Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for The Paley Center for Media
On Tuesday in Beverly Hills—the night before The League’s series finale aired on FXX—the Paley Center for Media hosted a send-off for the show with an advanced screening of the last episode and a lively panel discussion.
The evening’s honorees included co-creators and executive producers Jeff Schaffer and his wife Jackie Marcus Schaffer, and actors Jon Lajoie (Taco), Stephen Rannazzisi (Kevin), Katie Aselton (Jenny), Jason Mantzoukas (Rafi), and Paul Scheer (Andre), who arrived late to the event. (He joked that he was at a Heroes event across the street.) Mark Duplass (Pete) and Nick Kroll (Ruxin) were unable to attend because of previous engagements.
Actor-comedian Rob Huebel, who plays supporting character Russell on the show, served as the moderator for the discussion. Almost immediately after telling the audience, “I’m on mushrooms,” (he was kidding, we think) the night quickly devolved into a (mostly) scatalogical joke fest, complete with f-bombs and ribald humor flying across the stage. It was truly the perfect way to bid adieu to the irreverent show about friendship, fantasy football and fornication.
In between the laughs and the zingers, we learned a few interesting tidbits from The League’s stars, so here are 10 of our favorite moments/lines/insights from the red carpet interviews and the panel discussion that followed.
Co-creator Jeff Schaffer recounted the show’s origin story for Paste. He and his wife, The League co-creator Jackie Marcus Schaffer, were vacationing in France. She had set up a nice dinner for them, on a Sunday. “Sunday night in France is Sunday afternoon back in the States, and I was in the Super Bowl with two leagues. And this is like 2006, and I kept saying the French food was making me sick, and I had to go to the bathroom. But I wasn’t going to the bathroom, I was running out into a snowdrift—pre-smart phones—to just call, at great expense to myself, just to see how I was doing,” he said. “And the second time, I’m standing in a snowdrift, literally. I look up and she’s [points to Jackie] in the doorway. And she just laughs and says, ‘This is the most pathetic thing I’ve ever seen. This is a great idea for a TV show.’”
If there were a through line for the night, it was poop—understandable, since The League wasn’t afraid to get dirty, literally and metaphorically, during its seven-season run. When we asked Steve Rannazzisi about his favorite scenes, he said, “My most memorable pooping experience on the show was next to the side of the road at a dog park, while cars were passing by thinking that I was actually going to the bathroom [in the “Yobogoya” episode]. Probably that… was the low point.”
“[My character Russell] got pinned with being a sex addict, and I had to have sex with a lot of different people and then it became inanimate objects. One time, it was a bunch of cheese—like a tray or platter of cheese,” Huebel said in the press line. “My mom doesn’t have cable—so I’m like, ‘Oh, thank God my mom doesn’t have cable. Oh, thank God she’s not going to see this. My mom’s like a Southern lady, she does not need to see that.” Huebel adds that if she were ever to watch him fornicate with cheese on TV, then he’d probably not be invited home for Christmas.
Jon Lajoie selected three of the most outrageous businesses from stoner-entrepreneur Taco’s many ventures: “Heavy Petting was fun… a petting zoo that Taco ran out of his Uncle Frank’s van. His Pubercuts—[it] wasn’t fun necessarily being up in everyone’s junk shooting those scenes—but it was a lot of fun. And one [Taco venture] actually made it into Shark Tank. Some guys were pitching it on Shark Tank as the Neckflix. Taco’s business of Netflix for neckties, so you order different ties and they show up in the mail. That was actually one of Taco’s ideas, which was a good idea. And then some people tried to pitch it on Shark Tank... which is bullshit.”
Moderator Huebel asked the panelists about their favorite made-up words from the show, and the cast and creators shouted out The League’s catchphrases, like “Eskimo brothers,” “fear boners,” “vinegar strokes,” “Yobogoya!,” “toilet kitchen” and many more. Jon Lajoie, however, threw out an unexpected made-up term—9/11—which caused some of the audience members to gasp, and Rannazzisi to turn beet red. [Earlier this year, Rannazzisi apologized for lying about his escape from the Twin Towers on 9/11.]
Photo Credit: Patrick McElhenney/FXX
Huebel singled out Aselton, who admittedly knows nothing about football, to pick her favorite sports guest star. She picked two: “JJ Watt [Houston Texans’ defensive end] totally jumped out as an awesome guy… And [Green Bay Packers’ wide receiver] Randall Cobb, who was so handsome…he was so dreamy.”
[Mild spoilers ahead] An audience member asked the panel why Ted (Adam Brody) and Sofia (Nadine Velazquez) had to die. “With Ted, we wanted to shock people,” answered Jeff Schaffer. “And Sofia’s death is something we wanted to do for years.” And no, they said, it had nothing to do with Velazquez. Jackie Schaffer added that they wanted Ruxin to “show human emotion” in this last season.
Photo Credit: Patrick McElhenney/FXX
“He’s a morally repugnant individual,” Jason Mantzoukas said of his vile and disgusting character in the press line. “But it’s actually quite fun to come up with lines for that kind of a character.” We asked if there was a scene that captured Rafi’s essence. “You know, there’s so many gross Rafi moments, but Rafi sitting on a toilet, fully naked, but then eating a hot dog is really very perfectly, Rafi.” We learned later during the panel portion that, in real life, Mantzoukas is a germaphobe, so he had to get out of his comfort zone to perform some of Rafi’s dirty antics.
Paste asked Lajoie and Aselton about their post-League plans. “I’m putting out a musical project in mid-January. It’s basically me, acoustic guitar and I have a band, and it’s going to be called Wolfie’s Just Fine. It’s basically my indie folk project,” said Lajoie. Aselton has an upcoming five-episode arc on HBO’s Togetherness, created by the Duplass brothers (her husband Mark and his brother Jay). “I don’t want to say too much, because the cliffhanger was kind of exciting, but I play a nice sort of pushback to Melanie’s character. And for me, coming from The League, it was really fun to work with Melanie, who’s such an incredible actress. To have that feminine energy was the greatest thing.”
The Shiva is the name of the trophy given annually to the winner of the gang’s fantasy football league. It’s named after Shivakamini Somakandarkram, their high school valedictorian, who’s now a urologist, specializing in genital reconstruction. The Schaffers kept The Shiva, along with the “Sacko” trophy for the worst team and The Kluneberg (a painting that involves a bird and a butt). But, here’s a fun fact that Jeff Schaffer revealed to the audience—“There’s a copy of The Shiva in the Fantasy Football Hall of Fame; Yes, there is such a thing: It’s an exhibit that’s currently located in Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers.
Christine N. Ziemba is a Los Angeles-based freelance pop culture writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her on Twitter.