POI - Matt Walsh

Matt Walsh on The Road to Hollywood, His secular wedding, And More

May 30, 2019

On this week’s episode of Point of Inquiry, Jim Underdown speaks with longtime friend, actor, writer, and comedian, Matt Walsh. This episode may be different from what you’re used to as we take a break from examining science, culture, and religion and instead give you the chance to get to know one of Point of Inquiry’s new hosts.

Mr Saigon
Matt Walsh and Jim Underdown from the show Mr. Saigon circa 1990

Underdown has been close friends with Matt Walsh for over 30 years. Many may know Walsh from his role as Mike McLintock on the show Veep, which recently aired its series finale. The two grew up in Chicago where they both performed improv comedy before Walsh went on to form the Upright Citizens Brigade theater in New York City along with members Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, and Ian Roberts. The conversation explores their lives growing up in Chicago and the various stages in Walsh’s life as an actor and comedian.

Walsh has appeared in numerous films, television shows, and has toured the country performing. He also is involved with various charities and socially impactful causes like The Awesome Foundation and Defy Ventures, which aims to end mass incarceration and the recidivism rate.

You can find Walsh on Twitter: @mrmattwalsh

New music heard on this episode

“Paper Feather” by Blue Dot Sessions / CC BY-NC 4.0

“Building the Sled” by Blue Dot Sessions / CC BY-NC 4.0

Welcome to another episode of Point of Inquiry. I’m your host Jim Underdown, executive director of the Center for Inquiry in Los Angeles. Today, we’re going to stray off the super serious topics we sometimes deal with and talk to actor, writer and comedian Matt Walsh. 

Matt Walsh is probably best known for playing Mike McLintock in the award winning HBO show Veep. But he’s also done tons of movies, lots of TV shows, and still performs on stage at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Los Angeles. That theater, known as UCB to an entire generation of comic performers, is a valuable training ground where newcomers learn the art of improvization and get really valuable stage time to hone their craft. Matt Walls with Amy Poehler, Matt Besser and Ian Robards are the founders of UCB, the group and the theater. Actually, there are you Seabees in New York and in Los Angeles. I met Matt way back in 1986 when we were both in class together at another improv school. The Players Workshop of the Second City, Bill Murray, Brian Doyle, Murray, Bob Odenkirk, Harold Remis, Amy Sedaris, Jim O’Haire and others are among their more famous alumni. This episode I talked to Matt about his early days, his Chicago roots, his path to fame and success, how he gives back to the culture and he does, and why the hell he and his wife Morgan decided to have me officiate at their secular wedding in 2009. Ladies and gentlemen, Matt Walsh. 

OK, we’re here with Matt Walsh. 

And we want to talk about. 

Well, today’s Earth Day. Happy Earth Day and try to planetary or some today. And then Thursday is the NFL draft and the Bears don’t have a pick until the third round. Because they traded everything away for Carleo Mac and some money. Oh, yeah. But I think it’s wise. I don’t think you. Like those first and second round picks I always translate into like. Game changing players met. 

It’s the Center for Inquiry podcast. It’s kind of it’s more about like secularism and humanism, atheists and that sort of stuff. So I don’t know. 

Nobody’s going to be interested in the Bears draft goggle bears. 

Well, I guess a few of them would be, but still family. Well, a lot of people are familiar with your work. I thought we since we we have a little bit of a shared history. You and I, we’ve known each other over 30 years now. 

Thirty years back in time and I was in college when we met. Yeah, I took an improv class with Jim. 

With you players workshop, I was twenty something, twenty one, eighty six. 

Graduated 87 the same year I graduated college. Wow. 

It’s 33 years. We’ve known each other. 

So, yeah. 

Part of that year, you were commuting from northern DeKalb, Illinois, together into the city of Chicago to do and you were busy being the fifth blues brother, the third blues brother Osgoode, the third unknown blues brother Osgoode Osgoode Blues filling it out. 

But not paying any royalties to Paramount, you know, at all. 

I’m from Wheaton. 

And so we kind of think that John Belushi and his entire body of work is sort of the Tom Flynn domain. 

I don’t mind that. Yeah. 

Andreoli, that’s right around the corner. And they were from Joliet. 

And I eventually became the Polaroid of Calumet City, which is where the orphanage was. I mean, really, that’s my material. 

