Chevy Chase’s reputation for being one of the most difficult comedians in Hollywood will be reinforced by actor and TV personality Joel McHale’s new memoir Thanks for the Money.
McHale starred with Chase in five seasons of Community, NBC’s comedy chronicling life at a community college in Colorado. The National Lampoon and Caddyshack actor crossed swords with McHale during filming in 2012 over a scene involving Chase’s character, Pierce Hawthorne, being called out over his racist attitudes.
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McHale, who played sarcastic ex-lawyer Jeff Winger in Community, recalls in his book, which come out later this month: “Chevy was bristling at how the scene was written and picked the worst possible way to express his anger. He said, in frustration, “Well, if my character is this much of a racist, then why don’t I just put Donald and Yvette on my knees and call them [the n-word]!”
“I was actually the only person who heard this…the first time he said it. Having gone unnoticed, Chevy decided to double down, so he repeated what he’d said—even louder. The room fell silent.
“And I announced, ‘We’ve officially reached DEFCON ONE” because I like to be helpful Chevy stormed out, and, inexplicably, headed straight to makeup and wardrobe for his next scene.”
Chase was just getting started, writes McHale: “He burst back onto set, screaming at the rest of the cast, ‘You’ve ruined my career! I’m NOT A RACIST,” he bellowed, waving mini-sombrero-and-Afro-adorned hands wildly.
“We calmly asked what he meant. ‘It’s all over the internet!,’ Chevy replied before once again storming out of the room. We all immediately checked our phones, and there was nothing about this anywhere.”
McHale adds: “My time alongside Chevy was alternately aggravating, bizarre and disappointing.”
“I had my share of tussles with Chevy during the production of Community. I’m not saying I didn’t necessarily deserve it. Chevy Chase had been a huge influence on a lot of people in my generation, and so I showed my respect and deference in the only way I knew how: by teasing him and getting him to say ridiculous things, and making him chase a laser pointer.
“So we were frequently at odds. He’d roughhouse with me in an effort to goad me into an aggressive form of ass-grabbery that I assume was how people related to each other in the ’70s, when all of them were on cocaine. I would react in kind, usually bending his arm at a weird angle until someone insisted that I stop…my knockabout attitude of confronting fellow celebrities had left one of them to actually fight back.”
Chase will likely be bothered by his former co-star’s comments, but he should have plenty of opportunities to let McHale to know his feelings. Coincidentally McHale is set to play Chase himself in upcoming film National Lampoon biopic A Futile and Stupid Gesture.