The gang returns for another round of Fantasy Football tonight, October 6th, only on FX
The League returns for Season 3 tonight, October 6th, with the hilarious new episode Lockout. And as is true of any sport, there are some winners and some losers when it comes to the guys and gals that make up this terrific ensemble of iconic modern day characters. To celebrate the anxiously awaited return of The League, we talked with three of the show's big losers.
Jason Mantzoukas plays Rafi, aka El BroLo El Cunado, and though he is beloved by The League's legion of hardcore followers, he is less favored by those he believes to be his best friends. In tonight's episode, he will team up with Dirty Randy (Seth Rogen) to shoot a porno in loser Andre's (Paul Scheer) apartment. Andre is just coming off of his Sacko win, for arriving in last place in last year's Fantasy League tournament. After several months of abuse by the rest of the team, he gets his final punishment tonight. Then, there is Kevin (Stephen Rannazzisi). His wife has gotten a job, leaving him with the responsibilities of running a one-child household, she has joined the league and no longer serves as his consultant, and she refuses to give him the second child that he wants, bringing a dog into their relationship instead.
Here is our conversation with the Losers of The League.
Jason Mantzoukas is Rafi (aka El BroLo El Cunado)
There was a little bit of skepticism on whether or not you'd be returning to the series, but you've really become the Fonzie of The League. You're certainly my favorite character. Was it an outpouring of love from the fans that saw you returning for Season 3?
Jason Mantzoukas: There was an element where I was a guest star. Those episodes went over really well. Fans loved that character. It was a blast. So, they were like, "Hey, if you have the time, we'd love to have you back." Not being a regular part of the show, I wasn't contractually obligated to come back. But I was thrilled. There is nothing more fun than playing the fucking craziest person in the world.
Where did this behavior come from. You take a beer out of someone's hand and start drinking it as your own. That is just the cherry on top of your nutty antics. You are reprehensible, but so lovable...
Jason Mantzoukas: Oh, man, that was all improvised stuff. The show that the Schaffers write is an unscripted story. We get seven pages of story. Then, we improvise all of the dialogue. When they approached me to play this guy, I said I want to play someone that is all Id. Every appetite, he satiates. Everything he wants to do, he does. That evolved into, if I see someone's beer, I am going to take their beer. If I see someone's girl, I am going to take his girl. I will attack everything...
You ended up having sex with one of the cast members last season...
Is that relationship, or that particular course of behavior going to come back into play this season? How down and dirty is this dude Rafi going to get?
Jason Mantzoukas: I'm not sure. I can't say. Only because I haven't seen all of the outlines for all of the episodes. I will say that Rafi does have sex, this season, again...
Do the guys have more of an acceptance of Rafi? Or are they growing more afraid of what wrath he may bring to their collective friendship?
Jason Mantzoukas: I don't think the guys will ever accept Rafi. Not in a way that Rafi would be happy with. In a way, I think Rafi thinks they are all best friends. These are people that hate him. What I can tell you? There is some really solid, crazy fucking shit that involves the guys using Rafi to create chaos when they need chaos.
Was there any stress involved with getting this season jump started? I know the NFL strike pushed the season start date a little bit. Then you guys really slammed through these episodes. Its amazing how fast you shot this first one...
Jason Mantzoukas: It didn't affect me. It helped me, because I was shooting a movie until about a week ago. I would have been a lot less available. I think it helped me out. I don't know how much things were affected, because I was never brought up to speed on how the original schedule was supposed to be. I got dates, I could make them. I was like, "Great!"
How much can you tell me about this movie you've been off shooting?
Right, the Dictator. Can you let us in on who you will be playing in the movie? We have seen a lot of the shooting coming out of New York...
Jason Mantzoukas: Yes, I was there for most of that shooting. Not the scooter or the camel, but I was there for a lot of other stuff. Based on what we shot, I think its going to be pretty fucking funny. Really. Again, Jeff Schaffer, who created The League, is one of the writers on The Dictator. There is a lot of crazy, funny stuff. There is a lot of improvising. Sacha, obviously, having so much experience crafting a character, engaging in it, and staying with it ferociously...That was a blast to do things with.