But you never had their police car. You had a Cadillac back then. You had a big Cadillac. You did not have a police dog, police car. 

Seventy four sedan de ville, which was not easy to park in our old neighborhood. 

I got to tell you, to push cars away with it. And in fact, that I didn’t nose them. I’d make. I did do that. I know you did. I know you did. It was good for giving people rides. 

Yeah. You and I were roommates for a couple of years. At least a year. 

Yeah. At eight thirty three was Newport. 

Eighty nine. 

And yeah, we knew some other people at Jim O’Hare who actually agreed to pay me twenty dollars every time I mentioned his name on the podcast. You wouldn’t think he would need the money. 

He’s doing some sitcom again too from Parks and Rec. Your mohair I just read. He’s got a nice project going for himself. Very talented. Funny friend. 

Yeah. Who’s in the class ahead of us. Players will just name was Billy Murray. 

Bill Murray came through many years before we did it. Yeah. 

Yeah. I would never let us forget. Oh. Like he wrote on his picture. Thanks for letting me paint your kitchen or something. I think he painted her kitchen for free classes. 

Yeah. Scholarship for study. Yeah. Player. And it was like I feel like James Lipton from the Eggplant Actor’s Workshop. It was during this period that you discovered Slinky man. 

Blinky Man was a sketch raised to dance with a slinky, wearing a Speedo and a nice shirt that was tied around my top huge favorite and Jake favorite in Chicago. 

Haven’t done it dance. But yeah, it was a big one and a mask. 

I always admired your lack of inhibition and your self-conscious willingness to shame myself for a laugh. 

Yeah. Oh yeah. No doubt. 

It was funny though. It was. And the other thing, of course, that was a huge favorite that the early Matt Walsh fans know about was the Teamsters Pompa Chopard Show. 

No, that’s a classic. And how does that come about? 

Oh, I don’t know. Teamsters Children’s Puppet Theater. You did some of those with us, didn’t you? 

Well, we were in, like, my best of blue collar. Are you guys did the best of blue collar art show? Yeah, we probably did bids. 

I think so, yeah. Your character folded in nicely. 

Teamsters Children’s Puppet Theater was just a comment on, like, you know, the way that Teamsters hilariously sometimes like. Nowhere the good sandwiches are and they know how to sneak a nap, and it’s like stereotyping Teamsters as the premise and Teamsters are great people and they they work hard. 

Of course. Yeah. Yeah. 

I remember the show stopped in the middle of the show over coffee breaks, lunch break mandatory. 

Yes. Yes. It was probably from working with my dad’s company that I experienced all of it, different union trades because like I worked for a year before I did comedy full time was basically ninety five or ninety six. When I finally. Did a poll that, let’s say ninety four was my first full time comedy job. Before that, I worked at my dad’s company for a year and they had like every trade, they had the plumber trades, they had the electricians, the riggers, they had the millwrights. So it’s an interesting world. You know, these are career people who were journeymen and study a lot and take tests to become experts at their various fields. And it’s just it’s an interesting world to be in the middle of because there is like and the same with acting as you get into acting in the various trades in the acting world, you know, where you’re allowed to work and where you were. You have to let someone else turn that light bulb or unplug that machine like it’s very specific and it’s set up. 

So people have jobs and, you know, expertize gets the rain in various departments. 

So me my uncle was a truck driver for Jewel in Chicago. Yeah. So, yeah, we knew a lot of people. We both worked at Continental Foods. 

That was a crazy there wasn’t one. You wrote me into many jobs. That job was a nighttime shift that we had g.g God rest his soul. 

My buddy from college or high school E and I and you were Halit driving pallet jacks through a giant Rosemont warehouse. I was a manager, our manager. 

You were giving us delivery sheets, the bus the trucks would wait for. And I would say like we need 50 pallets of flour and liquor pickers and we would go into the shelves, this giant warehouse, and like there was a talent to it. You had to, like, load up and then shrink wrapped that pallet and then shove it on the truck. 

Although we did have a problem there because it was announced during my tenure in middle management that the place was going to shut down. 

So people were very unhappy. And that’s why scabs like yourself and George Tex came in and picked up some of the slack as some of these people were had to go find other jobs. 

So there’s a transition team for shutting down the warehouse. But it was weird working the night shift to those the worst part of it. That’s a tough thing to adjust to. 

