'Party Over Here': Inside Fox's New Sketch Comedy from The Lonely Island
Before they decided to create a Saturday-night sketch-comedy series for Fox, The Lonely Island comedy troupe (Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone) made sure to get the blessing of Saturday Night Live executive producer Lorne Michaels.
Their show, Party Over Here, will run for 30 minutes, so it won’t air opposite NBC’s SNL. But given The Lonely Island’s relationship with SNL (where they created memorable digital shorts like Lazy Sunday and D*** in a Box), Michaels’s OK was important.
“We want to be asked back,” says Samberg, who also stars on Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine. “That’s still our home and our family. We want to do something new and exciting and fun, but we didn’t want to have any direct conflict.”
Party Over Here is Fox’s latest attempt to program the Saturday late-night slot, where the network once aired the sketch series MADtv and the irreverent animation block Animation Domination HD. The Lonely Island partnered with comedian Paul Scheer (The League) to create the show, which has been given an initial 10-episode order.
The sketch show came out of The Lonely Island's production deal with Fox to develop and produce a wide range of projects for both TV and online.
"They came to us and said they had a time slot that they wanted us to develop for," Samberg says. "And we got with Billy Rosenberg, the point person on our Fox deal, and we talked to Paul about coming on and helping us create it."
The Lonely Island trio and Scheer kicked around several ideas, and looked at a wide array of comedians (both male and female), before coming up with Party Over Here. "Of all the different versions of it, this was the one we were most excited about," Samberg says.
When casting, the guys who will make cameos, but who are mainly working behind the scenes, zeroed in on three female comics who all spent time performing with the Upright Citizens Brigade: Nicole Byer, Jessica McKenna and Alison Rich. “They have a different energy, they play off each other really well, and they all make me laugh really hard,” Samberg says.
Byer's credits include Girl Code and 30 Rock and she also wrote and starred in the web series Pursuit of Sexiness with SNL's Shasheer Samata. McKenna appeared on The Goldbergs, Comedy Bang! Bang! and Hot Wives of Las Vegas. Rich was an SNL staff writer, and has also guest starred on Angie Tribeca and Life In Pieces.
"We’re lucky to have these three women; they're very sought after," Scheer says. "As much as we can keep the three together, our dream would be to do this show again with the same cast and the same writers. It’s about this ensemble."
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The series taped last month at downtown Los Angeles' Alexandria Hotel, so it steers clear of current events. "Because the show has no ultimate structure, we don’t have to talk about what's going on that week," Scheer says. "It can be evergreen stuff. It allows the writers to go in all sorts of different directions."
Instead, its edgy fare is keeping Fox’s censors on their toes. In one sketch, Byer simulates sex with a ghost (“There’s nothing there, she’s clothed," says Scheer), and another tackles the ubiquitous TV commercials about "transvaginal mesh."
Scheer admits Party airs in a “death slot,” so the producers will also focus on spreading sketches online via social media, including some uncensored segments.
"You will not need a TV to watch this show," Scheer says. "It will be on Facebook, YouTube. Fox has been aggressive in saying they want it out there for everyone to see."
Party Over Here, Series premiere, Saturday, March 13, 11/10c, Fox