Why Joel McHale could never be on Saturday Night Live

McHale’s Hiking with Kevin appearance is far from the first time he’s openly discussed his dyslexia. 

During a June 2014 interview with NPR, McHale admitted that he “really [has] to concentrate” while reading teleprompters, and tried to hide any struggle he had while promoting The Soup on various different talk shows. He elaborated, “It might not look like I’m concentrating and I’m just screwing around, but I really do have to concentrate while I’m reading. And half of the time I’m getting it wrong, but you can’t tell because I’m just making up different words for it. It’s smoke and mirrors.”

It wasn’t until a few years later that McHale revealed how exactly he discovered he has dyslexia: when one of his sons was diagnosed with it. He shared during a May 2018 appearance on Dax Shepard’s podcast Armchair Expert (via PEOPLE), “My sons are also dyslexic. One was being diagnosed, and the doctor […] was describing all of the symptoms and I was like, ‘That’s what I have.’ And she goes, ‘Oh I was wondering which [parent] it was because it’s passed down.'” 

Growing up, McHale didn’t realize he was dyslexic, as he never received a formal diagnosis and had to “repeat grades” in school. “They literally diagnosed me [as a] slow-starter,” McHale told Shepard, adding that his father “clearly has dyslexia” and likely passed it down to him.

Though his personal anxiety about his dyslexia kept him from Saturday Night Live, McHale has let nothing else stop him from success. To date, the actor-comedian has two Critics’ Choice Television Award nominations and a Primetime Emmy Award nomination under his belt — plus a lengthy filmography that includes The Great Indoors, The X-Files, Santa Clarita Diet, The Masked Singer, Card Sharks, The Happytime Murders, and even Rick and Morty and Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge.

Find new episodes of Hiking with Kevin on Kevin Nealon’s YouTube channel.

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