As we look ahead to 2016’s cinematic offerings, it’s worth remembering that one (and probably more) of the big movies hitting multiplexes over the coming calendar year will inspire the age-old question: How did thisget made? Because even though most films start out with the best of intentions, things can go very wrong by the time they unspool for audiences. Over the course of the past five years, Paul Scheer and his co-hosts, June Diane Raphael (Scheer’s real-life spouse) and Jason Mantzoukas, have presided over 125 case studies of bad, baffling and outright bizarre movies via their acclaimed podcast, How Did This Get Made.
Launched in 2010, well before the podcasting boom, when the “airwaves” belonged mostly to the likes of Marc Maron, Kevin Smith and Tom Scharpling, each episode of HDTGM pits this triumvirate against high-profile flops (Toys, Jupiter Ascending), cult obscurities (Tiptoes,Sleepaway Camp) and, every now and then, movies that are, strangely — gasp! — good (Zardoz, the Fast and the Furious franchise). Drawing on their respective backgrounds as Upright Citizens Brigade-trained comics, Scheer, Raphael and Mantzoukas — who have busy acting careers when they’re away from the mic — keep the laughs flowing freely as they break down each movie, trying to answer the titular question. Yahoo Movies recently spoke with Scheer about celebrating five years of bad movie analysis, turning down the chance to interview Sylvester Stallone, and why he can’t watch Return of the Jedi anymore.
You premiered How Did This Get Made before podcasting really became a thing. What are your memories of those early years?
I’m a huge radio guy — I grew up listening to Howard Stern or Don Imus. In 2009, Scott Aukerman started doing Comedy Bang! Bang! on the radio and then moved into podcasting by founding Earwolf the following year. He asked if I had any ideas, and my first instinct was to do something heavily produced.
One night, June and I were at a party with Jason and we started talking about Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and how crazy that movie was. At the end of the conversation, Jason was like, “That’s a podcast.” So that’s kind of how we started! For the first few shows, I don’t think we knew what the listener numbers were —they weren’t even reported. I don’t think we even had ads in the beginning. I’ve been very lucky that I’ve gotten into these things early on; I got into UCB when it first started, when we didn’t even understand what we were doing. Now, there’s a waitlist to get into a class! Just like with podcasting; everyone has a podcast now, and there’s pressure to get an audience. We missed all that, which takes a lot of the pressure off.
By launching that early, you were also able to establish HDTGM as a personality-driven show. It feels like some of the more recent bad movie-related podcasts have had to come up with gimmick-driven hooks to grab listeners.
We weren’t trying to corner a market or anything — it was just a fun conversation. People have pointed out that we play the Id, Ego and Superego, and we fall into those roles quite naturally. We just have fun talking about this, and we want to make it feel like listeners are sitting down with a group of friends. Nobody’s ever going, “I think we need a June moment here, or a Jason moment here.” It’s just natural, so when we stumble on [a meme] like “What is a Street Fighter” or “What Is Its Mission,” it surprises us as much as it does the audience. And something we’ve found out over the past five years is that there are some people who only know us from the podcast. So we’ll sometimes see things online like, “Did you know Paul and June are married?” Or, “Did you know that Paul and Jason are on a TV show together?” [Scheer and Mantzoukas both appeared on the FXX series The League, which wrapped up its seven season run in December.] We just exist in the podcast world for that part of the audience.
One thing that has changed about the podcast in the past year or so is that you’ve been doing more live shows with an audience. That environment plays nicely into your respective backgrounds as comedy performers.
Yeah, the live shows have been really fun. We can feed off the energy and involve the audience. And it’s easier for us to make sure we’re recording in the same room, since know we have that date coming up. Jason says that it’s like doing a TV show. We show up, there’s an audience, we do a fun show and then we go home and move on to the next thing. Our live shows in New York last year were amazing. L.A. audiences are so polite, and in New York, people were mobbing for the mic when I went out into the crowd.
To me, the show is always evolving. Another big thing that’s changed are the mini-episodes, where I announce the next movie and do fan feedback. They started with a lower listenership, and now those numbers have climbed, because I’m putting more content into them, and people are actually listening now. They’ve become 30-minute episodes that I record in my bathroom! [Laughs]
In addition to HDTGM, you’re also now curating podcasts for Earwolf’s sister network, Wolfpop. I’ve been loving Denzel Washington is the Greatest Actor of All Time Period and I Was There Too in particular.
My goal with Wolfpop is to get people who are passionate about something. So with the Denzel show, [hosts] Kevin Avery and Kamau Bell legitimately love Denzel, and it was fun to give them a voice to talk about that. One of my favorite shows that I think is underrated is OMFG!, where two women in their 30s interview people who are 25-and-under about what’s cool. If you ever wanted to know the difference between people in their 30s and in their 20s, it’s vast!