OK. So that’s the super early days. And then you meet. Matt Basser, Amy Poehler and Ian Roberts. And what happens? How did you meet those guys anyway? 

I met Buster doing standup. And you were around then place? Probably the Roxy. We used to do stuff at the Roxy. People like Jimmy Pardo were there. And then Emo Phillips and Judy Tenuta had kind of put that club on the map. 

And the owners, Pat. And what was the woman? Betty Payton, Betty, great mom and pop club and the guys from White Noise and early people like Christine Zander and Mark Nutter. 

So there was a lot there was a real comedy community at this place called the Roxy. And I feel like I met Bestor there and Open Mike Koenen for Coning came through one year when the writers were on strike. And so they all spent their summer in Chicago, like Schmeichel and and other writers, and do a show. 

And then Amy and Ian, Amy and Ian came in a little later. 

So Beston, I would make videos. He had a camera and we would shoot stuff in Chicago and do stuff at the union. 

We would co-host. I did mostly character stuff. 

And then I was doing standup in the tri state area because there was a boom in the 90s, early 90s, probably 1990, where anybody with five minutes could go to Wisconsin and get paid hundreds of dollars or go to Michigan. Right. 

Up was really me standing, although. Yeah, we did. 

Yeah, we did. 

That’s how desperate people clubs were. Because I think I headline that Gagen. Sure. I didn’t have enough. 

I had no beds. I had line once and I had no business doing it. I brought Adam McKay and Buster to fill out the show and it was just not super professional. 

They put you up ahead of your time. Adam McKay, Shame’s director. 

Adam McKay, famous Oscar winner for the script. He writes, directing. Yeah. He was back in Chicago back in the day in our apartment many times. 

It was a great comedy. It still is a great comedy town for like up and coming talent, acting and writing talent. 

So it is I think it is because there’s many reasons. One reason I like the comedy universe centered around Second City for so long. So people just moved to Chicago because they knew about Second City. 

But there’s also these other theaters like the Goodman and Steppenwolf and Logit Theater remains. 

All these people like Kevin Dunn and Gary Cole, like these real legit actors who were ahead of me when I started after college. 

But there’s a real there’s real roots for the institutions that teach it and perform it. And I think also it’s affordable. I think the storefront theater and the sort of like in the way they started Steppenwolf there, I guess you kids, and they came Chicago and bought a storefront or rented it, and then you could put on whatever you wanted to, I think. And there’s an audience that supports theater in Chicago. There’s a lot of cities that don’t necessarily support life theater. And I think there’s a lot of patrons of the arts in Chicago. So there’s it’s like a perfect blend. But I think it’s. Comedy and drama do really well there, and I think because it’s like a. I always felt like it was working class. And you can take risks there and you can treat it like a laboratory and sort of learn your craft before you go to the big marketplace, which would be L.A. or New York. 

And is it fair to say, because Chicago is not that level big market place for TV and movies, that people were there more in it for the hour and the development as opposed to be seen by somebody? 

I think definitely the stakes were lower. I think there was a lot more experimental and risk taking because it wasn’t like they were casting agents in the audience or they were like agent agents in the audience where people or Lorne Michaels wasn’t in the audience because that and contaminate the spirit of the work prematurely. You know, obviously it’s necessary. You have to be seen to get find success. But that stuff didn’t really contaminate the work in Chicago so much. You more working for the I think, the respect of your peers and, you know, like I tried to make like any comic you try to make your buddies in comedy laugh like that really meant a lot to me. 

Yeah. I remember I we were when you got a you were living with a bunch of guys up on Orlistat at one point and everybody knew about Jerry Lewis and Milton Berle and Nipsey Russell and, you know, all these people who had done all kinds of stuff for the several decades. And it was a time when you really sort of discovering your craft. 

Yeah. Yeah, you’re finding your voice and like, it’s very so valuable, like just you did stand up forever. You got to have your time on the boards in front of an audience. There’s nothing that replaces that. 

And so I think Chicago, again, is. Dupere inducive to that that experimental that hard work, that affordable and that audience base that you can pull into a room to watch your art. 

Yeah. And people in people should know that people like you who find success later on, that it took them years to do on that other stuff to get to the point. 

