Comedian Paul Scheer Reveals Childhood Abuse in New Memoir, Uses Humor to Heal

Paul Scheer's memoir delves deep into personal history.

by Nouman Rasool
Comedian Paul Scheer Reveals Childhood Abuse in New Memoir, Uses Humor to Heal
© Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

Paul Scheer, the charismatic comedian recognized from "The League," "Veep," and his engaging podcasts "How Did This Get Made?" and "Unspooled," has delved deep into his past to reveal a childhood riddled with trauma in his new memoir, "Joyful Recollections of Trauma." Known for his buoyant spirit, Scheer's upbringing was far from comedic, punctuated by physical and emotional abuse that he was the last to acknowledge as traumatic.

While discussing bad movies on his podcast with co-hosts Jason Mantzoukas and wife June Diane Raphael, Scheer began sharing personal stories that initially amused listeners. However, these tales, such as the one about a local butcher allegedly on the loose during his childhood, shocked his audience and co-hosts, highlighting the severity of his experiences.

The stories, once comedic interludes, evolved into poignant insights into Scheer’s troubled past, eventually forming the backbone of his memoir.

Unpacking Childhood Trauma

In "Joyful Recollections of Trauma," Scheer transcends traditional comedic narratives to explore the profound impact of his childhood experiences.

Unlike his comedic idols like Jerry Seinfeld and Paul Reiser, whose books mirror their stand-up routines, Scheer opts for a deeper exploration of how his formative years shaped him. One of the memoir’s essays recounts a humorous yet revealing incident at Disney World, where Scheer discovered his lactose intolerance—a moment of youthful joy undercut by the looming presence of his abusive stepfather, Hunter.

Scheer’s memoir navigates the delicate balance between dark topics and lighter anecdotes, reflecting on moments that are both cringeworthy and joyous. He insists that his writing aims to entertain rather than serve as a personal therapy session, though he acknowledges the therapeutic benefits of actual counseling.

This openness about mental health represents a shift in the comedic community, where personal struggles are increasingly recognized as universal experiences that can coexist with creativity. The comedian also credits improvisational comedy with providing a sense of safety and community that contrasted with his unstable home life.

Improv introduced him to a supportive network, a theme he explores further in his professional and personal life, including in his upcoming sitcom "DINKs" with Raphael. This innovative project will blend improvisation with traditional sitcom elements, performed in front of a live audience, reflecting Scheer’s lifelong passion for spontaneous performance.