Sam Richardson And Ben Schwartz On ‘The Afterparty’ And Karaokeing Disney Songs

The Afterparty delivers gifts on gifts on gifts of comic goodness thanks to its amazing ensemble and Clue: The Next Generation vibes, but none may be more enduring than the experience of seeing Sam Richardson and Ben Schwartz and team up as reunited friends at a high school reunion gone way way wrong. Playing off each other throughout the murder mystery series from Apple TV+ (which premieres with 3 episodes on Friday before going weekly), the two demonstrate a supernatural kind of shorthand that we desperately hope will see the light of day again in future seasons and/or in other projects.

This is the birth of a new comedy super duo. I say this as someone who binged the first half of the series and as someone who had the unique pleasure of talking with the pair ahead of the premiere. Dear reader, it was the good chaos as we riffed on their love of the murder mystery genre, the craft behind their on-screen rap duet, karaoke go-tos and big mistakes, why you shouldn’t fuck with them when it comes to Disney songs, and the Old Testament. We took a little journey. Dive in.

You guys have off-the-charts chemistry. Is that just pure talent, do you have a long relationship?

Ben Schwartz: We had never met before. I had tried to do a show with Sam, but he was busy, but I’ve always thought Sam was a genius and smart, because I think he’s genuine and his acting is hilarious and really, really warm. And we had never met when… We didn’t even get to the table read together. So the first time I think we probably met each other in person was the first day of shooting, but it was ajn immediate friendship, immediate connection, and I felt I had been friends with him since high school. And because we have improv backgrounds and we spent so much time doing sketch and improv, our shorthand was already there and bits that would take people weeks to do, we were doing after two seconds and just making each other crack up.

Sam Richardson: Destined to be friends. And we are now.

I got vibes of Clue. I got vibes of Only Murders In The Building. I got so many good vibes off this. What’s your level of love and affection for the murder mystery genre?

Richardson: I mean, I absolutely love a murder mystery. I love riddles, I love puzzles, I love sort of anything that I have to figure out like a cat and a cat toy where you have to like get the treats out of it, I’m the same. I’m rewarded by answering these things right. So it was incredible to be a part of one like this, and one that’s so unique and just a new take on that genre. I’m over the moon.

Schwartz: Same with me. I love Sherlock stuff. I also loved Colombo when I was a kid. So like all that stuff. I love trying to figure it out before they tell me. I love trying to figure it out before I’m told. I thought Knives Out was so good too. If we’re talking about new references, but Clue is, I mean, Clue in terms of classic films is one of the best. So the fact that we’re playing with the genre and kind of twisting it on its head a little bit by playing with different genres within the genre of who done it… heaven. And there’s nobody better in the universe than Lord and Miller to do that. They’re geniuses.

Richardson: Yeah, truly.

Any experience with your own high school reunions? Can famous people do that, or is it just unfair?

Schwartz: Is it unfair? [Laughs]

Yeah, it’s unfair. You roll in fresh from the set, no big deal.

Richardson: [Laughs] And you just automatically win? I don’t know. I haven’t [been], but I’ve always wanted to, ever since I saw the movie Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion. I just never got to do it.

Schwartz: I did one, five years after we graduated, but there was nothing to brag about. I was doing comedy. I didn’t have any money. I was still eating Wendy’s, you know what I mean? Because there’s a meal that you could get for a dollar… also pizza in New York, you could learn how to get a slice, but put all the free stuff on top of it. I would get really good at that stuff. Like a lot of red pepper and parmesan.

That’s protein right there.

Schwartz: That’s exactly correct.

There’s a great yearbook photo scene in the show. Can you guys show me what the yearbook photo pose was for you guys back in the day?

Schwartz: It’s easy. Here it is.

Richardson and Schwartz yearbook pose

Perfect. Did you guys go with the laser theme or anything?

Richardson: Oh, I wish. No, I didn’t. I don’t think it was even an option for mine.

Schwartz: We didn’t have options either.

This was more musical than I anticipated — specifically in the episode focused on your character, Ben. How did that rap come to be? That Sorkin line killed me.

Schwartz: That Sorkin line is a Sam Richardson beautiful line. Just gorgeous.

Was that pre-planned?

Richardson: Oh, pre-planned.

