Tonight, Paul Scheer is back as shoot first, ask questions never Trent Hauser in NTSF:SD:SUV, which enters its second season on Adult Swim. Scheer created the show and also writes and produces it in between gigs working with fellow Human Giant star Rob Huebel, along with his regular part as the put-upon Andre in FX's The League.
We spoke to Scheer recently about heading into the second season, dream-casting for the show, and giving his co-stars more room to shine in the new episodes.
MTV Geek: First things first, who's a bigger jerk, your character Trent in NTSF or Andre from The League?
Paul Scheer: Oh wow, that's a tough question. I would say Trent is the bigger jerk by far. Andre, I don't think he knows that he's a jerk.
I don't think Andre is a jerk so much as he's the butt of a lot of jokes. He's a jerk in a different way. Trent Hauser's a jerk in a "Ha, that guy's a jerk" sort of way. Andre's more of a jerk in a [uses a sad inflection] "Man, that guy's a jerk."
It's really just the inflection you use to say "jerk."
Geek: So what's the key to writing a jerk like Trent while keeping him fun and someone that viewers want to stick with each week?
Scheer: Kiefer Sutherland is a crazy jerk on 24, but you love him because he gets the job done. And I think that that goes for a lot of action stars, I mean Steven Segal is a jerk but you want to watch him because eventually, he's a jerk who can beat up bad people. So I think that as long as a jerk is beating up bad people in the end, you'll get behind him.
For me, the fun thing with Trent when you write him is making him so out of touch. I think this season we'll reveal that he's never seen a movie and he hates books. It's just sort of fun to kind of push this guy in different directions who doesn't do anything but work.
Geek: Between acting, producing, and writing NTSF, it seems like all you do is work. How is it maintaining that balance of responsibilities on the show?
Scheer: You know, I love working on these Adult Swim shows because it's intense, but it's like going to work on their shows is one of the most fun things that I've done. And the same goes for when I worked on Human Giant because you are at every level involved and there's always something to be done.
Right before I got on the phone with you, I was looking at music cues for an upcoming episode, and I just got off the phone before that doing ADR, then we're writing an informercial that's going to come out later.*
I think when you're able to create something from start to finish, it's like having a kid, for lack of a better example. It gets overwhelming at points, but what we try to do is get all of the writing done first, and then we're shooting, and then we do post. So you're working for a long time but the focus of it keeps on switching and it doesn't get boring.
Geek: After doing this for a season, do you feel like you guys have the process down pat or are you still figuring it out?
Scheer: Second seasons are always way better and more fun--at least for the writing process what we wanted to do. For the first season, we had a full series and we didn't even have a pilot to base anything on. So we were kind of finding it in the writing.
The benefit of this show is that we write our 12 or 13 episodes and then we shoot them all together. So it's not like we spend one week on one episode or one week on the next--in a given day, we'll be shooting pieces of three or four episodes.
I think the second season was good because we knew the characters and we definitely knew how we wanted to approach the second season. For us, the first season was just based in solid procedural parody. In this season we want to break it out a little bit more. We want to enjoy the characters a little bit more because we didn't want to get into a rut. So that was kind of fun, to find new things in the characters.
And you get a system in place. It gets easier and easier with time.
Geek: What kind of guidance or feedback did you receive from Adult Swim between seasons? Speaking to other show creators in the past, I understand that they're very hands-on with trying to tweak the formula for a series to get just the right balance.
Scheer: Mike Lazzo, who's the head of Adult Swim, is very hands-on in a great way. He gives notes on all our scripts and we had a talk about the beginning of the season about what he wants to see more of and it lined up exactly with what we wanted to do, which was really just [exploring] this ensemble.
Because we have so many great people--Rebecca (Romijn), Martin (Starr), June (Raphael), Brandon (Johnson)--what we did this year was each character has an episode, at least one. Brandon goes to Alaska to kind of make amends with his father, there's an episode where Martin's character Sam is in the Trent role and Trent's in the Sam role, Rebecca's character goes undercover, June's character get married. [It] switches focus from being Trent-centric, and I like it in a way. It really gives everyone a lot to do.
Geek: And I have to imagine it's liberating to pass some of this along to the other actors and let them find their characters' voices in the show.
Scheer: Yeah, exactly.
I would say that the show is created in three different vacuums, almost: when you're writing the show, you're learning about it; when you're shooting the show, you're learning even more about it; and then when you're editing the show, you're really learning about it. [And] you're always writing and redeveloping.
After we finished the first season, we had learned so much about what we think works with each one of the characters. So it was really great to find the things that we liked in the first season and go "More of that, more of that, more of that."
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