Comedian Scheer is juggling projects
It is not a surprise to find that Paul Scheer talks fast. He doesn’t have time not to.
As a performer, writer, director and/or producer at the center, middle or edge of a wide variety of creative projects — mostly but not exclusively in the world of comedy (mainstream and fringe) — Scheer, 43, keeps up a career that would make a bee feel like a slacker.
You will have seen him on television in good wigs (Showtime’s “Black Monday”), bad ones (as in his Adult Swim action parody “NTSF:SD:SUV”) or with no wig at all, as a regular in FX’s “The League” or in recurring roles on ABC’s “Fresh Off The Boat” and HBO’s “Veep.”
You may have heard him on one or both of his podcasts. “How Did this Get Made?” is about terrible movies, and “Unspooled,” which he co-hosts with film critic Amy Nicholson, is about ostensibly great ones.
He’s onstage too, with his “Hanging with Paul Scheer,” which he describes as “a show-and-tell show, like a dinner party with props,” or at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, where he improvises regularly. For that matter, you may have read him: “Cosmic Ghost Rider Destroys Marvel History,” his latest series for Marvel Comics, began appearing in early March.
“The benefit of what we get to do, for as long as we’re here, is to try everything we possibly can,” Scheer told me recently. “I think podcasting has made me a better writer; what I’ve learned from comic book writing has made me a better director.”
The following is an edited transcript.
Q: Was there comedy in your household as a child?
A: I’m an only child, I was home alone a lot, watching a ton of TV, ran around the front lawn talking to myself. My dad showed me a lot of comedy, and would show me R-rated movies but cut out scenes of sex and violence — so I remember watching a bootleg copy of “Beverly Hills Cop” that was missing 30 minutes. He knew I loved Eddie Murphy so much. Watching “Saturday Night Live” with him Sunday mornings was, like, the best memory for me.
Q: How did you get started in comedy?
A: I grew up on Long Island. My parents were divorced and my dad would be, like, “Let’s go see stuff in the city.” And so we would go to this church basement and see Chicago City Limits, a short-form “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” improv show. And I fell in love with it. They had classes, and my dad would drive me into the city.
Then the Upright Citizens Brigade came to town. I started taking classes with them, and as their theater was building up, they were, “We want you to do shows.” UCB was nothing back then, but it was the totally right choice. I made my best friends there. I got to audition for “Saturday Night Live,” I started to do bits on “Conan.” A whole world opened up.
Scheer says podcasting has made him a better writer.