Yeah, I got my SAG card in ninety four for a true value hardware commercial. So I’ve been a working actor basically since then. I also started touring with Second City and never had to have a real job since then. But yeah. And then moved to New York in ninety six with Matt and, and Amy to try to get a TV show. And in 98 we opened a theater in New York Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, because we were already teaching classes and doing shows in New York. And theaters in New York are not friendly to little groups from Chicago. They don’t let you leave your props and they make you bring 20 people and they make you pay for your tack and they make you know. 

So we found a clubhouse and decided, well, let’s take all these people that we’re teaching and let’s give them showtimes and slots and give them tech for free. And we tried to make like a working class model of like five dollar tickets and then free shows on Sundays. And that was sort of. The clubhouse we opened, that was the UCB Theater, which was an old strip club that Mayor Giuliani had shut down. 

We got the show being shot at. 

At that point, we made a pilot in ninety seven or ninety eight, something like that. And then we got our first season order in 98. 

Same year we got the theater and that did that. 

So it makes sense. Take off from the theater and for you guys. Well, a little bit more. 

It did. It helped us, but we worked hard. We were doing both like we would do filming six days a week or so, five days a week, and then Saturdays and Sundays we were doing shows at UCB Theater and we would film the shows, the improv shows, because we needed ideas for sketches. 

So we would call the tapes for concepts for our sketch show. So our improv show was feeding our sketch show. 

Oh, great. Yeah, well, that’s good. I mean, you probably didn’t have time to do two completely distinct sets of new creation every week. 

Well, the first season, much like a rock band, was a compilation of all the sketches and things we toured and honed in front of a live audience. So by the time we got to New York, we brought two shows with us. Punch Your Friend in the face and bucket of truth. There were their names and then we had another one called ASKAP, which was our improv show. So once we got our first season, a lot of that stuff was bits that we had tried in front of an audience, whether downtown at Luna, there was like this alternative comedy room that we plugged into and we would do a bit every week, which was like a variety standup. 

Then you. 

So the second season, we were filming everything, and that’s what helped us write our second and third. 

And right off the bat, I mean, you’re getting people who are coming to your classes and stuff and going out and making their own way. I talk about some of the people who have been, quote unquote, discovered through UCB. 

It was literally like going to a Third World country and having, like, bubble gum and like cigarets like date. Nobody had seen long form improv in New York in ninety six for real. We were doing what was called long form improvization based on the Harold Del Close, you know. 

So what is a format for people? 

Harold is like a structured improv improv where you get a word and then you basically do a forty five minute play from that word. And the structure of it is an opening where you sort of free associate off of the. The question then, you do three separate scenes. Then you do another game. Like a group game where you sort of explore the theme, then you return to those three scenes for a second beat. Then you do another game group game where you just sort of cleanse the pilot with a good group game, whatever. And then the final scene are final three, three scenes return again for a third, a second beat and a third beat. If that makes sense, they’re revisiting three scenes deck and stage, third stage. And then you’re sort of looking for ways the scenes can connect in surprising ways. 

Yeah, and a great explanation, but that is what the Herald this is at Chicago Creation. Yeah, that’s like a closed an early second city in the committee and. It was very, very cool, very cool structure. And then what we were doing, ask catus, basically like a montage where you get a monologist, they get a suggestion, they tell stories, and then you sort of deconstruct elements of their stories or use bits of it or scene ideas, premises or half a scene idea. And then you use all that information to use a very loose format and riff off of that and explore. 

Yeah, yeah, yeah. We used to laugh in the standup world. 

We used to laugh and say improv is dead, but it never was really. But. I’ve always been a fan of you guys because. 

I mean, first of all, you would find funny stuff to do with these ideas, but groups that are good at this and have worked together for a long time can really find some just fantastic and fun things to do. 

And the speed at which ideas can get heightened and written in front of you is impressive. 

Like really agile minds or people doing it well, the way they can heighten even the physicality of like all a sudden everybody’s forming like a dragon and, you know, they’re all linked together and they’re make they’re mocking a dragon or something. 

I’m always impressed with the sort of group mind that comes out of the long form of super wide breadth of creative. 

Yeah. Yeah. 

Yeah, anything that you are, you can bring to that stage, UCB is a great stepping stone for yourself and others. So that gives you some personal profile and other things start happening in New York. You did the comedy to The Daily Show. 

