Q&A — Paul Scheer from “The League”

by | October 27, 2009 at 10:15 AM | TV News

Paul Scheer (FX)

Paul Scheer (FX)

If you were in a fantasy league for comedy performers, the talent behind the new FX comedy ‘The League’ might make you a contender.

The lineup for the show – which premieres Thursday and showcases the foibles and machinations of a group of fantasy-football-obsessed dudes — starts with creator Jeff Schaffer.

After show-running ‘Seinfeld,’ it was Schaffer who perfected the craft of the semi-improved TV series while executive producing HBO’s ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm.’

The show stars comedian Nick Kroll, who has been predicted by industry insiders to produce big stardom numbers for several years (he was Adam in ‘Worst Week,’ but he’s probably due to break out soon).

There’s Mark Duplass, who broke out over the summer with the summer indie comedy ‘Humpday.’

There’s Stephen Rannazzisi, best known for his work in ‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop.’

Also on the roster: Toronto native Jon Lajoie, who’s only claim to fame so far is a YouTube video (rap parody ‘Everyday Normal Guy’), but has somehow managed to get on several big comedy up-and-comers list nonetheless.

Watch previews of ‘The League’ here.

Then there’s Paul Scheer, the gap-toothed former denizen of Human Giant, the highly acclaimed comedy troupe that produced Aziz Ansari and Rob Huebel.

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Fancast caught up with Scheer last week, as he was adjusting his own fantasy league roster.

So this show is “soft-scripted, just like ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm.’ How much of the dialog is improv?

The writers have hilarious lines they give us, and we’re able to improvise a lot. There are three cameras shooting, so you’re getting every angle, which is also great. I’ve worked on movies where you can have an improvised moment, then you try to duplicate it, and it’s never as good as first response.

So tell us about your character.

Every character on the show is obsessed with fantasy football in some way or another. The show is focused on how fantasy football takes over these guys’ lives, and the lies they tell and the things they do to beat each other. My guy was the punching bag among this group of friends in high school. They’re all in their thirties and still live next teach other. My character is all grown up now, and he’s clearly the most successful in the group as far as money and sweet lifestyle, but these guys still pick on me, partly because I make a lot of bonehead picks. I drafted Marshall Faulk the year after he retired, and I made a trade for Plaxico Burress after he’d already been sent to jail. In fact, they have a termed for that on the show. They tell me, “You got trade raped.”

How into fantasy football are you in real life?

Now I’m addicted to it. But before Jeff (Schaffer) approached me about doing the show, I wasn’t. In fact, before I wasn’t sure I could improvise about fantasy football – it wasn’t in my wheelhouse. But that changed fast. I just got married about two weeks ago, and I was literally sneaking out of my hotel room to read blogs and check my lineup.

So who is the best fantasy player on the set?

Jeff is like the best, he’s been doing it for years. That’s how he thought of this show. But I beat him the first week out; I beat him by one point. It was so sweet. I have weird lineup; my browser crashed in middle of the draft, and I ended up with Santana Moss and this weird team that somehow pulled together to beat Jeff, who has team of all-stars. I’m 5-1 right now.

So tell us about some funny scenes from the pilot.

Well, there’s the one where we try to figure out the draft order, and we all go over a friend’s house, the commissioner, who happens to be throwing a kids birthday part. To pick the draft order, we all pick one of the kids in the potato sack race, and the order of finish will determine the order in which we choose our players. Things get inappropriate fast. We’re all standing their yelling, cussing and screaming for our “kid” to win. In another arc, one of the characters is having troubles with his wife, but he’s already paid for a spa vacation. One of the friends says, “I want to go with you,” and the arc is all about he weirdness that ensues on the “mancation.”

Sounds funny, but this does not sound like a chick show. Then again, there’s some decent female talent on this show like Leslie Bibb and Katie Aselton.

I think women will take to it. They’ll relate that maybe their husbands are complete idiots just like the guys on the show. I think women will respond to it because it really is about relationships. Plus, you’d be surprised how many women are really into fantasy football.