The comedy TV career of Jeff Schaffer is certainly no joke.
Schaffer has been a behind-the-scenes staple for decades, working as a producer and writer on “Seinfeld” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and as a co-creator of the raucous fantasy football sitcom “The League.”
These days, he’s as busy as ever. This year alone, Schaffer helped usher in the 10th season of “Curb” while introducing the FXX comedy “Dave” in March and the Netflix series “Brews Brothers” this month.
“I always want to be able to say when we’re on set, ‘You don’t see that on TV every day,’” Schaffer told the Daily News. “I think all three of these shows are really, really funny, and really unique, and there’s a ton of moments where you just go, ‘Oh, I’ve never seen that on TV. I don’t see that on TV every day.’ That’s exactly what we’re going for.”
Schaffer, 50, co-created “Dave” with its star, rapper Lil Dicky, whose real name is Dave Burd and who plays an enhanced version of himself as he pursues hip-hop greatness.
“Dave,” which aired its season finale Wednesday at 10 p.m., has enjoyed strong viewership and big-name guests, including Justin Bieber and Macklemore.
Schaffer was sold on the series when he met Burd.
“He started to talk about the kind of stories that have happened to him, and the kind of stories he wanted to tell,” Schaffer recalled. “I was very surprised, and I really responded to them, because they were the kind of stories that I like to do on ‘Curb.’ … I was like, oh, this guy’s funny. He has funny things happen to him, that have a lot of Larry David in them. … There’s a lot of Larry David in Dave Burd.”
“Brews Brothers,” on the other hand, is a family affair. The comedy, which hit Netflix April 10, was created by Schaffer’s brother, Greg, and centers on two odd-couple brothers who attempt to save a failing craft brewery.
Schaffer serves as an executive producer.
“Craft beer and craft brewing have just blown up in the last few years, and no one had really talked about it,” Schaffer explains. “You used to drink beer to get drunk, and now you go to a bar and people are telling you how hoppy this IPA is. Like, it’s insane. It’s like, oh, this needs to get talked about.
“Also, the idea of running a brewery is so counterproductive. People get into running a craft brewery, why? Because they love drinking beer. So now, you’re asking them to make a lot of it, drink a lot of it, but also run a successful business. That’s impossible!”
Schaffer realized he wanted to work on comedy TV after enrolling at Harvard and joining the famed humor magazine, The Harvard Lampoon.
While there, he noticed Lampoon alumni like Conan O’Brien and Greg Daniels had gone on to become professional comedy writers.
“That’s an actual job!” Schaffer realized. “You can do that. That’s cool. I was lucky that by the time I graduated, I knew that’s what I wanted to do, or at least I realized I was too irresponsible to do anything else. So I didn’t have to waste time going to law school to figure it out.”
Shaffer’s big break came on “Seinfeld.” He credits co-creators David and Jerry Seinfeld for teaching him “everything” about the TV industry, including how to structure a comedy series. Among his achievements with those shows include creating the Festivus Pole for “Seinfeld” and directing episodes of “Curb.”
As he looks back on how he juggled making “Curb,” “Dave” and “Brews Brothers” all at once, Schaffer describes last summer as “a complete blur.”
“Doing (post-production) with ‘Curb,’ and the writers room for ‘Dave’ was right across this very busy street, so I was doing sort of a Hollywood version of ‘Frogger,’ running back and forth,” Schaffer recalls. (That’s a reality George Costanza knows all too well).
He would use that dash across the street to adjust his focus from one show to the other.
“That was a very quick transition,” Schaffer remembers with a laugh, “coupled with some very close calls with cars.”
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