Quarantine is no joke. But while respecting stay-at-home orders, the creators of The Fantasy Show transferred the irreverent fun from their ESPN set in Bristol, Conn., to produce a work-from-home NFL Free Agency Special that debuts on ESPN+ (tonight, after 8:30 ET). The show contains all their usual self-deprecating, shameless and embarrassing humor. (Take a look at the highlight clip above, for instance.)
Front Row asked a few of them how they did it.
Besides the health and safety of your team, what was your primary concern when you decided to go ahead with producing the show?
DJ Gallo, writer/producer: The Fantasy Show exists in a unique environment, [co-host] Matthew Berry’s fantasy playhouse. So we had to be sure we recreated that feel in a quarantine situation.
Ed Eck, coordinating producer: Editing the show when we’re all at home was a big concern, but lucky for us we have [show editor] Mark Maynard, who did an amazing job piecing it all together, even when his power went out Monday afternoon.
One of the unique aspects of The Fantasy Show is the irreverent tone and the comedy that comes out of it. How did you approach writing the show, given the overall context everyone is living through now?
Matthew Berry, co-host: Among the nods to everyone’s quarantine situation, I did the entire show in my bathrobe and we ranked the things left in Daniel’s fridge. Otherwise, we just talked about fantasy football in our usual self-deprecating way.
Daniel Dopp, co-host: We tried to remember that our fans have an expectation, and we wanted to be true to that. The hope is our little comedy bits make you laugh and provide a reprieve from what’s going on in our world right now.
What was the one moment during the writing or shooting when you thought, “O.K., this might actually work?”
MB: The opening sequence is always a bit involved, but Ed did a test sequence at home with his son as cameraman and Daniel on FaceTime. That’s when I knew this could work.
DD: Standing in my kitchen holding soybean paste as Matthew talked about his Loves/Hates from my fridge.
EE: The best part of the show is the chemistry between Matthew and Daniel, so I was worried their interactions would seem stilted with them 25 miles apart. But as soon as we set up the first video conference, they went right at each other and I knew it would be good.
Was there anything you tried that just didn’t work?
MB: We had an idea to have me, Daniel and the puppets singing a fantasy football version of “Imagine” in a parody of the famous Gal Gadot & Friends video, but music clearance rights and my tone-deafness killed that idea.
DJG: We have a few fairly complicated ideas that we still want to do, but we decided it was smarter to get one quarantine episode safely in the can before we attempt to secure our “QuarantEmmy”. We’ll take another run at it in our post-[NFL] Draft show.
Conversely, what did work that you were dubious about?
MB: All the segments with Daniel Dopp, but that’s every episode.
DD: Matthew Berry.
DJG: We put a lot on Matthew and Daniel to handle their lighting, camera work, and set decoration. Not that I thought they couldn’t handle it all, but they did a great job.
Mark Maynard produced the video.