The League's Paul Scheer Talks Comic-Con Surprises, Bad Movies
Here is the thing about Paul Scheer: Paul Scheer does a lot of stuff, and it is all great. You may be familiar with this comedian and actor from his hit fantasy-football send-up The League, his amazing action spoof NTSF:SD:SUV::, his hilarious biweekly podcast How Did This Get Made, or any number of other places. Paul's also a super friendly dude, and he took time out of his League shooting schedule to talk to us about his upcoming appearance at this week's San Diego Comic-Con, as well as the future of his two shows, why you don't have to be a jock to play fantasy football, and why Spider-Man 3 is so, so bad.
The MindHut: For someone who's never heard of NTSF:SD:SUV::, how do you describe it in a few sentences?
Paul: Basically, NTSF is a parody of every huge show on TV, because every show is this ridiculous cop or lawyer drama with a ton of acronyms in the title... NCIS LA, CSI Miami... this is National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle::. A lot of people say it's a funnier version of CSI Miami. I would say it's equally as funny as CSI Miami.
What's ultimately so fascinating to me about these shows in general is, for one, the level of intense graphic violence that is dealt with so cavalierly. There's literally a guy getting shot, and another guy puts his finger in that guy's bullet wound and says "Come on, talk to me, talk to me!" It's like, whoa, that's pretty intense. Also, they're so ridiculous. There's an episode of CSI Miami where a guy got shot in outer space. The CSI team went to space to figure out the crime. That's true. So we're just slightly skewing that a little bit.
The MindHut: You guys have a panel screening at Comic-Con on Friday.
Paul: We actually have two. We have a screening on Friday at the Hilton Bayfront, and then on Saturday we're doing a smaller, private panel at Nerd HQ with a brand-new episode that was not shown at Comic-Con, which we're really excited about. I love Comic-Con, but Nerd HQ does kind of different panels you can actually get in to. Sometimes all you do at Comic-Con is wait in line.
The MindHut: What can people who go to the panels look forward to, either at Comic-Con or at Nerd HQ?
Paul: We created an NTSF comic book specifically for Comic-Con, and it's the most big-budget version of NTSF ever. It involves the Greek gods coming back and wreaking havoc on San Diego. That'll be given out, and there're going to be some signings.
I think ultimately when you come to a panel for our show, we really don't take anything too seriously. I think the last panel we did, in Austin, TX, we did a Children's Hospital/NTSF joint panel, and Ken Marino (who plays Dr. Glenn Richie on Children's Hospital) was running into the audience and singing with different people. It's a fun panel; we're just trying to be involved with the audience. We have no spoilers to give; we want to screen some new episodes that people haven't seen before. Everything we're showing is brand-new, because the show won't start 'til August 9. We have some cool new stuff; we're going to be premiering a music video shot by these guys the Daniels who are amazing music video directors. We're doing a whole bunch of stuff.
The MindHut: Can we only get the comic at the panel, or is there a booth you guys will be at?
Paul: We're going to have a signing on Saturday; there will be comic books there. I think that the best chance to get it will probably be at the panels.
The MindHut: On NTSF you work with Kate Mulgrew, who famously played Captain Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager. If you could work with any other Trek actor OR character, living or dead, who would you pick?
Paul: That's a good question. We literally ask this question at the beginning of every season... well, not the "dead" part. We try to put a special cast member in every season. This season we got Q, John DeLancie, who's such an amazing character actor. Last year we got Robert Picardo ("The Doctor" on Voyager). We're talking about doing this "NTSF Goes to the UK," and I'd love to get Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard on The Next Generation).
The MindHut: Let's shift gears to How Did This Get Made. What draws you to bad movies? What makes them so much fun for you guys?
Paul: I literally enjoy bad movies. I'm not looking at it ironically, and I think June (Diane Raphael, co-host and wife) and Jason (Mantzoukas, co-host) are the same way. There's a joy in watching some of these train wrecks. The vibe of the show is very much "Oh my God, did you see this? This was insane!" and less "that director sucks." We come at it as fans. The thing that drives me to it is the feeling that you get when you see a really bad movie; you want to share it with your friends. I think everyone had that experience with The Room and Birdemic. The reason this show came about was I was talking to Jason about Wall Street 2; I just went beat-by-beat about how insane this movie was, and Jason said "you should just do that as a podcast."
The MindHut: Do you have a favorite bad movie of all time? Or, conversely, is there one that's just so painful you take no joy in it at all?
Paul: I love bad movies that are so clearly trying not to be a bad movie, like Green Lantern or Old Dogs. Old Dogs in particular is amazing. They're trying so hard; there's a lot of money behind it, there's a lot of advertising, there're huge stars, but it just misses. That to me is the most entertaining movie: a movie that's trying to be everything, but it just fails miserably. I understand why, like, The Gingerbread Man with Gary Busey is bad. When you have $120 million and still make a bad film, I'm more curious about that.
The MindHut: Speaking of movies like that, your minisode this week indicated that you'd be covering Spider-Man 3 next week, which is a perfect fit. Don't spoil the episode, but if you had to sum up everything that you thought was awful about Spider-Man 3 in one sentence, what would you say?
Paul: Spider-Man 3 has equal amounts dancing and Spider-Man fighting.
The MindHut: That about nails it. Alright, last thing; we've got to talk about The League, which you were shooting today. It seems that you really don't have to be super into football to enjoy this show. Who do you think is The League's target audience?
Paul: Basically it's anyone between 18 and their mid-30s. It's just a funny show. It's created by one of the guys who was behind Curb Your Enthusiasm; he wrote on Seinfeld. It's a comedy show, the package just happens to be football. You don't have to be into football; it's not about football. It's just the thing that brings these guys together. The show certainly goes way off in many different directions. To people who say "I don't like football" I say "just watch it." I think people will be surprised at the lack of football.
The MindHut: The actors on the show actually play in a fantasy football league. Can you offer any insight as to who the best player is in The League's league?
Paul: Nick (Kroll, who plays Ruxin) won our trophy last year, and the year before that it was Katie Duplass (who plays Jenny). I come in consistently second or third. I've never played fantasy football; Katie's never played fantasy football. Nick either. The people who've actually played fantasy football are doing worse in this league.
The MindHut: I mean, it's a math game, right?
Paul: It's more of a luck game. Are you good at guessing? Then you're good at fantasy football.
The League returns to FX Thursday nights at 10:30 PM in October. NTSF:SD:SUV:: hits airwaves August 9 on Adult Swim. The NTSF Comic-Con panel will be held in the Hilton Bayfront's Indigo Ballroom this Friday at noon.