Joel grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and went to S.M.U. in Dallas where he received a B.F.A. in Acting. After graduating he moved to Minnesota and co-founded The Hidden Theatre.
In 1995 Spence joined Theatre de la Jeune Lune performing in over 20 productions over the course of five years. From 2000-01, Spence studied at l'Ecole Philippe Gaulier in London, England. Currently Spence is Matt on HBO's Big Little Lies and Joel in ABC's digital series Boondoggle. He's had recurring roles on HBO's The Brink and ABC's Fresh Off The Boat. He was a series regular in the Nickelodeon pilot Back Of The Class. He had a recurring role as James Van Der Beek's agent, Donnie Jarvis, on ABC's Don't Trust The B---- In Apt 23 and a recurring role as Detective Hodges on The Good Guys on Fox. He has also appeared on Key & Peele, Newsreaders, Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother, Big Love, Reno 911, My Name Is Earl, and Burn Notice. He appeared in such features as Freak Dance, Killing the Dream (Best Film - 2004 Temecula Film Festival) and Alleyball (Best Feature - SoCal Film Festival 2006). In 2013 he co-directed two shorts – one of which, Justin and Heather, was accepted into the Downtown Independent Film Festival Los Angeles.
Joel has been performing long form improv and sketch comedy at UCBTLA since 2005. He's a member of the house teams Sentimental Lady and Toledo Rep. He's also appeared in ASSSSCAT, Soundtrack, America's Best Comic, Quick and Funny Musicals, Dirtiest Sketch Contest, Cleanest Sketch (winner!), Gallery Of Evil, F–ed Up and Illegal Videos, and Freak Dance at UCBTLA. You can follow him on Twitter @joelaspence.