The fans are a little bit in the dark about the movie. Its not so much a documentary-style film as the last two, right? But it will retain some of those elements, where he is interacting with non-actors that don't know he is in character?
Jason Mantzoukas: I can't say. I don't think so. I am only cautious, because no one has told me exclusively, "Yes, you can say this...Or no, you can't say this..." Its always best not to say anything.
Do you have any favorite scenes from the League Season 3, that you've already shot, that you are especially excited for fans to see?
Jason Mantzoukas: Did you know that Dirty Randy makes an appearance this season? He is played by Seth Rogen. So he's Rafi's partner in crime...Basically, Rafi has another Rafi, and it's Seth Rogen. There is some pretty fucked up stuff that happens between them and the rest of the group.
Stephen Rannazzisi is Kevin
Did the recent NFL strike not affect you guys at all? I know there was talk about moving forward on the show even without the backdrop of the Fantasy Football league, but after it was resolved, you came in and shot this first episode so quickly...
Stephen Rannazzisi: We had a plan. This is what I was told. This is the way we were functioning. We had a plan A and a plan B. We were going to try and wait as long as we could to see what was happening with football. We got a sense, in the wind, that this was all going to be settled. So we really ran with that, going under the assumption that we would address the lock out. We would have a lot of stories that didn't involve football. This was a best cast scenario for the show this year, because we have so many episodes that don't involve football. Now, we can pepper in the football, adding to the comedy, just to keep it to what the show is about. But, listen, we were ready to move forward without football.
Do you think some of the hardcore fans will be disappointed that it doesn't focus so much on the sport? I know you have a lot of fans that aren't into football, or these fantasy leagues. It really is a show that works solely on the promise of these individual characters and their relationships with one another...Maybe it is a better thing for Season 3?
Stephen Rannazzisi: I think it is 50/50. Because I have so many people coming up to me, saying, "I don't watch football!" Or, "My husband watches football, and I don't, but we both love the show!" I think the comedy there, with the relationships, and how they interact, and talk to their wives, and girlfriends...That's what resonates with the everyday fan. But those guys that play Fantasy Football? They love it. They always come up to me too, going, "Oh, look at this player!" Or, "Look at that player!" They look at me as an expert, which I am not. I have played for a long time, but I stink. I have never made the playoffs. I always think I am better than I am.
Does that true nature seep into Kevin? And into the show?
Stephen Rannazzisi: Not so much on-camera. But off-camera? I'll always say, "He's not going to have such a great year!" When we talk about the players, and how they pertain to the show. The rest of the guys will look at me, "What do you know? You stink!" I'm not an expert. And people on the show never look at me as an expert. But people in real life do. I'll make up information. I mean, I know the names. They'll ask me, "Who would you pick, this guy or that guy?" I pick one, and then I ignore the hate mail. I just don't read it.
How is the marriage this year? Last year there was a lot of tension with Jenny joining the league...
Stephen Rannazzisi: Oh, yes. Not only has she joined the league, but this year, she has gone out and gotten her own team...And she has gone and gotten herself a job. I don't know who's idea this was. I am really a man on my own. I have my own team. I have no one that can help me run it. I have to figure all of this out for myself. There is an adjustment in my home life, because my wife isn't around as much as she used to be. I really wanted a baby. Instead, we get a dog. That is a happy compromise. I am really fixated on winning the Shiva Bowl this year. I feel that this is my time. I am ready to do it on my own. I don't have any excuses or anyone to blame but myself now.
How is the dog going to play into the storylines? Does it become a full-fledged member of the cast?
Stephen Rannazzisi: No membership for the dog. We were going to call the dog Time, because that is what it is essentially buying Jenny, from having another baby. I really wanted to have another baby. The dog plays into the first episode in a very funny, interesting way. Especially in Episode 3, where she is training the dog, but subsequently, ends up training me as well.
I know you have Seth Rogen coming in for some cameo appearances. Who else unexpected might we expect to see this season? Do you have any players this time around?
