Parental Advisory Spoiler Alert

Oct 27, 2017
Originally published on April 20, 2018 9:36 am

Actor and comedian Paul Scheer maintains an incredibly high standard for the roles he accepts — even when he doesn't have any idea who he's playing. Known for his work with the sketch comedy team Human Giant and his role on the FX sitcom The League, Scheer also co-hosts the podcast How Did This Get Made?, which celebrates (and eviscerates) some of the worst movies ever made. He recently had a recurring role on HBO's VEEP, one of his very favorite shows, and he spoke to host Ophira Eisenberg about the air of mystery that surrounds such a spoiler-free series. "I got a call from the showrunner Dave Mandel," Scheer recalled. "He said, 'Here's the deal: I can't tell you who you're playing and you don't have a name. Just come to set and we'll figure it out.'"

Scheer got his start as an improviser at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and inadvertently inspired his Ask Me Another opponent to become a comedian herself. D'Arcy Carden fell in love with improv after seeing Scheer perform at UCB. "I sat in the front row and it really was one of those moments where I was like, 'I see God!'" she said. "I just was like, 'This is what I want to do.'" After mastering the L.A. improv scene, Carden began a successful screen-acting career, making appearances on Broad City and in the film Other People. Carden currently stars on the NBC sitcom The Good Place as Janet, a Siri-like concierge. She told Eisenberg about the new affinity she feels for tech tools like Siri and Alexa, and how it can ruin her social life. "The host of [this] party sort of yelled at Alexa," Carden said, "in a way that was so upsetting to me. It really...deeply affected me."

Our first two Famepocalypse celebri-testants faced off in a radio-friendly cinematic challenge, naming films from the MPAA's explanation for their ratings.

Heard On Los Angeles: Famepocalypse Part One


Paul Scheer On The Downside Of Appearing On VEEP

People will come up to me like, "Wow, you're really, like, a real a-hole on that show."

D'Arcy Carden On Technological Ethics

I think part of the Alexa or Siri thing should be you have to say 'please' in order to get her to do what you want.

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JONATHAN COULTON: From NPR and WNYC, coming to you from The Theater at ACE Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, it's NPR's hour of puzzles, word games and trivia, ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Jonathan Coulton. Now here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.



Thank you, Jonathan. We are so excited to be here in Los Angeles for a special celebrity edition of ASK ME ANOTHER. Four famous contestants are here to play our nerdy games - D'Arcy Carden, Brett Gelman, Missi Pyle and Paul Scheer. But only one will win a prize more coveted than a Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Award, and that is an ASK ME ANOTHER Rubik's Cube. And to top it off, our special musical guest is Aimee Mann.


EISENBERG: I love coming to Los Angeles. And now I even love it more because it is the future home of the Olympic Games.


EISENBERG: Yeah. I love the optimism of this place because you guys actually think there will still be a Los Angeles in 2028, yeah. But then again, it's Hollywood, right? Maybe we can just fake the whole thing on a sound stage on the moon. Let's meet our first two celebri-testants. First, you know him from "Human Giant," "The League," "Veep" and he has a podcast called How Did This Get Made? Please welcome Paul Scheer.


PAUL SCHEER: Thank you so much.

EISENBERG: Paul, you played Stevie, a TV producer on the HBO series "Veep." I feel like working on "Veep" would be incredible, a comedic dream come true. But I don't know. Tell me your thoughts.

SCHEER: No, it was an amazing show. One of the best parts of that show, though, was I got a call from the showrunner, Dave Mandel, who worked on "Seinfeld" and "Curb" and all these great shows and he said, here's the deal. I can't tell you who you're playing, and you don't have a name. Just come to set and we'll figure it out. And I said, great. But I think the one thing is, like, people will come up to me like, wow, you're really, like, a real A-hole on that show.

EISENBERG: Yeah (laughter).

SCHEER: And I'm like, I don't think so. But I think everyone is so nasty that I didn't even realize. By levels, I'm pretty much on the same level. We're all (unintelligible)...

EISENBERG: Oh, my - yeah. There's no way - like, yeah, for someone to say, wow, you're a real A-hole on the show is like either they don't understand the show...


EISENBERG: ...Or they really think that you're doing, like, a really top A-hole job. I mean...

SCHEER: Yeah. I should take it.

EISENBERG: ...That's amazing.

SCHEER: That's a feather in my butt, my A-hole.

EISENBERG: That's fantastic.

CARDEN: Your A-hole.


EISENBERG: Let's meet your opponent.


EISENBERG: You know her from "Broad City" and the movie "Other People." She currently stars as Janet in "The Good Place." Please welcome D'Arcy Carden.


EISENBERG: D'Arcy, so you play Janet on "The Good Place." So Janet is part robot, part human. Is that fair?

CARDEN: That's an easy - I think that's fair.

EISENBERG: Like Alexa and Siri but human form.