I did. I got hired on The Daily Show. Guy Rich Charism, I knew from Comedy Central Star show was our Show US TV show was on Comedy Central. 

And this guy Rich cause them had me do a couple segments for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and they liked my segments and offered me a contract for a year or whatever year and a half. And I did that for like a year, year and a half. Right around 9/11, which was a weird time. 

So I was there when 9/11 happened and I was living in the city and that was like. 

Crazy, tragic, and I remember going into work and Jon Stewart gave this really moving, wonderful speech that, you know, smart, good leader. And he was like, everybody OK? Just want to make sure we’re all good. And Letterman was the first one to go back. And I think Stewart came right on his heels and did his show on Thursday. And UCB did shows like two days later. And it was weird because everything in New York just felt like everything was through the lens of like, this isn’t the same world we’re living in. It was so tragic. And it was. I think I was depressed for a year because there were men with guns on every corner. 

Now the FBI was there and the military apparatus was there and there was still digging out bodies and there was no toxic smoke ever. 

It was a rough, rough year. But The Daily Show helped me like, you know, work through that, basically. 

And does the how do you deal that material wise? I mean, do people addressing it onstage? 

Yeah. Well, what’s funny is you can make a joke about St. Patrick’s Day and somehow people would think you’re commenting on 9/11. You really mean like everything you saw? 

The audience was just so raw and they could make a connection to the tragedy of 9/11, so I remember literally watching the first show and like everything people said was like, oh, my God. That just reminds me of 9/11. I think that was the process of getting away from it is like doing. Yes, people did comment on it, but a lot of it, like The Daily Show stuff I remember was like a lot of us finding Osama bin Laden. That was the first year. And the war in Afghanistan imports or abortion on a lot of stuff about that. So I think a lot of the comedy was around and also the nature of like Coach Scarlet, Code yellow, it’s like I can’t be more fucking alert. 

Like it was the insanity of homeland security not helping the issue. You’re already free. 

Yeah, I’m already fucking on edge. What do you need me to be Scarlett for? 

I mean, there were great people on that show. Other who else was on the show while you were there? 

Well, when I was there was Kolber and Carol were already there and Nancy Walls and Mo Rocca was my sweet maid. And Lance generous was just leaving. And I took his office over. He was a nice guy and acquisition. Lewis Black was around. He took me around. 

And I remember opening for him once of standups. He’s a great guy. A wonderful dude. 

Said, Yeah, I live with Lewis Black. Oh, my God. 

I was like that. He was doing like I think it was called Truth Lies and Lewis Black. 

And I was like the science commentator or something on any wacky stuff. 

Also overlapped a little bit with like Audrey and Helms. They came in right when I was leaving Rob Corddry. 

And it was at around. Did you shoot Star Chewton movies and did you do Martin an all often? 

Yeah. Did Martin and all laugh right around that time. Yeah. Right before I started The Daily Show. And then we did a bit part in Road Trip right around that era and things started picking up in the movie world. 

For me, I was looking here. I mean, I turned to pay attention to her a little bit. 

That’s OK. 

I was surprised. Look at all these credits. I mean, there were times out here when I was going to send you a bowl of soup or something, but you had been hustling, brother saw. 

Yeah, I talked about a couple of the other movies you’ve done. I mean, you did little movie. 

Oh. Into the Storm movie. Well, that was like out here. 

But yeah, I’ve got to play an action hero and a storm chaser in a movie called Into the Storm, where I have this kick ass vehicle that supposedly can drive inside a tornado into the eye of the storm and shoot it as all these like rotating, oscillating cameras in various wind instruments and barometric pressure, barometric pressure devices on it, any monster truck. They felt a real heavy duty that. It was amazing. Yeah, it was amazing. So I got to do in rent run through fire and rain, it was cool. I did that and I did like being sure I’ve done. I was an old school and. Road trip L. Starsky and Hutch, lot of Todd Phillips stuff. 

Hangover Tasos is a famous director. Yeah, you’re from those New York days. 

Yeah. Not Phillips came. He directed Road Trip and then went on to do old school and made the hangover. 

He’s very sick. 

And as Adam McKay is kind of. 

And then Adam, I did a couple of Adam’s movies. Yeah. I got to do a couple bit parts in Adam’s movies. Yeah. 

