Schmigadoon!: We Speak to Cecily Strong and Cinco Paul

Dept. of Chats and Confabs


Schmigadoon!, the brand new musical comedy on Apple TV+, tells of a couple in a stagnating relationship who find themselves trapped in a musical which they can’t escape until and unless they find true love. (You can read our review of the series here!) In this Goggler exclusive, we caught up with one half of the couple in question, Cecily Strong (Saturday Night Live), and the show’s co-creator, Cinco Paul (Despicable Me), for a conversation about how the series came to be.

Umapagan Ampikaipakan: Cinco, my first question is for you. I loved Schmigadoon! But I was curious as to the conception of the show because it is batshit crazy. In the best possible way. Could you talk to me about how the series came about, as well as the decision to turn everything up to 11.

Cinco Paul: I love musicals so much, and my whole life I’ve wanted to make a musical, and the fact that this idea is a tribute – a love letter to musicals – is just my favorite thing. It’s my favorite thing I’ve ever done. But in order to make it work, and it works as a parody as well as just a loving tribute, you have to amp things up. And so, the singing and dancing is over the top. Danny Bailey is the the most over-the-top bad boy. I mean, I love his first number when he’s holding Cecily like that, and she’s just like, “okay, I guess I’m here.” But he can’t acknowledge the crazy. For him, this is his is reality. So it was really important that because they were so nuts, and larger than life, that Cecily and Keegan be really grounded and real. 

And that’s why it’s genius for casting these two amazing people, because they’re not only really funny, but they’re real. And I think that highlights the nuttiness going on around them. And how ultimately, they have to succumb to it. 


UA: Cecily, my next question is for you specifically. Musicals are always tough. They’re the hardest thing because you have to be the triple threat. You gotta sing. You gotta dance. You gotta act. But it feels like everything that you do, and have done, on SNL perfectly prepares you for this sort of thing. Could talk to me about some of the learnings or the training in SNL that got you ready to take on something like this? 

Cecily Strong: Sure. It’s funny, I like to joke like, where will I ever use my SNL training ever again in the world? Where will I need to know how to use cue cards?

UA: You always need to know how to do a spit take…

CS: Oh, I knew that before SNL. 

I think the immediacy of SNL is really important. You have to make decisions and you have to make changes really fast. You have to accept things and let things go very quickly. And you can’t hold on to anything too long because it’s a new show the next day. So I think that’s always really important. It can get very emotional. We get so attached to this little skit about an astronaut fighting in space or something, and somehow you’re so devastated when it’s cut, and it’s just living under a microscope. Sketch comedy becomes this hugely important thing. And you have to learn to let it go because there’s another show the next week. 

I think I’ve always enjoyed singing and dancing. So I’ll do it wherever they let me. I enjoy singing more than dancing. I like watching dancing more than doing it.

UA: Cinco, I wanted to talk about the songwriting in Schmigadoon!. Musicals are notoriously hard to pull off. And even harder on TV where you’ve got to keep churning out those earworms week after week. I think Central Park has really managed to pull that off. I think My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is another show that did an incredible job. And I wanted some insight about the rigor involved in the room with regards to the songwriting. God knows musical fans are the the worst critics when it comes to things like that.

CP: Well, now you’ve got me terrified. 

My favorite part of this was writing the songs. It was always really fun to write a new song and present it to the writers room. And it was hard because they all want to be so supportive and I want them to be truth tellers as much as possible. But it’s always hard to give notes on songs because it’s such a different creature. 

But I worked hard on these songs because I wanted them to feel authentic. My first couple of attempts at songs were very lazy, musical theater, parody songs. You know, the kind you would write on your first attempt. And I thought, I can’t let it be the first attempt. I need to be tougher on myself. So I really dove into the scores and played them through on the piano. And I really got to know what Richard Rodgers did, and what Frank Loesser did, and how they worked their magic. These songs are not as good as those songs by any means. But I tried to make them true to what the masters had done. 


UA: What would you like audiences to take away from Schmigadoon!?

CS: If it’s as simple as somebody smiling for six episodes, I’ll be thrilled. I would love that. I know it makes me smile.

CP: I would also say that it’s okay to be sincere, and it’s okay to have hope, and it’s okay to let your emotions out and tell people how you feel. Because that to me is kind of what musicals are all about. It’s what they gave to me. And I’m an overly sincere, hopeful person. And I think the world needs more of that.

Schmigadoon! is now streaming on Apple TV+.

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

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