CARDEN: I think that's a good way of explaining it.

EISENBERG: OK, so I'm just wondering, as an actor approaching that role, obviously you don't have any half-human, half-robot influences...

CARDEN: Right.

SCHEER: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: ...So how do you decide - where do you find that performance or how do you create that?

CARDEN: I think when I got into it, I thought it would be simpler than it was. One time I was at a party, and I had never experienced Alexa before, if you guys know Alexa.


CARDEN: And somebody ordered...

SCHEER: By the way, you've just turned on everyone's Alexas...

CARDEN: I know.

SCHEER: ...All across the country.


CARDEN: But the host of the party sort of yelled at Alexa, like, turn off the lights and turn the music in a way that was, like, so upsetting to me. But it really kind of, like, deeply affected me. And her response was so positive and lovely, and I was like, that's Janet. I think part of the Alexa or Siri thing should be you have to say please in order to get her to do what you want.

SCHEER: I like it.


SCHEER: It should be please, not just her name, Alexa.

CARDEN: I know. It's - the first time you should have to say please and then you're allowed to scream at her.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) That's right. Once you establish a loving relationship...

CARDEN: Right.

EISENBERG: ...Then you can just go.

CARDEN: Right.

EISENBERG: OK, D'Arcy and Paul, this is a star-studded show, as you know.

CARDEN: So many stars.

EISENBERG: And so we're doing things a little bit differently.


EISENBERG: You're going to play three games against each other, and whoever gets the most points overall will move on to the final round. It's going to be great. Let's go to your first game. It's a trivia game called Parental Advisory Spoiler Alert. We're going to ask you to guess a film based on the MPAA's written explanation for its rating. Buzz in to answer. Here we go, your first one. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet star in this 1997 film rated PG-13 for quote, "disaster-related peril, violence, nudity, sensuality and brief language."



SCHEER: "Titanic."

EISENBERG: That is correct, yes.


CARDEN: But I also knew that.

SCHEER: Yeah, of course.

COULTON: This 2010 Tim Burton film was rated PG for quote, "fantasy action, violence involving scary images and situations and for a smoking caterpillar."



CARDEN: "Alice In Wonderland."

COULTON: That's right.


CARDEN: I'm sure you knew that.

EISENBERG: In 2016, the third installment of this animated children's film franchise was rated PG for quote, "martial arts action and some mild rude humor."



SCHEER: It's wrong, but I'll say "Cars 3."

EISENBERG: Interesting.

COULTON: (Laughter) "Cars 3."

EISENBERG: Good. That was - yeah.

SCHEER: I knew it was wrong 'cause the martial arts, but I just wanted...


SCHEER: I wanted to say "Cars 3."


EISENBERG: "Cars 3."

CARDEN: What was the - am I allowed - what was the year?

EISENBERG: Yeah, you can steal, D'Arcy.

SCHEER: Two thousand sixteen.

CARDEN: Sixteen.

EISENBERG: It's OK, just say whatever you've got.

CARDEN: What I'm thinking is "Lego Movie," which, of course, is wrong. But I said it.

EISENBERG: Good ideas, both of you.

CARDEN: Thank you.

EISENBERG: We were looking for "Kung Fu Panda 3."


CARDEN: Doy (ph). So doy (ph).


CARDEN: Which I know you guys watch those all the time, right?

SCHEER: I love the...

CARDEN: Actually, I do...

SCHEER: I was in one.

CARDEN: Is that true?


CARDEN: You're...


CARDEN: You should be fired.


EISENBERG: Which one?

CARDEN: You should have them give your money back.

SCHEER: In the "Kung Fu Panda" Christmas movie, I played the voice of Victor Garber, who was not asked to do the Christmas movie.

CARDEN: Do you do a Victor Garber impression?



SCHEER: I just did my own voice.


EISENBERG: In 2004, this animated sequel was rated PG for quote, "some crude humor, some suggestive content and a brief substance reference for a scene where knights arrest Puss in Boots and find catnip on him."



SCHEER: "Shrek 2."

EISENBERG: That is correct.

CARDEN: Oh, Paul, that's really good. That's good.

COULTON: This is your last clue.

CARDEN: Son of a...


COULTON: Plenty of time.

SCHEER: All right...

CARDEN: All right.

SCHEER: ...Plenty of time.

COULTON: Still plenty of time to (unintelligible).

SCHEER: I'm nervous. I'm nervous.

COULTON: Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton team up in this 1996 film rated PG-13 for its, quote, "intense depiction of very bad weather."



SCHEER: "Twister."

COULTON: "Twister" is correct.


SCHEER: Did you know it?

CARDEN: You know I knew it.

SCHEER: You knew I knew you knew it.

CARDEN: You know I knew it.

EISENBERG: All right, puzzle guru Art Chung, how did our contestants do?

ART CHUNG: After the first game, Paul is in the lead.

CARDEN: Oh, really?

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