The comedy TV career of Jeff Schaffer is certainly no joke.
He 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.”
This year alone, Schaffer helped usher in the 10th season of “Curb” while introducing the FXX comedy “Dave” and the Netflix series “Brews Brothers.”
“I always want to be able to say when we’re on set, ‘You don’t see that on TV every day,’ ” Schaffer said. “I think all three of these shows are really, really funny, and really unique.”
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. 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 [“Curb” creator/star] Larry David in them.’ ”
“Brews Brothers” is a family affair. The comedy was created by Schaffer’s brother, Greg, and centers on odd-couple brothers who attempt to save a failing craft brewery.
“Craft beer and craft brewing have just blown up in the last few years, and no one had really talked about it,” Schaffer said. “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.
“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 its 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.”
Schaffer credits 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 were 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 described it 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 said.
He would use that dash across the street to adjust his focus from one show to the other. “That was a very quick transition, coupled with some very close calls with cars.”