Paul Scheer Talks 'NTSF:SD:SUV' And The Danger Of Punching Animals
Only a few months after his FX comedy "The League" was picked up for another season, Upright Citizens Brigade veteran Paul Scheer has launched a new comedy for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.
"NTSF:SD:SUV," (or National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle) is Scheer's absurdist take on initial-heavy police procedurals like "CSI" and action dramas like "24." It will premiere Thursday night following "Children's Hospital," (which itself is a parody of weepy medical shows) and stars Scheer, Rebecca Romijn, Martin Starr and Rob Riggle, among others.
Scheer revealed some insider info to HuffPost, including the genesis of his new show, why we shouldn't be safe in comedy, and a roster of upcoming guest stars that should have "Star Wars" fans salivating. Or crying. Or both?
The first iteration of this project was much shorter. How did it become a more fleshed out project?
I'd pitched this idea to Adult Swim since they had a hole to fill in between "Childrens Hospital" shows. But this was actually a different situation, in a way, because I had an idea for the full TV show, and they were like, "Why don't you just make the trailer for it first?" Which was so much harder than it actually sounds.
When you're writing a trailer for a show, you haven't really figured out who these characters are, or what they do, exactly, you're just kind of putting these things together as you go along. It was a fun challenge, and it definitely informed the show a lot. But, for example, there's a scene in the trailer where I punch a dog -- and the people at Adult Swim were like, "Oh, great, so there's gonna be more of that in the show?" But the only reason I did that was because there was a dog prop on the set and I thought it'd be funny. So then it's suddenly, like...
The whole show could just become you punching animals.
Right, yeah. I mean, it was a positive and negative thing, making that [trailer] first. It definitely helped us out stylistically and tonally. We knew what we were going for, and we established it with [the trailer].
Rob Corddry told us recently that he made a conscious effort not to have the characters or story lines connect in any logical way for "Children's Hospital." Was that also something you wanted to do with this show?
We're parodying the procedurals -- "CSI," "Law & Order," "Hawaii 5-0" to some extent -- and the reason they're so popular is because week to week they're brand new. The case is over, and now there's another case the next week. It's definitely not continuous like "24." Basically: if you tune in four weeks from now, you will not be lost.
Do you think people are less willing to take chances on comedy shows nowadays? A lot of new comedies seem to fall by the wayside before they've ever had a chance to breathe.
I think there is some truth to that. There's a constant level of fear. Are people going to watch it, is this going to happen, is that going to work -- there's always a fear of that. I would love to see what it would be like if you just had three weeks without network notes [from executives]. Like, if every show could do whatever they wanted for just three weeks! Just to see what the instincts are. Because it always becomes this thing of "We got to water it down, water it down." For me, that's why I like working with places like FX and Adult Swim. They both get it -- they're more willing to let you go off, do your own thing.
Adult Swim was pretty hands off?
There are definitely notes, but for this show we got to cast who we wanted, and do a lot of things without studio interference.
Since you guys were working on a tight schedule, was there a lot of time to improvise?
There was definitely a pretty solid script, but everyone brought something to the characters. I don't think Martin Starr ever said the line on the page, once. But he got the idea out. We improvised the whole opening of the [first episode]. There were definitely a lot of improvised moments, but we didn't get on set and fuck around. Everyone was very solid.
Any favorite guest stars in the first season you're excited about?
We got Jeff Golblum, and he was the best, so amazing. And then there's, like, the bad guy from "Karate Kid!" He plays the bad guy in our show. Peter Serafinowicz, who played Darth Maul [in "Star Wars"], he saw the original trailer and wanted to be involved. So we were like, "Why don't we just have him be the voice of the robot?" So he plays the robot. We just taped Mark Hamill, he's doing the voice of the dolphin in our show. We have a serial killer dolphin.
That's a pretty great assortment.
Adult Swim literally pays, like, maybe thirty bucks by the time you walk out of there. No one was doing it for the money. It was definitely just like, "Let's have a good time." J.K. Simmons did an episode and he was just like, "Can I make sure I'm out for my kid's little league game?" I was like, "No problem."
If a cop punching a dolphin voiced by Mark Hamill is your bag, you'll probably want to check this show out. Scheer and the cast will be at Comic-Con this weekend and will shoot a new scene for the show there.
WATCH the newest trailer below, via Adult Swim:
WATCH interviews with the cast on set: