The hater: You might not know it, but comedian Sara Schaefer has produced all sorts of content you probably loved. She brought the memes and hilarity as the head of both Best Week Ever and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’s blogs, winning two Emmys for the latter. She has also written for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and hosted her own weekly MTV chat show, Nikki & Sara Live, with fellow comedian Nikki Glaser. The two also hosted a podcast, You Had To Be There, together.
Schaefer’s latest project is Chrysalis, her debut comedy LP. It’s out now on Comedy Dynamics.
The A.V. Club: Why is this the song you picked?
Sara Schaefer: Well it’s funny, because fundamentally, I do like the song. Musically, I find it enjoyable. It was actually hard for me to pick a song because even songs I used to hate, when I hear them now, I feel nostalgic. Like, “Oh, remember when Barenaked Ladies was terrible?”
But this song—I’m trying to remember when it came out.
SS: 1990. Thank you for being on top of it.
I was 12 years old and it came out and I really liked it. I had the tape. I had the single. And I would listen to it all the time. But around the same time, do you remember when Three Men And A Baby was out, and then later on, once it had come out on video, people were like, “It’s haunted”?
AVC: Oh, the dead kid?
SS: Yeah. Everyone was talking about it at school and stuff, so my younger sister and I got it from Blockbuster or something. We begged our mom to get the movie. We were like, “We’re going to see if this is true.”
We watched the movie, and we saw it. We paused it and we were freaking out. I have never been so scared in my entire life. It was one of those things where—you know, growing up you hear ghost stories, and you hear Bloody Mary, you know all these things, and there’s no evidence of it. It’s just imagination. It’s purely in your mind. But this was something I could see with my own eyes. And I didn’t understand that bloopers can happen in movies, and things can get in the shot. You know, I was 12. So I was like, “This is real, there’s a dead kid in the movie, ghosts are real, I am never going to sleep again.” I still get creeped out when about I think of the image of it, because it really fucked me up.
So my sister and I, we shared a room. That night we were trying to fall asleep, and we always would get scared at night. We would get scared of all kinds of stuff. And we would comfort each other and be like, “Okay, I’m going to protect you tonight.” We would take turns and we were a team. This night, neither of us could calm down. We couldn’t fall asleep because we were so afraid of Three Men And A Baby.
And so we decided to sing to get our minds on something else. We used to sing the My Little Pony theme song to each other, to be like, “It’s something that’s happy, and you can’t be scared of My Little Pony!” And so this time we thought, “Let’s put on a song and listen to it, so that we’re not scared anymore.” And so we decided to put on “Groove Is In The Heart.” What could go wrong? That song is just fun times, it’s groovy, you’re dancing, you know? It’s about succotash, which I didn’t even know what that was. So I put it in my little pink boom box, and we start playing it, and it gets to this one part in the middle, where there’s this part where it’s sort of like a breakdown, and there’s no singing. There’s this part where you hear this noise in the background, and it’s like “heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeea!” You know what I’m talking about?
AVC: I think it’s a slide whistle, if I’m thinking of the right part.
SS: It’s in the middle of the song, and Ross and I, when that happened—my sister’s name is Ross—it was one of those moments when we both were on the same wavelength. And so she’s like, “Sara…” I’m like, “Yeah,” and she’s like, “This song is kind of creeping me out.” And I’m like, “Me, too! Turn it off!” We got scared of the song for some reason. It just got creepy in the middle. I don’t know why, so then the song was ruined for me, and it made me afraid. Whenever I heard it I just got the willies. I just got just chills on my skin. I don’t know why.
I’ve actually talked to other people before, and they said, “Yeah, that song is kind of creepy.” I think it’s sort of trippy. I can see why kids love that song when you first hear it. The voices, they’re kind of funny. It’s borderline a children’s song. But it’s like a children’s nightmare. There’s something about it that just gets creepy. The video is all psychedelic and stuff.
So we just turned it off and it was even worse. We were double scared. It felt like the devil was coming in our room. The song has never been the same ever since that night. And I don’t know why. It just was a perfect storm of being a kid and being scared.
