Scheer Force: How Paul Scheer Became TV's Hardest-Working Comedian
This year’s title of “busiest man in TV” may go to comedian Paul Scheer, who can be seem simultaneously on broadcast TV (ABC’s Fresh off the Boat), cable (FXX’s The League) and streaming (Hulu’s The Hotwives of Las Vegas) shows at the same moment.
And that’s not all. With Fox, Scheer is producing the digital series Filthy Sexy Teen$ for Fullscreen, along with Max Carver, Hannah Kasulka and Scott Wolf. He’s also developing a Star Wars-related project, hosts the podcast How Did This Get Made? and still pops up on shows like Adult Swim’s Childrens Hospital.
“All these things that I do don't pay very well, so you have to do a bunch of these,” Scheer recently told us on the KCRW TV podcast The Spin-Off. “It's more like pioneer life. You got to shoo the horses and do the crops and cook the dinner. It's a lot.”
How does he segment his time? Scheer lays it out: “The League takes 12 weeks to do 13 episodes. Hotwives takes 10 days to do eight half-hour episodes. Then to do Fresh Off the Boat, it's a more traditional schedule. It's one week, one half-hour episode. Fresh Off the Boat is the most traditional. It takes a while to do. I'm used to filming 12 to 14 pages a day. We did an entire season of [his Adult Swim series] NTSF:SD:SUV in 20 days. On Hotwives last season, we did 8 episodes in 7 days. We were knocking out over 25 pages a day.
Oh, and Scheer also has a baby and wife at home who he’d like to spend time with as well. Here are a few of his current career highlights:
The League (FX): Scheer plays the awkward, unusually dressed but wealthy plastic surgeon Andre. “I always felt it was an underdog,” he says of the comedy, now in its final season. “But we had an amazing fan base.”
Scheer says the show is ending at the right moment: “We're getting out before you get sick of us. Before you're like, ‘Aren't they a little too old to be doing that?’ I feel like it's good to be able to call your own edit. This last season, more than any other season of The League, we are going, ‘What haven't we done? What can we bring back? How can we put these characters on a course that we don't necessarily have to follow up on because there's no next season?’"
Fresh Off the Boat (ABC): He’s Mitch, a dim-witted co-worker at the Cattleman's Ranch Steakhouse. “The shows I watch are primarily on cable,” he says. “That being said, a show like Fresh Off the Boat is something I really, really love. It’s a legitimately funny show.”
Because of the traditional shooting schedule, Scheer enjoys rare periods of downtime on set. "I'm not used to trailer time," he says. "Whenever I'm working, I'm working. I'm not in my trailer. On Fresh Off the Boat, it's a whole different vibe."
The Hotwives of Las Vegas (Hulu): Scheer executive produces the Real Housewives parody and parodies Andy Cohen as the Hotwives executive producer and recap show host Matty Green. He also appears as Van Silversan, the magician husband of one of the wives.
Scheer-RL (YouTube): Scheer plays Carson Daly in this frame-for-frame re-enactment of the best 1990s/ 2000s moments from MTV’s TRL. (He did a similar thing with old Arsenio Hall Show clips, re-enacted as The Arscheerio Paul Show). “ They're the dumbest ideas ever, but it's great ... Where else can I do that but the Internet?”
Scheer said he was drawn to parodying Arsenio Hall and TRL because they are time capsules of their eras–when talent was less polished and willing to speak their mind on TV. On TRL, “It was these flashes in the pan, for the most part, who were holding themselves as if they were like ‘I'm going to live forever,’” Scheer says. “They were like the kings of this little moment and just taking themselves so seriously and their pop music so seriously. Carson, to his credit, treated everyone with this ridiculous respect. It was so earnest in a heartfelt way. I love that.”
Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (Netflix): Scheer is Dave, a street-smart journalist. Scheer wasn’t in the original 2001 film, but on YouTube he did recently upload a talk show parody he and Jake Fogelnest conducted that year at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York with the movie’s cast.
Crash Test (Vimeo): Scheer and Rob Huebel, two-thirds of the comedy team Human Giant, came up with the idea of taping a comedy special on a fast-moving bus. Ben Stiller is a producer. Says Scheer: “Rob and I don't do standup. We do more bits, characters, sketches, and we went to Paramount. I was like, ‘Can we rent this bus and do a show on it?’ They're asked what the script was. I told them, ‘We don't have one. We're going to improvise it and we're going to just call all of our friends and do the show.’ Ben Stiller was behind it. Paramount wrote us a check, a meager check, but a check, and let us go do this thing. It was amazing because we did a comedy special in one take!"