The show, also known as the National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle::, is about a clandestine team of government agents working together to protect San Diego from numerous terrorist threats coming in daily from such evil countries as Mexico, Canada and Guam. The team are a group of highly trained operatives and has only one job: saving your ass so you can drive your Prius and see your movies in 3-D without worrying about living in a country run by no-good terrorists.
In the interview, Scheer and Romijin talk about production mishaps and give their advice to actors.
For the full interview, watch the video below or on YouTube
NTSF:SD:SUV airs at 12:15am on Thursdays on Adult Swim
How did you convince Adult Swim to give you money to do this? Because it does seem like it’s summer camp for you.
Rebecca Romijn: It feels like that actually. I mean, I guess based on Childrens Hospital, the success of Childrens Hospital, which is a similar format.
Paul Scheer: Yeah, I come from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. That’s how I kind of studied and trained. And there’s an energy there of like, well let’s get our friends together and do a show. And you’d be doing improv shows and sketch shows and you just bring in people that you like. And Adult Swim I think has really taken that mentality. They’re like, “Yeah. We trust you, write the show. Go do it.” They gave us 12 episodes last year so we can kind of find the show instead of doing a pilot. And we got to bring in all of our friends.
And so I think Adult Swim is sort of like… and, you know, there’s like… the money is not giant. It’s not like it’s a big risk. It’s like we’ve got funny people, go make funny stuff. We’re gonna stay out of the way. And if it works…
Rebecca Romijn: We shoot them in 20 days. 13 episodes in 20 days.
So obviously it wasn’t that difficult to get everybody to come back. Or did you know that there would be more than one season when you signed everybody on.
Paul Scheer: Well everyone, you know, we just cross our fingers that people are available. I mean, because everyone here is amazingly talented and super busy. So it’s sort of like, “Alright, we try to let people know. We think this is the 20 days, can you carve out this 20 days?”
And if no one’s shooting a TV show or anything we do it, and we’ve just… we’ve been lucky for these 2 seasons. I know it’ll run out at a certain point, but even the benefit of the show is even if people are busy, if they can even give us one or two days. Like last year, Rob Riggle only gave us one day. So we were able to pepper him throughout. This season he was much more available, so we got to use him more. So it’s, you know, it’s… that’s, you know, it’s the benefit and deficit of doing it like this.
But I’d rather it be like that because everyone gets to go do everything else too. No one’s bitter. It’s like, “Oh yeah…” everyone’s like, “Oh yeah, I can go do this for 20 days and do a TV show and…”
Rebecca Romijn: No, you are so accommodating with everybody’s schedules. Because it was happening during pilot season, so they were like, “Oh, I’ve got an audition this afternoon. Can you write me out of this afternoon so I can go and…?”
Paul Scheer: Yeah, we try just to make everybody… it should be a fun place to come to work and that’s the only reason to do it really.
How long does it take to write the whole season?
Paul Scheer: Yeah, it’s a slow process in the sense that we take it nice and slow. We start talking about ideas in October and then by, you know, December all the episodes are kind of locked in the version of something and then we kinda are writing right up until we go.
But we keep on learning, like we write stuff… we have a whole episode this season called Robot Town. And we realized once we had our first production meeting like, “You know we can only afford like one robot?” And we’re like, “Oh. Alright.” So then it’s about getting creative and I had to figure out how that one robot can be done again. So we used a lot of green screen and then… and we allude to it a lot. Yeah, so we try.
What’s your biggest production snafu you’ve ever had?
Paul Scheer: Oh yeah. No, yeah, no there’s plenty of them. Well a perfect example is this season we’re doing a Fast and Furious episode about a group of Swedish bikers who steal food.
Rebecca Romijn: I was about to mention that.
Paul Scheer: Oh yeah. And basically we had this whole Fast and Furious thing. We were gonna drive down the street and do all this sort of stuff. Couldn’t do it. And then we were like, “Alright well we’ve got a warehouse, let’s do it in the warehouse.” We lost the warehouse. And we’re like, “Alright, what can we do? We have no… we’re running out of money. Let’s make them do virtual reality.” And so we have… but it came out really good now that I’ve seen the virtual reality thing I’m like, “Oh, that’s a way better idea than actually a bicycle chase.” Because we couldn’t even afford more than one Pedicab. That was the other thing. We get one of everything we want.
Rebecca Romijn: It’s supposed to be a Swedish biker gang on Pedicabs.
Paul Scheer: They’re all supposed to be on Pedicabs and we can afford one.
Rebecca Romijn: When I saw that one sitting there I was like, “What’s that?”
Paul Scheer: And we redressed it. We redressed it for the bad guys and for ours. But we… virtual reality came out of that. Actually, I find that production limitations make us way more creative.
Rebecca Romijn: It’s an opportunity.
Paul Scheer: Yeah, you’re just like, “Let’s do it.” And there’s a fun sense of… our crew is really… there’s an episode where Jessie gets a friend in Ellie Kemper from the office. And we were able to bring in some of the Jesse LARPing things from last season and just kinda… you know, we just… I don’t know, we just try to make do with what we’ve got.
Are you guys ever afraid to go too over-the-top?
Rebecca Romijn: We have directors that tell us to take it down.
Paul Scheer: Yeah.
Rebecca Romijn: It’s a tough note to take. It happens all the time. It happens almost every single take. “Can you take that down a little bit? Less, smaller, smaller.”
Paul Scheer: We try to ground it, and I know it sounds ridiculous, we always like to picture it as if you were watching this show with the sound off, you’d be like, “Oh, this is one of those shows.” You know? So we try to… we walk that fine line.
I come from that school of comedy that believes that if it’s… the straighter it is, the funnier it will be because it’s like when you start winking at it, it becomes like sweaty. You know? So we try to… it’s like we’re playing it like we are in these shows. And what’s coming out of our mouth is weird. But the intent is the same.
What’s your advice to actors?
Rebecca Romijn: Take Fountain?
Paul Scheer: I always say the best thing you can do as an actor is find a group of people that you… Collaborate. Work with other people.
I think like sometimes being an actor is such an isolating thing. I’ve been very lucky to work with The Upright Citizens Brigade and we do so much stuff together as a group that I feel like… find a group of like-minded people. Make stuff. You have the ability to do whatever you want. Don’t wait for people to give you something. Because chances are the something you get, it’ll be shitty. So, you know, do… work with people, have fun, make your own opportunities.
Rebecca Romijn: Yeah, and take advantage of your own determination. Don’t give up.
Paul Scheer: Yes.
Rebecca Romijn: Keep moving forward, keep getting, you know, even if you have to do it for free, just keep playing.
Paul Scheer: Yeah, and if Fountain is backed up, take 6. 6 is actually a new secret one.