With televisions, laptops, tablets and smartphones set to explode with Peak TV’s latest barrage in April, it’s hard to find niche shows these days. Thankfully for comedians Paul Scheer (The League) and Rob Huebel (Children’s Hospital), the Crash Test collaborators found a welcoming home for their ride-sharing farce Drive Share at go90 — the free streaming service launched and operated by Verizon.
The 30-episode web series — which launched its first episode, “Backbiting Besties” on January 27th — concludes today with “Nervous Escort, Driver Farts.” Obviously these titles require little to no explanation. Though a quick review of previous episode titles reveals an even greater array of weirdly funny scenes that just about anyone who has ever used an Uber, a Lyft or another ride-sharing service can relate to. Scheer and Huebel admitted as much when they talked to us about making Drive Share.
Was Drive Share something that you two came up with approached go90 about or was it the other way around?
Scheer: You know, it was an idea we had. go90 liked it so they bought it, although they ultimately suggested we do 30 episodes overall and make each one only five to seven minutes long. I think it really works for this. It could have worked as a half hour comedy, but with these these little bite-sized chunks it makes it more fun and accessible for more people. That was their part of the puzzle.
Huebel: Paul and I also have a contract by which we will only do comedy in different vehicles. Last year we did a comedy special called Crash Test. It was on a bus, so this is all us doing jokes in Ubers or Lyfts. After this we’ll probably do… I don’t know, Paul. Maybe a deck boat or a blimp or something?
Scheer: Eventually we’ll kill ourselves in one of those vehicles. That will be the whole circle of our career.
The vehicles are getting smaller, so maybe bikes or scooters are next? Have you thought about Segways?
Huebel: Sure, Segways will be coming up. [Laughs.] Not to get too heady about it, but I think there is something very fun about doing comedy in such an enclosed space. That’s the whole idea of Uber. You’re trapped with this person until you get out. It’s similar to what we did with Crash Test, though with a slightly larger group of people. It’s fun to create those confines and test people — be they actual people or actors performing a bit. They could always leave these situations, which are exaggerated of course, but they never do until the ride is over.
Scheer: It’s also sort of an inherently torturous thing about Uber, you know? You’re sharing a ride with someone. You literally can’t get away from them while you’re still in the car. Everyone who’s sharing rides with everyone else realizes, “Oh fuck. I’m stuck with this motherfucker for the next 20 minutes.” Everyone who uses these services has been through some form of this. A lot of our ideas came from experiences we had, or stories our friends told us. Or other things, like Seth Myers’ crazy story about his pregnant wife almost giving birth in the back of an Uber. So we did one where this pregnant woman acts like she isn’t because she doesn’t want to pay the clean up fee.
Huebel: One time, I had an Uber with a guy who had a full DJ set up in the front passenger seat. He was DJing while he drove. We were talking about it and he said, “I’m DJ Dan and I’m going to rock you home.” He did that the entire time while he drove us home, so that inspired a few episode ideas. If you had a DJ, what could be worse? How about a guy who wants to turn his car into a Chuck E. Cheese playpen? He fills the interior with balls, like a ball pit, and that’s what passengers have to ride in.
Scheer: We did about 80 of these rides to break the wall. Some are really out there, like the one that takes place in a Mad Max: Fury Road-like future, while others were just simple, like when one of the riders can’t stop farting. It’s all over the place.
Obviously this is a scripted series, but was there room for the other performers to bring their own ideas to the table?
Huebel: It depends on the person. Most of the people on the show are friends of ours who came up through UCB and the improv world. For many of them, we would offer a concrete structure for how a particular scene would begin and end, but leave plenty of wiggle room. We’d say something like, “It’s going to start like this and it’s going to go like this, but whatever you want to say or do in the middle is fine.” So if they were a great improviser, we would let them do that. And of course we would get stuff that was way better than what we wrote.