'The League's' Paul Scheer on How Lack of Sleep Led to Some of His Weirdest Sketches [Van Winkle's]
Paul Scheer might be the busiest man in Hollywood. Between his starring roles on “Fresh Off the Boat” and “The Hotwives of Orlando”, his wildly popular podcast How Did This Get Made? and regular guest appearances on film and TV, “The League” alumnus has plenty to wake up for —not to mention his two year-old son.
Scheer is currently gearing up for Saturday’s premiere of “Party Over Here”, the Fox sketch show he’s producing with the Lonely Island. He’s also co-producing “The Amazing Gayl Pile”, a scripted series for NBC’s new comedy platform Seeso, starring in the Vine series White Ninja and he and his wife, actress and comedian, June Diane Raphael are expecting another child. So much for sleep.
In his own words, here’s Scheer on sleep-deprived improv shows, Doritos tacos and how Howard Stern turned him on to transcendental meditation.
Ideally I'd love to sleep eight hours a night. I have no idea when I did that last. My perfect sleep schedule would be going to bed at 2 a.m. and getting up around 10 a.m. That’s perfect for my personality. However, since having a kid, 6 a.m. is the latest I'm sleeping in. My entire sleep schedule has been flipped upside down. I'm now a morning person by default and I kinda like it.
My general rule is that I need to be asleep by 11 p.m. to be functional. However I do some late shows at the UCB Theater in LA (Monday at 11 p.m. and Wednesday at 930 p.m.) every week and those mornings suck ass. Basically on those mornings I'm a terrible parent until 6:45.
It was amazingly fun but by hour 22 we were doing the weirdest bits, like "Borat Army" — basically making our entire crew dress as Borat and march around the stage saying, "my wife!"
My bedtime habits are often deciding on a perfect movie to watch, spending at least 15-30 minutes on that decision then falling asleep during the first ten minutes. I’ve watched the first ten minutes of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” like fifteen times. I also love to read in bed, but that’s like being shot by a blow dart. I'm just out instantly. Basically once I lie in bed, I'm asleep. It's a weird Pavlovian reaction.
I do a lot of late nights and 24-plus-hour days. Human Giant once hosted a 24-hour televised marathon on MTV and none of us slept the entire time. It was amazingly fun but by Hour 22 we were doing the weirdest bits, like "Borat Army" — basically making our entire crew dress as Borat and march around the stage saying, "my wife!"
I’ve done the Del Close Marathon at UCB for I think twelve years straight. Every time that comes along, I probably sleep only six of the festival’s 72 hours. That led to such crazy improv shows as Andrew Dice Improv, which was just people doing Dice Clay doing Level 1 improv scenes, and “To Catch A Predator” improv, which was 30 minutes of people improvising as pedophiles. I played Chris Hansen in that one.
I think 36 hours straight has been my record. I'm surprisingly alert. But when I'm really burning the midnight oil, I reward myself with the worst treats I can find. I once ordered six Doritos Tacos from Taco Bell and some Dr Pepper. I'm like, “If my body is up this late, I'll at least treat it to some garbage food as a reward for not failing me.”
“When I'm really burning the midnight oil, I reward myself with the worst treats I can find. I once ordered six Doritos Tacos from Taco Bell and some Dr Pepper.”
I'm a big Howard Stern fan. I've been listening since high school, and he always casually mentioned that he practiced Transcendental Meditation. The way he spoke about seemed to make it something that was accessible to a regular person. But it was hard to find lessons and when I did it was these weird big groups. That felt weird — like maybe it was a cult. It's not. So a few years ago my wife got us some private lessons with the Lynch Foundation and it really was amazing and fun. We learned so much quickly and really it's just nice to take time for yourself when we live in a world that is full of distractions.
I always have the actor's dream where I'm on stage and don't know my lines, but that's boring and cliche.The other dream I have a lot is that I'm chewing gum and I'm trying to spit it out, but I can't get it out of my mouth. I try to pull it out of my mouth but it just keeps going and going and it feels like I can't breath, and the gum keeps getting bigger in my mouth and I feel like I'm suffocating. Ugh — even writing that gives me bad vibes
The other dream I have a lot is that I'm chewing gum and I'm trying to spit it out, but I can't get it out of my mouth.
I love being a dad. It's the best. But there is no adjustment. It's like jumping into a cold pool or watching “The Wire”. It's not super fun at first but then you warm up to it and really look forward to it. Keeping kids in bed? God knows. The only thing I know about parenting is don't give parenting advice.
My bedside table is a mess. Currently it's full of some Ed Brubaker comics; four soft-cover and three hardcover books; a nightlight; an alarm clock; a NTSF pint glass full of water. A candle. A box of tissues. A mini legal pad. A pencil, pen and Sharpie. Plus a health crystal that was given to me by a friend. My glasses, my lamp and my Kindle and that's just the top. Below, there are more books.