“The League” and “Black Monday” star Paul Scheer sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “Hollywood at Home,” a podcast featuring unplugged and uncensored conversations with today’s biggest stars. In the newest episode, Scheer talks about why he chose to be an activist, the importance of discourse in the age of cancel culture, how Nick Kroll convinced him to audition for “The League,” and much more. Highlights below.
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Highlights from “Hollywood at Home” featuring Paul Scheer –
On winning a Television Humanitarian Award and why he chose activism: “You know, I think there is never really a thought of like, ‘Why do it?’ For me, I think that, yeah, I’ve noticed that, a lot of times, when you speak up publicly about anything that has two sides, half of the people that you are speaking to–and sometimes more than half–are going to be pissed off about it. But I do believe that if you have any sort of a public stage, that it’s your right and your duty–and your privilege–to shine a light, take that light that’s shining on you and kind of shine it to other places and other directions. And, you know, I will say that I always feel like, ‘Oh, am I doing enough?’ I don’t know. I’m slightly embarrassed to even be getting this award. But what I love is learning from the amazing people in my life, first and foremost, my wife, June Diane Raphael, who is someone who wrote a book about how to run for office, how women could run for office. Anything from, you know, local dog catcher all the way up to President. But it was sort of like, taking back– and I think that she’s always been incredibly social and civic minded. And that has led me to get more involved in my community. And that’s local politics and talking to local politicians and seeing that. And then when I meet people like Jane Fonda, who, you know, have a career of, ultimately, and I don’t know if I can curse–but you can bleep it–like not giving a fuck what people think and just kind of getting out there and believing in things fully. She’s one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met because she’s constantly learning and she’s bringing people in and what she did with fire drill Fridays, where people were getting arrested every Friday. It wasn’t about getting arrested. It was about, that’s how the news cycle will cover it…. And that’s why, you know, I think I first started getting involved in all of this, and just kind of canvassing for politicians. I think Barack Obama was the person that kind of brought me into the idea of being a little bit more socially aware about what this is going to be, you know, why we should be doing this. And, I grew up in New York City, and I was in New York during 9/11. And there was a lot of community– not activism, but a lot of community work there, you know, in that time, as well. And I think those certain things, these things started to pique my interest.”
On cancel culture and the importance of discourse: “I think there’s a lot of talk lately, about, like, ‘What can you say, I can’t say anything anymore.’ And I think I have an issue with that. Because I think the difference is twofold. I think you can say whatever you want, right? You can say whatever you want. Now, how people will take it, you have to take those lumps, too, right? And that’s fine. If you’re willing to go both ways. Like, if you’re gonna get up there and say, ‘I don’t like blank.’ If you’re gonna have feedback for that, then that’s, that’s the world that we live in. That’s totally fine. I think that, in a weird way, I applaud anyone who says anything that they believe in, and I’m not trying to say, like, I believe in hate speech, but I’m saying if it, like, gets a conversation going on some level, like a lot of these debates about, quote unquote, like, “cancel culture,” can you say this, have been debates. Well, what is that? What does that actually mean? Are we having articles about it? Or are we like, ‘What is this?’ I do think that dialogue is something that people are always afraid to have, because I may not have a full opinion. I need to hear what other people think. I need to like, take it in. I need to be wrong. I need to be able to change my opinion. I think the only thing I really hope for is that, can you allow me to change my opinion? The thing that I did 10 years ago, I probably wouldn’t do today. I’m a different person.”