I don’t know what it is about that song that somehow turns scary in the middle of the night under the covers. I seriously can’t listen to it now without getting the heebie-jeebies. And it’s all because some kid got in the shot in one of the most important films of our time. It got ruined by this kid who hung out behind a curtain. And it wasn’t even a kid—it was a cardboard cutout! It was a Ted Danson cardboard cutout or something. Wait—was Ted Danson in that?
AVC: He was. It was Danson, Steve Guttenberg…
SS: Burt Reynolds?
AVC: It was Tom Selleck. Close.
SS: I always get them mixed up. It was a cardboard cutout of one of them that I guess had been on set for something, and it somehow made it in the shot and became part of a 12-year-old’s nightmares.
That’s kind of why I hate that song. It’s the love/hate. I want to love it. I want to dance to it. But then I hear that banshee screaming in the background and I’m like, “You get away from me!”
AVC: Do you think it’s the slide whistle?
SS: It’s definitely an instrument of some kind. Or is it a person? Or is it the devil?
AVC: It’s that ghost child.
SS: It’s the dead kid screaming out into the night because he’s trapped on the Baby set.
I want to do a movie about that ghost. What happened to you that the place you haunt is the set of a really crazy ’80s movie?
AVC: That’s a good idea. Have it start out with that shot, and then he goes back to his parallel world behind that mirror.
SS: Yeah, we’ll brainstorm it, and maybe I’ll write up an outline, and then you and me can meet up and we’ll sell it.
AVC: And then we’ll somehow get Lady Miss Kier from Deee-Lite involved.
SS: It’ll be Three Women And A Baby. This will be like the female Ghostbusters. It will be three women who are like, “What do we do with this baby?!”
AVC: That kind of sounds like an SNL skit, but it would be so hard to explain.
SS: I know. It would be like, “Okay, so guys, remember back in the ’80s when you weren’t born?”
I feel like in the early ’90s, there was a lot of weird music coming out. Music was changing a lot. Hip-hop was starting and I just feel like there were a lot of songs that defied category. Like Jamiroquai. They were just groovy songs that you just want to dance to.
AVC: A lot of it was club music.
SS: It’s just so funny because I was just so young, I didn’t know how to identify what I was listening to, and that was back when you still had radio which was feeding you whatever music. That’s what you listened to, was what was on. You didn’t research and choose your own. I mean, I guess these days it’s like, whatever’s on the top of iTunes is what a lot of kids will gravitate towards. I don’t even know. How do kids even find music now?
AVC: YouTube? I have no idea. Friends?
SS: YouTube stars? Yeah. I don’t even understand what’s happening.
AVC: I could see why you’d like the “Groove Is In The Heart” video as a kid, too. It’s like Yo Gabba Gabba, basically. All bright colors and wiggling.
SS: At first you’re like, “This is made for me.” But it’s very adult when you get into it.
AVC: It’s like “Love Shack” in that way.
SS: Yes! I was trying to think of another example where you’re just confronted with too many colors and sounds and you’re just like, “Should I be terrified?”
Sometimes as a little kid, you know like Santa is supposed to be your hero, and then you meet Santa and freak out screaming. There’s a fine line between “this is for kids” or “this is terrifying.” Kind of like clowns.
AVC: It doesn’t help that everybody in these videos looks like they’re 32 years old. No one is 18. Everyone looks like Fred Schneider.
SS: Yeah. Who is Deee-Lite? What were their lives like?
AVC: The two guys in Deee-Lite are a big question mark for me. Lady Miss Kier, I see why she was popular. But you look at the other two guys in that band and wonder, who are these guys? What are they doing now?
SS: You know what else is scary about that song? It’s like the part in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory when they’re singing “No one knows where we’re going…” That creepy part? It’s like, I thought we were going to have a fun ol’ time for kids, and now this is what happens when you do too many drugs.
AVC: It just got ruined by time and place, and by that dead child.
SS: I feel like the “Groove Is In The Heart” video was a subliminal message to kids to try acid.