Comedian and actor Matt Walsh was at SXSW Interactive in March to talk about “Veep,” the HBO comedy series in which he stars.
Walsh is also co-founder of the Upright Citizens Brigade, an improv comedy troupe and director of “A High Road,” an independent feature film. He is currently working on his second film, A Better You, which he reportedly shot digitally in 10 days.
We caught up with him to talk about politics, comedy and how “Veep” portrays Washington DC.
How has the internet made your job as a comedian easier? Or harder?
Easier or harder. Well, I was recently talking with a screenwriter friend of mine. One of the interesting things about technology is things like Google and texting have really challenged plot devices. Like if you can imagine a film noir movie where people could just text each other? You would never tail someone, you would never meet them in an alley.
I had to get to a phone…
Yeah, exactly. You don’t run out after the press conference and get into a phone. And then in terms of being like an actor, I guess it makes you …. you kind of have to be engaged, I think, with your audience. I do Twitter. I like twitter because it’s mostly one way. You don’t feel the burden of, oh, I have to get back.
What about Twitter as a form of comedy? Does it have any similarities with improv?
It does in that some days I’ll just try to tweet something. For example, I’ll just start writing and not thinking about it and then I’ll go back and edit it. So you’re sort of improvising your thought. Some people who are great at twitter, they have like 10 jokes banked in their drafts. I never do that. Like I see, “Oh that’s a cool picture, and I’ll get rid of it and I am like, I did my homework today … I am done with my Twitter homework.”
You have three young kids.
We have three young kids.
What’s funny to you about how they interact with technology?
Well, my son who is seven-and-half, Jude, because I work in Baltimore, he likes to text me on the iPad now, and because of that predictive texting, like if you start the world “he” it’ll sometimes say “Hershey” or “helium” and then you can just guess. So it’s like, “Hi dad, how are you elephant balloon Times Square is the house ready boyfriend guerrilla.”
Do you know what I mean? But it’s like two or three paragraphs. I think he thinks it makes him sound smart. So he’s using all these big words and it’s like, “Holy cow! You wrote me five paragraphs.” And then I read it and it’s sort of ridiculous.
I heard someone describe “Veep” as way more realistic than “House of Cards” when it comes to politics in Washington.
Which seemed like a great compliment and also moderately concerning.
Yeah. People laugh and say, “Boy, your show is exactly like DC!” And I’m like, “That shouldn’t be funny! That’s a really important business you guys should be doing.” But again I think that is what comedy does. It reminds you of … I always say politics is trying to push ideals and yet the reality is it’s like flawed people. You know, [they] get this bill, they are eating barbecued chicken or they are from downstate Illinois, and they are sitting on the senate oversight committee that wants to talk about the navigation on a drone and should we fund it for 2 more billion or not and they are like…
They’re like, “There’s barbecue on that page…”
Yeah. They are just normal, flawed human beings. I mean basically we should have a dictator and we’d be all better off.
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