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'The Taper': Sara Schaefer Redefines the Cop Drama

You'd think that network television police procedurals would have covered every plot imaginable in a cop drama. But The Taper, a new short written, directed, and edited by comedian Sara Schaefer -- who was featured as one of Back Stage's "10 Comics to Watch" earlier this year -- finds a fresh angle by being a cop show about a cop whose only job is to put up police tape.

The Taper stars comedians Nick Vatterott and Nick Turner, and features other comics including Livia Scott, Mike O’Gorman, Kara Klenk, and more -- plus Scott Moran as a dead body.

Schaefer is a NYC-based stand-up comic who was the head blogger/researcher for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon from its launch up until this summer, when she began her new gig as a writer for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

On her website, Schaefer explained why creating a video like The Taper was more difficult than her stand-up:

It’s not like stand-up, which is so fluid and impermanent that if something falls flat, you can simply change it up the next time or just abandon the idea all together. “Notes” from people in the biz can be ignored or incorporated as you see fit. With a video, however, you have to post it, set it free, and hope for the best. Once it’s out there, you can’t really change it unless you want to keep taking it down and re-posting it, which doesn’t really work with the nature of the internet. It’s either a hit or it’s not. Not that I expect this video to be a viral hit. It’s more of a short film and does not include any cats or guys getting kicked in the nuts. But I do hope that it is well-received and entertains a few people. Plus, it was a way for me to put all the skills I’ve gathered over the past few years to the test.

When we spoke with her in June for our annual comedy special issue, Schaefer said, "I'm hanging onto the dream of writing for TV or performing on TV, or some combination of those two things. I've been around it, and I've seen it, and I've learned how it works. I've just grown so much with experience [at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon], and it's made me hungry for it and want to go out there and work even harder.

"I'm very encouraged in the past couple of years," she added, "because there's been so much success of women in comedy. Especially in TV, like with a lot of female-fronted sitcoms like Parks and Rec with Amy Poehler and 30 Rock with Tina Fey. And now, so many of the pilots this season are female-run, or female-starring, or written by females. I'm just very inspired and encouraged by that, because I do think the female comedian is for everyone.

"I feel like I've already in many ways surpassed what I thought would be possible for me. Being able to make a living as a comedian, in my own way, has been a dream come true in itself, and that to me is a huge success. If for some reason I had to stop right now and do something else, I wouldn't feel that I had failed."

Read more about Sara Schaefer and The Taper on her website. She also promises to post more videos in the future, so be sure to keep an eye on this "Comic to Watch."

-- Daniel Lehman

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