You appeared on a memorable episode of I Was There Too and also had a fun, short-form Sly Stallone podcast for awhile.
The Sly Stallone show was only supposed to last four days, but I got so into doing it, it went on for a couple of weeks. The gimmick was that I was trying to interview Stallone, but he’d never show up. At one point, Stallone’s people actually called me up and said, “We got him for you — what do you want to use him for?” And I was like, “No, we don’t want him.” I turned down getting Sylvester Stallone on my podcast, because I was having too much fun not getting him! [Laughs]
Stallone is a fixture on HDTGM — you’ve already done six of his movies, including Cobra and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. There are so many more that would be great to break down.
He’s an interesting guy. I just saw Creed, and I was like, “He’s a f—ing great actor!” You’re crying when he’s doing a monologue. Schwarzenegger can’t pull that off.
I was surprised you didn’t program a Rocky V episode in anticipation of Creed. That’s the one entry in the Rocky franchise that everyone agrees kinda sucks.
I try to be smart about that. Like when The Force Awakens came out, we did the Star Wars Holiday Special, and I want to do Star Trek V when Star Trek Beyond comes out.
But it can be hard to quantify what makes a movie good for our show.Rocky V is kind of slog; I remember seeing it in theaters, and it’s not grossly bad. Over the years, we’ve found out that movies like that aren’t super-fun to talk about. So we try to find that weird middle ground with our picks.
Your acting careers have all gotten busier over the past five years. Do you foresee a time when you’ll have to put HDTGM on hiatus?
The thing I always say is that you do something until it becomes a burden. For now, we like doing it, and its fun. We have one new podcast idea that’s probably going to launch this year. It’s called, I Think That Was Good? The idea is that we go back and revisit movies we love from our childhood and ask ourselves, “Was that good?” Like, I remember watching Top Gun when I was a kid and thinking it was the best movie of all time. But I haven’t seen it in 15 years! For June, that movie is Anne of Green Gables and for Jason, it’s Ladyhawke.
That movie would be Labyrinth for me. Loved it at the time, but the bits I’ve seen of it as an adult have been near-unwatchable.
That’s the idea — re-examining movies from our youth we think are untouchable. The other day, I was telling June that I think we’re going to do Drop Dead Fred for HDTGM, but she was like, “That movie’s amazing!” So that might be one of the first episodes of I Think That Was Good? instead. I also think of things like Cloak & Dagger with Dabney Coleman and the kid from E.T. Or Return of the Jedi! As a kid, that movie was awesome to me. And I would never watch it now. [Laughs] Every scene with Harrison Ford in Jedi should just have a punch clock on the right side of the screen, so he can punch in, say his line, and punch out. The way he’s checked out of that movie is unbelievable. Seeing him inThe Force Awakens is to see him flustered in a good way.
Paul Scheer picks his five favorite ‘How Did This Get Made’ episodes from the show’s first five years:
1) Episode 80: Jack Frost (w/guest Dan Harmon): Whenever Dan Harmon gets on the microphone you know you are in store for a very passionate and opinionated rant. This was no exception. We broke down this 1998 Michael Keaton children’s film into a existential metaphor for fatherhood and single parenting and asked the question, “Isn’t Snow Dad better than No Dad?”
2) Episode 36: On the Line (w/guest Ike Barinholtz): The lack of chemistry between Lance Bass and Emmanuelle Chriqui in this N’Sync movie confounded us so much that we began referring to the two main characters simply as Turkey Sub and Hubcap. I don’t know how that happened, but it fit perfectly.
3) Episode 96: Monkey Shines: June’s POV is unlike any other person I’ve ever met, and this episode is where we really started to get an insight to what she’s thinking as she gives her passionate take on monkey rights in film and TV. It’s still issue elected officials refuse to address to this day.
4) Episode 32: 88 Minutes (w/guest Pete Holmes): I think this is definitely the biggest fan favorite episode. Come for the terrible Al Pacino impressions, stay for Pete’s infectious laughter at everything.
5) Episodes 9, 63 & 118: Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, Furious 7 (w/guest Adam Scott): The HDTGM Trilogy! Adam is one of our favorite guests and our mutual love and fascination for these films makes for the most epic discussions of aerodynamics, body sweat, and, of course, family. As long as they keep making these films we will be there!
Episode 48: Sleepaway Camp (w/guest Zack Pearlman): We spent 90 minutes trying to figure this movie out — and 20 of those 90 minutes were spent on the opening 2 minutes — and we’re still no closer to knowing anything. Seriously!