Matt Walsh is most recognizable for his starring role on HBO’s “Veep”, in which he plays harried, Siri-obsessed White House spokesperson Mike McLintock. But the veteran of stage and screen left a lasting impact on American almost two decades ago, when he cofounded the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre with Amy Poehler and Matt Besser. The theatre and training center, which operates in New York and Los Angeles, has spawned many of today’s finest actors, writers and filmmakers.
Walsh began his career in Chicago before moving to New York and changing the face of American comedy. His lengthy TV and film credits include “The Hangover,” “Comedy Bang! Bang!,” “Role Models,” and “Hung”; he’ll also appear in the upcoming “Ghostbusters” reboot, and has directed two mostly-improvised features, High Road and A Better You. He's also a full-time father.
In his own words, here’s Walsh on strange dreams, nonstop improv marathons and getting the kids to bed.
I try to get a regular amount of sleep. Now that my kids are older, we are on a better routine then when they were really young. I usually get to bed by midnight and wake up when the kids do, around 6:30 a.m. It is not terrible.
Come bedtime I close the blackout curtains, remove the decorative pillows my wife likes, turn on the air purifier, all lights off — including cell phone screens, etc. Morning is getting up, checking the news, then getting the kids ready with breakfast and off to school.
Tips for getting kids to bed: Tire them out during the day, get in the pool, go for a hike, run them around the yard. Don't put them in a big kid bed until they are ready. Sound effects during stories like soft wind or whispering characters helps make their eyelids heavier.
I've been up for almost 36 hours straight directing an all-day event. The trick was to keep moving and get outside for fresh air. Regular intervals of caffeine toward the end.
The one shoot I remember being exhausted on was a night shoot where we had to wrap before sunrise. With, say, fifteen minutes till sunup they got to my coverage, which was a large monologue. I just remember the disgruntled faces of the exhausted crew staring at me every time I made a mistake. We got it.
Hotel horror stories? In the 1990s I was on a touring gig with Second City in Portland. The hotel room was so small the door hit the bed when you walked in. Also there was a used condom in the waste basket.
We — the Upright Citizens Brigade — throw a three-day nonstop improv festival called The Del Close Marathon that happens in June in NYC every year. When we started I stayed up nonstop, performing and watching my friends perform. Now that it is 72 hours of nonstop improv, I usually can go 24 or so but tap out and nap here and there.
My recurring dream? Being in a maze I can't get out of. That's a nightmare, not a dream, by the way.
My bedside table has phone chargers, a lamp, kids’ books and a glass of water.