Guest of Honor

Paul Scheer’s Fantasy and Reality

"The League" star reveals the moment he knew the series was going to be a blast, why he can't look away from "The Bachelor," and how a skateboarding scene is often the sign of an awful film.

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Image Courtesy of Paul Scheer

Paul Scheer is probably best known for his role on the hit show “The League,” which launched its final season this month. He’s also a regular on the ABC sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat” and on the Hulu comedy series “The Hotwives” — a parody of reality shows. And if that weren’t enough, he also co-hosts the “How Did this Get Made?” podcast, which is dedicated to celebrating terrible films.

Brendan and Rico interviewed Paul on September 20, in front of a live audience at the Los Angeles Podcast Festival. [Ed note: You can hear the entire episode including Paul’s unabridged interview and his etiquette goodness with Aisha Tyler here.]

We kicked things off with a clip from “The League” in which Scheer’s character, a rich plastic surgeon named Dr. Andre Nowzick, has his group of friends over for their annual fantasy football draft. Andre shows off his tricked-out bachelor pad, complete with a large LED TV and a full NFL satellite package courtesy of…well, we’ll let Paul tell you who and why below. Andre attempts to give a toast to his friends, who continuously mock him by prematurely sipping their beers and interrupting him with “Cheers!”.

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Paul Scheer: That is one of my favorites. We’re in our final season right now, and that was the first ever episode that we shot. That was one of the moments I knew that the show would be really fun to do because the show is not fully scripted. It’s improvised. So, that whole cheers/toast thing was not in the script, and we found that in the moment, and I was like, “Oh, this show’s going to be really fun!”

Rico Gagliano: It’s so good.

Paul Scheer: It was basically- that was just an ad for me to do DirecTV because DirecTV was a sponsor, and I had to say, “60 inch TV with DirecTV!” And then we found–

Brendan Francis Newnam: Are you serious?

Rico Gagliano: Wow.

Paul Scheer: Yeah, I had to say, “60-inch TV with Red Zone!” or something, and I was like, “Oh, yeah. We loooove living in Chicago and eating Pizza Hut!” I never understood that.

Rico Gagliano: Yeah.

Paul Scheer: We were always like, “Get the Pizza Hut in here!” I was like, “Guys, we’re in the pizza capital of the world!”

Brendan Francis Newnam: So, you’re saying that a lot of the show’s improv. It’s a pretty filthy show.

Pictured: (l-r) Nick Kroll, Mark Duplass, Stephen Rannazzisi, Tyrann Mathieu, Calais Campbell, and Paul Scheer in a bucket hat. Photo Credit: Patrick McElhenney/FX
Pictured: (l-r) Nick Kroll, Mark Duplass, Stephen Rannazzisi, Tyrann Mathieu, Calais Campbell, and Paul Scheer in a bucket hat. Photo Credit: Patrick McElhenney/FX

Paul Scheer: Oh, yeah, it’s disgustingly filthy. Yeah.

Brendan Francis Newnam: And does that come from the improv or from the writers’ room?

Paul Scheer: It actually comes from the writers’ room, for the most part. The initial ideas… Jeff Schaffer and Jackie Shaffer created the show. Jeff has worked on “Seinfeld,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and then a lot of the Sacha Baron Cohen stuff. So, he has a great turn of phrase. Like, he created the term “re-gifting.” That was a “Seinfeld” term.

So that’s kind of his mentality, is finding something that people do, putting a name towards it, and then kind of getting it out. So, the new one — and I think the one that kind of took off the biggest in this show — is something called “Eskimo Brothers.”

Rico Gagliano: Oh, yeah.

Paul Scheer: And Eskimo Brothers are two of the guys that have had sex with the same girl…

Rico Gagliano: Yeah, real classy.

Paul Scheer: And I was very pleased as a “Bachelor” fan to hear it used in “The Bachelor” a lot this season. I was like, “Hey, we created that!”

Rico Gagliano: And, actually, I wanted to mention this; one of the shows that we mentioned that you’re on, “The Hotwives,” it is a parody of reality TV.

Paul Scheer: Yes.

Rico Gagliano: You are on record as being a fan of these shows…

Paul Scheer: I am.

Rico Gagliano: …Amy Schumer, famously, is a big fan of “Bachelorette.”

Paul Scheer: Yeah.

Rico Gagliano: Defend it to me. Like, you guys are obviously intelligent. Why?

Paul Scheer: Well, OK. To me, I’m a huge “Bachelor” fan. I love it because… I don’t know. Like, there’s something so amazing about these people being held captive [laughs] , and then been given one of the opposite sex. So, that person becomes amazing even if they’re not.

Two seasons ago, [the bachelor] Juan Pablo, was like, still living at home with his parents, and he would walk into the room and the women would be like, “Ah! He’s the love of my life! I love him all!” They’re not allowed any other contact, no social media, no phones.

So, I think it’s interesting from a sociological point of view. These people are subjecting themselves to it. It wasn’t like, you know, a van pulled up and someone, like, pulled them out of their law firm, and said, “Go! Go do this!”

Rico Gagliano: That is true, although, have you seen the TV show “UnREAL” that’s sort of…?

Paul Scheer: Yes.

