example when I first read the Glee script, to me, it was more British humour than American. I feel like in America the comedy is more over the top, whilst here (UK) it’s much dryer, sarcastic, and smarter really.

I really respond to that sort of comedy and that’s what I like about Glee too. It’s almost like you’re aware of yourself and making fun of yourself the entire time.

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And how has your relationship been with Seann and Chris?

They are just amazing! Even though we’ve only shot the show for three weeks we’ve bonded over all of this and that reminds me of Glee; that feeling of family.

Did you know of any of their work beforehand?

Well I knew of Chris, because of Scott Mills, and I’ve known Scott for years. But I’d never met Chris, just heard him on the radio or seen his stuff when Scott tweets it. So I knew of him, and he knew of me, so when we finally met it felt like long lost brothers. We instantly got on and we both bonded over the fact we were going into a show and neither of us knew what we were doing!

I didn’t really know Seann but I’d heard of him because he’s brilliant and quite known over here so even though I was the host I was sort of looking up to him.

When watching the live recording I definitely felt like they had your back!

Completely! We always want to make sure everyone has the best show possible. We want everybody to be happy. Poor Chris though, we make him get punched!

Yeah, I really felt for Chris there. Hayes has a heavy hand! Kevin, I’ve noticed you’re rocking a new haircut; a touch Nick Grimshaw, a tad Alex Turner. Can we take credit for this-are you going a bit Brit?

You know what it is? I have to keep the same hairstyle 10 months out of the year for Glee so the other two I usually do something similar to this.

And considering at Spindle we love fashion, tell me a bit about your style.

I love fashion! I go in and out of how much I’m into it and didn’t really care much about it till I did Glee, mainly because the main costume designer always looked amazing so I’d question ‘How do I start dressing better?’

I don’t know what my style would be per say…but I do buy men’s fashion magazines and I do try and stay on top of it all. I mean I’m wearing a t-shirt and Nike’s right now. What happens is I’ll look at a picture, like 6 months on or so and say ‘What was I thinking?’

Virtually Famous premiers 21st of July 10pm on E4

Words: Irune ‘Rue’ Chamberlain