In the better part of the last decade, Paul Scheer has gone from being a live improv comedian with the New York-based troupes UCB Theater and Chicago City Limits to a successful film and television actor. One third of the brains and face behind the hit MTV sketch comedy show Human Giant, Scheer quickly became a household name in the comedy world, and was named one of the nation’s top comics by Variety magazine and Alternative Press. But only two seasons into the series, the show was put on hold due to co-creator Aziz Ansari‘s duties as a cast member on NBC’s Parks and Recreation. Which has given Paul the time to pursue his other acting projects, appearing in everything from 30 Rock to VH1’s Best Week Ever. Since moving to L.A. the guy has acted alongside Hollywood megastars like Billy Bob Thornton, Eddie Murphy, and Terminal Laughter favorite Jeff Goldblum. His new film Year One, which stars Michael Cera and Jack Black, hits theatres June 19.
From Google Image searching, it appears that you were on the Children’s Show “Yo Gabba Gabba” and have also met a monkey. Which was better?
Hands down Yo Gabba Gabba. The monkey was too intimidating. He was a much better actor than me and he kept flipping me off in between takes while he ate his gummy worms.
I heard MTV gave you guys some problems with the “raped by a dinosaur” sketch. What happened with that?
MTV didn’t want us to say “raped by a dinosaur” they said it was too explicit. They suggested that we say “diddled by a dinosaur” but that just seemed really creepy, like the dinosaur was a weird uncle who wanted to take me to his basement. They eventually went for rape, I think Sway went to bat for us. He loves saying Rape.
You guys are working on a feature length film for Ben Stiller’s Production Company. Is it at any stage where it can be talked about? Is it going to be similar to the Human Giant material at all, or will it be a fully plotted out movie where you guys all make bets to see who can lose their virginities?
It’s not going to be a sketch movie, it’s going to be its own thing entirely. The tentative title is Tron 2.
You guys have a lot of guests on your show. It seems like now a lot more “alt-comedy” acts are collaborating and organizing a kind of scene that is similar to how music scenes have always operated. Your show also has some musicians on it, bringing the music and comedy scenes together. Why do you think this is, and do you think it is changing the way that comedians approach comedy?
Also our group was a typical “sketch group” even when we first started making shorts we loaded them with our friends and we just continued that trend. I don’t think we ever over thought it. We always wanted to work with people that we were fans of, so we’d kinda keep a long list of people we loved as writers and performers (no matter how absurd) and when a sketch came up with a part in it that they’d be right for we’d try to get them in the show. The closest person that we almost got to do a cameo was Dustin Hoffman. In that same vein, we also had a rotating writing staff, that way we could work with a lot of really amazing people who didn’t have to commit to a long term job, people like Patton Oswalt, Jay Johnston, Dan Mintz, Harold Kremer, Brian Poeshn, Matt Walsh and loads more.
I love that there is cross over in between comedy and music, I think the unifying factor is the fans. I think “alt” comedy and music often share the same venues and the audience likes them both. So it’s great to be able to be teamed together.
You also do a lot of improv-based comedy. How much does improv factor into the writing process for your scripted stuff? Do you prefer doing improvisational comedy or scripted sketches?
I love the ability to find new things in the moment that comes with improvising, but in HG everything we did was really tightly scripted and then when we got to the set, we allowed ourselves to go in different directions after we got what was written.
I don’t know if I prefer one or the other, I think it’s always best to have a combo. It’s the same idea with the Poo Poo Platter in Chinese food, why have one appetizer when you can cook 7 different appetizers over a scalding hot sterno.
PS All my theories stem from Chinese food dining.
Who is better: Drew Carey or Clive Anderson?
Drew was great but Clive was more interesting. He was never amused by the performers, he was a king that never was pleased with his jesters. It’s much more dramatic. I wouldn’t be suprised if he shot himself and left a note that said, “The world didn’t please me”
What happened with The Onion movie?
Who knows? You can finally see it on DVD and I think it plays on a weird cable network a bunch, that’s according to my dad, apparently he saw it while Nordic tracking in the rumpus room.
Who is the tallest person you’ve ever met?
Kevin Grievoux…He’s the bad ass lycan RAZE in the UNDERWORLD movies. He looks like real life a He-Man action figure. He awesome, super talented, and if I never needed to intimidate someone, I’d call him up and ask him to stand behind me and at the end of whatever I was saying, I just want him to go, “YEAH”
What is your favorite thing to do on the internet?
Looking at WebMD self diagnosing myself then doing surgery in the comfort of my own home. That and ALF bloopers.
You started out in New York and have since moved to L.A., and have been on a number of major shows and worked with some famous people like Jeff Goldblum, etc. Are there ever moments where you just kind of sit back and think: “Wow. Jeff Goldblum, you may have been ripped in The Fly, but you are old now and I am physically dominant”?
Everyday and when I left the set, I pulled him real close and said, “It’s your lucky day, I’m going to let you live”. Then I patted him on the back and walked away.