Jackie and Jeff Schaffer were supposed to be having a romantic Christmas Eve dinner at a restaurant in France when Jeff got up to go to the bathroom. Except he didn’t really go to the bathroom: He went outside in the snow without a jacket to call back home to the States and check on his Fantasy Football teams. His wife eventually found him outside and thought, “This is a television show.”
And now it actually is a TV show: The Schaffers created The League, a half-hour comedy that follows a league of amoral, goofy friends who will do anything to win the trophy. And it’s now in its sixth season.
The two stopped by EW to talk about how they feel about potentially offending viewers, their most expensive scene yet, and who their actual Fantasy Football league’s trophy is named after—and no, it’s not Shiva.
On The League’s beginnings:
JACKIE: The League got started because I am married to someone who’s obsessed with Fantasy Football.
JEFF: Probably me.
JACKIE: And we were on vacation, a very nice, romantic vacation in France, skiing on Christmas Eve, and Jeff kept telling me that he had stomach problems and had to leave this very fancy restaurant and go out into the snow, with no jacket, pre-Skype, so on actual, real minutes of call-plan time, calling back to the States because he was in the Fantasy Championships of two separate leagues that night.
JEFF: I’m standing out in the middle of the snow, and I see her in the doorway.
JACKIE: And it’s just snow up to his knees. No jacket. Screaming into a phone, “Ahhh!” This is a grown man having a temper tantrum in a snow drift in the middle of France on Christmas Eve, and I just thought to myself, “This is a television show.”
On offending viewers:
JACKIE: Occasionally we do offend people, and it’s not intentional. Everything is meant to be in good fun. If anything, we call ourselves equal-opportunity offenders. And it’s all for the sake of comedy, and I don’t think we’re trying to sort of stand on a soapbox and make any sort of grand gestures about being good people and teaching humanity any lessons Wednesday nights at 10 p.m.
JEFF: I guess not. That’s fair.
JACKIE: But I do think that we do a good job sometimes of addressing issues in a comedic way that does bring awareness to an issue. For example, in the NFL right now, calling the Redskins the Redskins is a big issue this year and we’re going to address it head-on and talk about whether or not, you know, are you gonna Tony Dungy it up and call on Washington or is there historical pride that warrants calling a team the name that the team has called themselves for years? And so within our own league, we’re going to deal with this.
On the show’s most expensive scene:
JACKIE: The most expensive scene that we’ve ever filmed for The League, and I know this because we have no money. It’s like, couch change and camel cash, like literally, our budget is peanuts compared to most of the other shows that you see. And this year, the top of the season-six premiere is about a minute and a half scene that we spent an entire day shooting. And for most shows, not a big deal. For most movies, a sequence, they’ll spend a week shooting. The long, involved conversations that went into, “Is it worth it?” “You’re really going to drive down to this location in Ontario where we’re going to try to recreate the NFL combine and make this stadium in Ontario look like Lucas Oil field?” It was an enormous amount of money that we spent.
JEFF: Plus getting…
JACKIE: Flying in rookies. Most of them were already there for the ESPY Awards, thank God.
JEFF: Recreating the NFL combine for the season premiere was probably the most expensive day of shooting we’ve had just because it was the only thing we shot. And we shoot, every episode, we have about three and three quarters days to do an episode that’s all on location. So taking the extra time was this luxury. Also, there’s nothing else you can really shoot when you’re out in Ontario.
JACKIE: But usually, we’ll go to a bar for a day that costs $7,500, and we’ll shoot scenes from five different shows at that bar that day. So it’s kind of a mess.
JEFF: It was extravagant, but it was totally worth it and it really looks like we were there.
JACKIE: It looks great. We’re excited about it.
On how the characters came to be:
JACKIE: The characters all came to be from Jeff and I just drawing them out in our outline for the pilot. But things like Taco, it’s amazing. We wrote the character of Taco, being very much like Taco is and the idea that he would write his own stupid songs, and we had written in the script for the pilot that Taco sings an inappropriate birthday song. And then met Jon Lajoie, who had just released “It’s Your Birthday,” the song about how two parents are having sex and make their child and singing it to a small child. It was just total kismet. The fact that you can write that and then meet a guy who fits it?
JEFF: He appeared!
JACKIE: It’s amazing.
On this season:
JACKIE: One of the tings I’m most excited about this season is Taco Corp. Taco Corp with Jon Lajoie is on fire this year. You are going to see a lot of Taco Corp. Everyone should buy stock in Taco Corp now. That company is on fire, it is the one to watch. We’ll be tracking that over the course of the season.
JEFF: Yeah. Very big things from Taco Corp this season.
On the show’s real-life league:
JACKIE: We’re in another league together with the six cast members.
JEFF: Most of the cast members had never played Fantasy Football. The only one who had was Steve Rannazzisi . And myself. And so we said, “Oh, we should do a league, the league of The League,” and he looked at me and he goes, “Buddy, we got this. We got this, this is going to be easy.”
JACKIE: “We’re going to smoke those losers,” I believe was the quote.
JEFF: End quote. He has not sniffed the playoffs. He lost to Taco. He lost to Jon Lajoie.
JACKIE: It’s a famous story on set. The two of them were in the makeup trailer, and Steve is just going apes–t about how he lost that weekend. And Jon said to him, innocently, “Who are you playing?” He was playing Jon. But Jon didn’t even set his lineup. And was playing players on a bye.
JEFF: Still won.
JACKIE: Steve left the makeup trailer and just couldn’t function. The league’s trophy is actually called the Aselton Cup because my fellow female teammate is Katie Aselton, who won the first year. And Jeff has never won the championship in the league. Nick Kroll has won once. I have won twice. I am the only person who has won twice.
JEFF: It is the most public yet of my many humiliations.
JACKIE: That’s right.
The League airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FXX.