Between filming a comedy special aboard a Hollywood tour bus, appearing on ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat, and producing and directing for Party Over Here with The Lonely Island, Paul Scheer is a busy man. The 40-year-old comedian doesn’t mind keeping such a schedule — in fact, most comics don’t. However, what Scheer does mind is having to use up so much of his time fighting for the smallest jokes and the biggest sketches with standards and practices — the department housed at every major television network that oversees what is and isn’t allowed to air. In other words, the censors.
Fox’s department has been giving Scheer and his Party Over Here colleagues trouble since the sketch comedy series premiered on March 12. To explain the situation, he reached out to Uproxx to discuss the uphill battle he, the show’s three stars, and even top-tier Fox executives have been fighting to keep broadcasting. He even provided approved and banned versions of the same skit, “Ghost Trappers,” as an example of “how the sausage is made.”
I have to be honest — until I watched this clip, I hadn’t had a chance to watch Party Over Here. I’d heard of it, but I just haven’t watched a full episode yet.
Look, we’ve made this show simply knowing that sketch comedy isn’t tune-in TV worthy. People will tune in to watch American Crime Story or something like that, but I feel like sketch comedy is best watched at a computer, shared via Facebook and Twitter, and all that stuff. So, what we tried to do with the show was make it to be watched that way. Make it available. I want people to watch the show, of course, but we’re also making sure that every part of the show is available online. To Fox’s credit, they’re on board with that. I don’t know if I tuned in every week to watch Key & Peele, but I saw so much of their stuff online. I’d get into a whole, watch six sketches, go back to my day and do the same thing a week or two later. That’s the best way to watch sketch.
The version of “Ghost Trappers” that aired on television.
Rob Corddry said something similar about TV in general, but you’re talking about sketch specifically. Is it just because we’re watching so much online, or is there another reason we’re not tuning in for sketch comedy?
Everything is evolving constantly. You used to use a VCR to tape things, then there was Tivo and YouTube and all these other things. I think media is adapting, and to a certain extent these things are best served as a distraction. But in a good way. So, in the middle of the day, I decide to watch Inside Amy Schumer, Party Over Here or whatever while I’m eating lunch. I don’t have the time to sit down and watch an entire Walking Dead episode during my lunch break, but if I just want to zone out for a few minutes, sketch is a nice distraction. I like this kind of delivery system, and shows I grew up on — Mr. Show and The Ben Stiller Show — would have flourished with it, as well. Watch these things any which way you want, but tuning in at 11 o’clock on a Saturday night shouldn’t be the only way. Most people aren’t home for that.
Might this be part of the reason why you’re having so much trouble with standards and practices? That you’re crafting Party Over Here like an online show, with streaming’s fewer rules, but for broadcast?