Schwartz: Any time we sang anything, it was recorded in a booth beforehand and an engineer who’s more brilliant than us and a woman named Feora Cutler helped us with our vocals. And then when you see us on stage Cat Burns is doing all the choreography. And we had like this gorgeous team, wonderful, wonderful, talented team behind us. But that rap song was so fun because I love hip-hop and R&B and I love rap. And the idea that we could actually, they shot it like an actual rap video. And when they showed us a playback of what we were doing, I was like, “Oh my God, we’re doing it. We’re in a rap video.” I mean, our version of a rap video. But the words were already locked. It was probably the only thing that was truly locked.

What are your karaoke go-to’s?

Richardson: “I Would Do Anything For Love” and “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing,” by Aerosmith.

Schwartz: Ooh.

Are you giving all your focus to the song or are you acting it out?

Richardson: I mean, “Anything For Love,” you got to get into that one and you got to at least be on your feet for, “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing.”

Schwartz: I do the audiobook of the Bible. That’s my karaoke. [Laughs]

Old Testament or New?

Schwartz: Old Testament. What are you talking about, man? Schwartz! Old Testament, babyyyyy! [Laughs] But I haven’t done karaoke very often. One time I did it, I did “New York State Of Mind,” and I was like, this would be great. Cause I’m from New York. And I know that song, Billy Joel and I started singing and then it was like seven minutes long.

Richardson: [Laughs] It is a long one.

Schwartz: You’re so embarrassed after a while. It’s so long. And I’m like, God, still? We’re still singing this song? [Laughs]

I did “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” the first time I did karaoke. Same issue.

Schwartz: Oh, that’s a huge mistake. Oof. That’s a rock opera.

Richardson: It sure is. Me and [Adam] Pally do that song in Champaign ILL. And we had to like sing-along to that song like a hundred times and it’s long.

[Richardson and Schwartz break into song for a few seconds]

That’s the second time anyone’s sang during an interview. I interviewed Justin Theroux once and he started singing Disney songs with Tessa Thompson in the room.

Schwartz: You don’t want to fuck with us and Disney songs.

Richardson: We used to play this game in the car where Ben would play songs from his mix, his Disney mix, and see how quickly I could identify them.

Schwartz: How many notes. And it would be songs from movies, from like the original Jungle Book all the way to… It would be how long until Sam could do it. And Sam was so quick. It made me so proud.

Give me the top three. What are the top three Disney songs? What’s the ranking.

Richarson: You can’t.

Schwartz: You can’t! What are you doing? You can’t. That’s three out of hundreds!?

Come on. What do you got? Put your name behind it.

Richardson: I will. I will. Like some of these aren’t hits. Some of these aren’t popular but they’re brilliant. “Every Little Piece” from Pete’s Dragon.

Schwartz: I’m getting in there. Oh, by the way, “Everybody Wants To Be A Cat…” Great song. Great, great song. Take away the un-pc things in that song, there’s a section where cats… take that away. “Bear Necessities.” I mean, that’s got to be top… that’s tops.

Richardson: That’s tops. I’m going to go a little bit more modern. “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You,” which is not very modern. That’s like maybe 20 something years old, but Donny Osmond singing “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You” from Mulan? Terrific.

Schwartz: “Be Our Guest.” Unbelievable. “Under The Sea.” See, this is the problem because when you get into the nineties, we’re not even talking about Disney television shows because then you’re screwed. We have Ducktales, Rescue Rangers, Gummi Bears.

Richardson: Dark Wing Duck. These theme songs alone…

Schwartz: Dark Wing Duck‘s is perfect.

If we hum a bar from Gummi Bears, we’ll all be fucking infected with that for five days.

Richardson: Dashing and daring, courageous and caring, faithful and friendly…

I’m going to go Oliver And Company – “Why Should I Worry.”

Schwartz: Very interesting.

Richardson: “Why Should I Worry!” Going back to Billy Joel.

I saw Billy Joel live a few years ago. I got so pissed he didn’t sing that song.

Schwartz: You saw him at MSG?

I saw him in Philly at like Lincoln whatever the hell it is. I never know these stadium bank names. Crypto whatever. Unless you guys want to do a crypto commercial right now. That seems to be on-trend. Feel free.

Schwartz: Well Sam and I are releasing a set of NFTs where it’s us hugging. You can get them. There are different ones — there’s zombie us hugging, there are cats.

Richardson: There’s us hugging zombies. Yeah. We’re trying to work on a Disney collab for an NFT. They won’t do it, but we wanted to do like Gummi Bear-y hugs. It’s a work in progress. They’re getting back to us.

Schwartz: They’re getting back to us.

Richardson: It’s not a no, but it’s a long yes, I think.

‘The Afterparty’ premieres on Apple TV+ with the first three episodes on 1/28 with weekly drops after that.