Let’s get this out of the way: Fox’s Party Over Here might draw comparisons to Saturday Night Live given that it’s a sketch comedy airing Saturday nights, but it’s not trying to replace its NBC relative.
“No one compares Inside Amy Schumer to SNL, no one compares Key and Peele to SNL. They’re just sketch shows. Yes, we happen to be on Saturday night, but we’re competing on a different turf,” executive producer Paul Scheer tells EW. “We’re doing a different vibe. We’re not going to do sketches about the Bernie Sanders debate last night or about a movie that came out last weekend. We’re staying away from topicality. We’re just doing a funny sketch show.”
And they’re doing it a bit differently, too. Party Over Here, also executive-produced by The Lonely Island, forgoes a large ensemble or single star in favor of a leading trio made up of Girl Code’s Nicole Byer, Riot’s Jessica McKenna, and former SNL writer Alison Rich. Together, they appear in both pre-taped pieces and live sketches that ditch the fourth wall.
“We thought, can we make a sketch comedy show that feels like a concert film?” Scheer says of the live bits, which feature audience participation. “You’re there, this happened, this is big. Some moments are unscripted, and we’re catching all of that.”
Scheer and The Lonely Island guys are all used to being in front of the camera, but they chose to stay behind it for most of first season save for a handful of cameos. “I was even reticent to do two [cameos] because I really want the show to be about this ensemble,” Scheer, who plays Bachelorette host Chris Harrison in a future sketch, says. “We didn’t want to stunt-cast. We didn’t want it to be like, tune in to see Ariana Grande in this sketch! We wanted to be like, tune in to watch Nicole and Jess and Alison.”
And that shouldn’t be a hard sell: “These three comedians are some of the funniest people out there,” Scheer says. “I think I have a little bit of a snobby comedy taste, so I can say, unequivocally, not being a writer and not being an actor on this show, this is a show that I would watch.”
Watch a clip from the series below, and see Party Over Here’s premiere when it airs Saturday at 11 p.m. ET on Fox.