Stephen Rannazzisi: Of course Jason Mantzoukas is back as Rafi this year! He is fantastic. He is amazing. He works a lot, like you said, with Seth Rogen. Will Forte comes in this year. He will play Vince, one of the out of town guys you always hear about, but never see. He will come back and play that guy, and he was phenomenal in the scenes that we've shot so far this year. Brie Larson is on the show. She plays Ruxin's Au Pair. We have some great NFL players, Maurice Jones Drew and Sidney Rice. We have a pretty decent line-up. Then, we have Andre's sister coming on. We've never seen her. We have talked about her. I believe that she has been with four out of the five of us. The actress has not been confirmed yet. She will be very well known, and she will be very, very funny. I can tell you that.
Paul Scheer is Andre
Did you finish shooting NTSF:SD:SUV, and then jump straight into this?
Paul Scheer: Yes. NTSF:SD:SUV, we finished that in April. But we are still airing the first season right now. We will have our season finale the night The League has its season premiere. The cool thing about this show, and that show, is that they both have a very compact shooting schedule. We shoot this show in 52 days. 13 episodes. With the Adult Swim show, we shot that in 24 days. That allows you a lot of flexibility throughout the year, you're able to go and do other projects.
You guys shoot this on such a crazy, tight schedule. Does it ever shock or surprise you to shoot something, and then turn around, and see it on the air so quickly?
Paul Scheer: I love it. It keeps the show fresh. Most people that shoot a sitcom...They shoot five days a week, there are seven days between each episode. Because we shoot so quickly, we are not over thinking stuff. We are having fun. It keeps it moving. We are not getting sick of each other, or these characters. I think that keeps the show really fresh.
What are we going to see happened to Andre this year? This poor guy can't help but be the butt of most jokes. He is the guy most unscrupulously picked on...
Paul Scheer: The biggest thing that happens in the premiere is that, last year, I won the Sacko, which is the last place trophy. Part of winning the Sacko is that I am being punished from the end of last season, to the beginning of this season. They have been torturing me all year long. The premier episode brings the final punishment. Which is terrifying. They do something that happens in my apartment. It involves Dirty Randy, of course, and Rafi. It smells like raspberries. I can't go any more detailed than that. But it is pretty intense. Dirty Randy is someone we eluded to last season as this amazing porn producer and director. He is played by Seth Rogen.
Is he a fan of the show? Was this something that he sought out himself, or did you guys reach out to him, and get him involved?
Paul Scheer: We thought, "That's our dude." So we gave Seth some copies of certain episodes, and he really got into it. He was more than happy to come do the show. He killed it.
(Fans are screaming Paul Scheer's name like a group of raving maniacs just on the other side of where we stand...)
What's it like to be garnering this type of attention? You are blowing up right now...
Paul Scheer: Oh, it's hard for me to say. I have been very lucky to work with amazing and talented people, and they make me look great. Jeff Schaffer and Jackie Marcus Schaffer are a prime example. Being surrounded by awesome people is just a total dream come true.
Are there any embarrassing lines being thrown your way this season, that you may not necessarily want people screaming at you in the street or on the sidewalk when you pass them by?
Paul Scheer: Oh, man! That is such a good question. It's funny to hear what people will yell out at you. Last season, it was, "Child, please!" I am still getting, "Child, please!" That's what I said to Ochocinco last season. And that is what audiences responded too. So, I let the audience pick it. I just don't know until it happens. I don't know of anything that is jumping out at me. I don't yet know that there is a catch phrase for Andre this year.
What about the sports cameos. Are there any that you are excited for?
Paul Scheer: Oh, yeah! We had Maurice Jones Drew and Sidney Rice on the show. We also had Fantasy expert Matthew Berry. If you play Fantasy Football, you know that he is a hilarious writer, and a great analyst.
Is he working with one of the guys, specifically?
One last question. What is going on with your appearance in Piranha 3DD?
Paul Scheer: I am in the movie! Ving Rhames and I shot for one day. Piranha 3DD. The movie is insane. I hope that it comes out as good as it is written. It's a pretty insane premise. Piranha get loose in a water park. Ving Rhames, myself, David Hasselhoff, Christopher Lloyd, Gary Busey, David Koechner...How can you go wrong with that cast? You can definitely go wrong with that cast. So, who knows?
It was assumed that you died in the first movie...