On how Nick Kroll convinced him to audition for “The League”: “The League” is an interesting one, because “The League” was about fantasy football. And I like football, but I didn’t know anything about fantasy football. And I had met with Jeff and Jackie the creators, Jeff Schaffer and Jackie Schaffer. Jeff was a part of this three-headed monster: Berg, Schaffer, Mandel. They ran “Seinfeld” after Larry left, they ran the first seasons of “Curb” together. Mandel went off to make “Veep,” Jeff went off to make “The League” and Alec Berg made “Silicon Valley” and “Barry.” So they are just geniuses in their field. And Jeff and Jackie had hatched this idea together about Jeff’s life of having a fantasy football league that he kind of was so subservient to. And so we had met and we talked about improv, and he wanted to do a show that was like “Curb” that was improvised about a bunch of people that were in a fantasy football league. So I talked, but they never told me what the premise was at that point. They never told me what the premises. They just want to do think about a group of guys who are together. Great, great, great. We had great meetings. And then all of a sudden, I got a phone call from one of my favorite casting directors. And she was like, ‘Hey, they want to call you in for this thing to do some chemistry tests, the show’s about fantasy football,’ and I was like, ‘I’m out. I don’t know how to improvise about fantasy football. I just don’t know anything about it and I’d look like an idiot. I’m not going to do it.’ So I pass, and a couple of weeks pass, and I get a phone call from Nick Kroll, my buddy. And Nick’s like, ‘Hey, did you pass on coming in for the show?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s about fantasy football. I can’t improvise about fantasy football.’ And he was like, ‘Dude, you should come in, it’s gonna be fine.’ And I was like, ‘Really?’ And he’s like, ‘Come in.’ So I call back up the casting director. I was like, ‘Can I come back in?’ And they’re like, ‘Well, we were done casting. But let me ask Jeff and Jackie.’ And they asked Jeff and Jackie and they said, ‘Yep, come on, in.’ They brought me in. I auditioned. They had this part in mind for me, and then they cast me. And that was one of those really lucky moments. Again, talking about connections– like Nick, you know, was on “Human Giant” and now he’s, you know, he’s cast in “The League.” He brings me into “The League” because I walked away from it. And I was never fearful of that show not being edgy because the– first of all it was on FX, which is, you know, I think the edgiest of all the cable ones– and also, Jeff and Jackie had amazing, you know, comedy credentials. Jackie had come working from Ivan Reitman’s company, and Jeff had, like I said, “Seinfeld,” “Curb.” So I felt like we were in good hands. In many respects, what we pushed there on the limits of what we pushed was, we couldn’t push far enough for that show. And that was kind of great. It spoiled me for everything else. Because in that show, you got to be kind of a writer and a performer. And I got to actually write the episodes, a couple of episodes of that show as well. So that was really exciting. Because I do like to be hands-on and get my say in there, as somebody who’s created shows and stuff. So that show was incredibly exciting. And then when I went over to “Veep,” two years after “The League” ended, it was equally exciting, but Dave Mandel relied a lot more on brilliant writing and then letting improv find its way into things.”
More about “Hollywood at Home”
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “Hollywood at Home” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. Listen now at http://thecreativecoalition.org/podcast.
Upcoming guests include Colman Domingo (“Euphoria”).
Previous guests include Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Shiri Appleby (“UnREAL”), Iain Armitage (“Young Sheldon”), Justin Bartha (“The Hangover,” “National Treasure”), David Alan Basche (“The Exes”), Asante Blackk (“This Is Us”), Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Aaron Cooley (“The First Lady”), Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Alan Cumming (“Schmigadoon!, “The Good Wife”), Ethan Cutkosky (“Shameless”), The Creative Coalition President and actor Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us”), Kerry Ehrin (“The Morning Show”), Wayne Federman (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Frances Fisher (“Titanic,” “Unforgiven”), Michael Fishman (“Roseanne,” “The Conners”), Jim Gaffigan (“The Jim Gaffigan Show”), LaMonica Garrett (“1883,” “Sons of Anarchy”) Willie Garson (“And Just Like That…”), Judy Gold (“The Other F Word”), Nicholas Gonzalez (“The Good Doctor”), Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Tony Hale (“Veep,” “Arrested Development”), Evan Handler (“And Just Like That…,” “Californication”), Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond,” “The Middle”), Jon Huertas (“This Is Us”), Jason Isaacs (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Harry Potter”), Susan Isaacs (“Compromising Positions”), Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Nathan Kress (“iCarly”), Jaren Lewison (“Never Have I Ever”), Chad Lowe (“Supergirl”), Aasif Mandvi (“The Daily Show”), Rachel Mason (“Circus of Books”), Marlee Matlin (“CODA”), AnnaLynne McCord (“Let’s Get Physical”), Eric McCormack (“Will and Grace”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”), Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters”), Melissa Manchester (“Don’t Cry Out Loud”), Molly Smith Metzler (“Maid,” “Shameless”), Marta Milans (“Shazam!”), Rob Morrow (“Billions”), Kathy Najimy (“Younger”), Ken Olin (“This is Us,” “Thirtysomething”), Haley Joel Osment (“Future Man,” “Entourage”), Joey and Daniella Pantoliano (“The Matrix,” “Memento”), Ross Patterson (“Range 15”), Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory”), Kyla Pratt (“The Proud Family”), Jessica Queller (“Supergirl”), Sheryl Lee Ralph (“Abbott Elementary”), Anthony Rapp (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Yolonda Ross (“The Chi”), Reid Scott (“Veep”), Mona Scott-Young (“Love & Hip Hop”), Alena Smith (“Dickinson”), Julie Taymor (“The Lion King”), Lea Thompson (“Back to the Future”), Tramell Tillman (“Severance”), Krista Vernoff (“Grey’s Anatomy”), KT Tunstall (“Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” “Suddenly I See”), Matt Walsh (“Veep”), Alfre Woodard (“Clemency,” “Luke Cage”), Constance Zimmer (“Good Trouble”), and David Zucker (“Airplane!,” “Scary Movie”).
More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating its members on issues of public importance. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. For more information, visit https://thecreativecoalition.org.