Rico Gagliano: For those who don’t know, it’s behind the scenes, a fake behind the scenes at a reality TV show. And it was produced by a woman who actually worked in that world.

Paul Scheer: Which, she was, I believe, on your show, right?

Rico Gagliano: Yes, she was.

Paul Scheer: And I felt like, when you asked her like, “Oh, is this based on anything?” She was like, “No!”

Rico Gagliano: “No, not at all.”

Paul Scheer: And I was like, “Yes, it was! 100 percent!”

Rico Gagliano: Yeah, yeah.

Paul Scheer: She’s like, “No, because I’m going to get sued.”

Rico Gagliano: Yes.

Paul Scheer: I remember, in my car, going, “She’s lying! Every one of these things happened!”

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah.

Rico Gagliano: But my point being… something that she said is that people go on those shows thinking they can beat the system.

Paul Scheer: Oh, yeah.

Rico Gagliano: And they can’t beat the system.

Paul Scheer: Well, because here’s the thing. If I interview you for three hours, and you say one thing wrong and then that’s the only part that I show. They win. The house always wins.

Rico Gagliano: Yeah.

Paul Scheer: There’s a contestant on last season who just wore a short bikini, but they just put a black box over her wherever she went, so you just thought that her junk was hanging out, and then you just lower your expectation of this person. It’s like, “She just was wearing a bikini. Her junk wasn’t out!” But they make– they’ve now created the myth her junk is out.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Her junk is out?

Paul Scheer: And how does lady junk even get out!?!

Brendan Francis Newnam: Lady junk? That’s another podcast.

Rico Gagliano: That’s another catchphrase.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Hey, let’s talk about your podcast for a moment where you talk about bad movies.

Paul Scheer: Yes.

Brendan Francis Newnam: What is one of the craziest plots you’ve encountered?

Paul Scheer: What I’m obsessed with is movies that [try] to be everything to everyone, like “Super Mario Bros.,” “Masters of the Universe,” the “He-Man” movie, because what it is is some person who does not understand the property going, “Hey, kids like this! We’ll make it, but let’s leave out all the stuff that they like, and we’ll make it this way!”

“He-Man” is a movie and I mean, I’m not well versed in He-Man, but it’s about… it takes place in a different world, and there’s a skeleton man, and there’s a strong man, and they fight, and there’s magic, and they– for the movie, they go, “Forget all that! We’ll make it about two kids in love. Courteney Cox is one of them, and He-Man just kind of pops in because a transistor fell out of the sky!”

So, it’s like, He-Man’s in the middle of Earth running around. Like, it makes no sense. It’s like, what? They’re taking away the audience, and I always go– like, there are certain signposts of a bad movie, one being an elaborate skateboarding scene. Skateboarding or hover-boarding becomes a thing, and you can see that in “Batman & Robin,” the worst of the “Batman” movies. You can see it in “He-Man.” I think “Super Mario” has some skateboarding. Whenever [the filmmakers are] like, “Yeah, yeah! Kids, they love skateboarding. Get it in there!”

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah.

Rico Gagliano: “Throw that in!”

Brendan Francis Newnam: But so, the name of the podcast is “How Did This Get Made?”

Paul Scheer: Yeah.

Brendan Francis Newnam: You’ve been doing this for a while. You’ve lived in L.A. for awhile. How do these [types of films] get made?

Paul Scheer: Well, we’ve teamed up with this guy, Blake Harris. And Blake Harris wrote this book called “Console Wars.” He’s a great investigative journalist, and he has been doing real How-Did-This-Get-Mades of How-Did-This-Get-Mades. [For instance,] he’s doing oral histories with the people behind a Chuck Norris movie called “Top Dog,” which is a kid’s movie about a cop and a dog solving problems about white supremacists in San Diego.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Skateboarding scene? Skateboarding, right?

Paul Scheer: There’s no skateboarding in it, but there’s a lot of terrible racism. A dog does get shot, which is crazy for a kid’s movie. So, that has been really fascinating because the stories behind the actual things are way more interesting. They always are. It’s the best intentions, and sometimes you whiff, and sometimes you whiff with $50 million, and we have to talk about it.

Rico Gagliano: Yes. We have two questions that we ask everyone on the show that we have to get to. The first one is: if we were to meet you at a dinner party, what question should we not ask you?

Paul Scheer: Well, I mean, I’ll go with the, “Do you play fantasy football?”

Rico Gagliano: Oh, yeah!

Paul Scheer: Because even if I do, which I do, it’s not interesting. You don’t want to hear about my team, nor do I want to hear about your team.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah.

Paul Scheer: It’s really just like hearing someone talk about their dream. It’s only interesting to the person who had the dream. Unless we’re in a league together; then it’s 25 percent more interesting.

Rico Gagliano: Did you know much about football before you started that show?

Paul Scheer: Actually, I did not. I said I wouldn’t audition for the show because I was like, “I can’t improvise about fantasy football! I don’t play fantasy football!” And then, I got in, and now I’m in deep with fantasy football.

Rico Gagliano: Oh, no.

Paul Scheer: And it’s really tough because now I have a kid and I can’t watch football. So, I just have that.

Rico Gagliano: I thought you were going to say, “I can’t watch the kid. I just can’t pay attention to him.”