And did you meet our friend Scott Armstrong? 

Well, Scott was a rock. Yeah, Scott’s a big Bears fan. We’re not talk about the Bears. 

I know, but he’s a buddy. And he wrote a road trip with us that Phillips. And Scott and I started hanging out at UCB. 

Drinking late nights at the bar. 

McManus And then you chat a couple of your own movies to Higher Road, huge movie. A lot of famous character just isn’t just. 

We had a wonderful cast and highroad. It’s out there somewhere, but a pot dealer. S go on the run. 

Rob Riggle. Joe, truly, Joe Helms is in that abbey. And then I did another movie called A Better You, which is like Brian Huskey and Nick Krall does a small part. 

Adam Pally, Andy Daly. 

It’s a good little also another, but I like doing improvised movies where you have your outline and you know your story, but the actual dialog is not written. 

So you get on the day and the actors which can which works if you bring the right people in, you wouldn’t do that with like straight actor types, you know. You use improv people for that. 

I pick people who know what improvise. Yeah. 

And of course, in a better you. 

One of the more famous shooting locations was my house in Los Angeles. I think the script. Thank you. 

Low level, dilapidated structure. They walk up to. 

No, it did not just that Horacio plays a character who befriends me and he sort of teaches me or teaches Bryant sorry, teaches the hero, Brian Huskey, how to fix his life. And then at some point, Brian shows up at his house. Who was your house? And the guys, it was like that awkward moment came in like. I’ll come to your house. But don’t come into my world. 

There is a line here is a line here. 

Yeah, I always love that theme. And all this leads to eventually, Zeeb. How did you get the veep job? 

Veep came up through an audition. My agent sent me a script written by our mannarino chief who did the thick of it. And he also did Alan Partridge. He’s like a very celebrated. And in the loop celebrated British writer, comedian. And I knew of him. 

And I’m like, I gotta get in on this. So I had like a series of audition. 

Went through the four auditions to get it. You know, just keep going. 

And Julia Louis-Dreyfus was attached to it from the beginning. 

It was so I got to meet her second audition and then the third. And then the fourth. 

Howard Stern questioned. I was the biggest jerk on the set. 

Biggest jerk. 

I don’t think we knew you were going to say that such a cop out answer. 


I was at an event or two with the Veep Cassa. They all seem like really nice people there. Gary called stuff Allen Theater. Julie Letterman. 

I haven’t done Julia’s great Tony Suite. Ms. You know, Eminem is great. Yeah. Reed, I’m sure you’ve met. 

You’re gonna feel lucky to be in with a group of people that’s like seems so decent to work with. 

I think to the creator, Armando made a point. And I think you made a point of, like, not picking any jerks. I think you vibe someone after, like, three or four times in the room, like what you’re gonna get. 

I think. You’re sort of vibing. No problems. You’re putting it out there. I don’t want any. 

It’s never worth it to have like talent, but also have to deal with the tornado of personality. Like, it doesn’t fail unless you’re Marlon Brando. It just doesn’t balance out as it’s like at the end of the day, just wanted to be efficient. You want to be professional? 

I think people don’t realize how small any business is. But entertainment, especially if people talk like you’re your AIDS, is going to remember if you’re like a nightmare. 

Then your aides will see the director and auditions like, dude, I just want to let you know, I worked with this person on the last thing and they were not good. It was a nightmare. It costs so much time just to get them out of their trailer and get them ready and spread this fast over the whole other just sort of saying it in confidence. 

But it travels goes everywhere, you know. 

Yeah. I mean, it’s worth knowing that you did someone could throw a wrench into the whole rest of this collaborative effort. Yeah. Well, Jeep, of course, deals with politics. And this has been a crazy time over the last year with Bill Markle’s them orange Hitler. 

Does that does come up on the set or does it come up in the material or. 

It’s hard to parody. 

It is hard to parody. It’s. Been said many times that keeps that out to be like, you know, absurd fiction, and now it’s a sobering documentary. 

Like, many absurd things were pitched in the room. And lo and behold, they happen in real life. And this particular president and his underlings are just insane and. 

Wheatly, an anomaly. What’s decent and democratic, I think. 

And so it is difficult to mirror what’s happening. But I do think like Season seven, Veep, it’s a pure fiction. You don’t know what party Selina’s in, Democratic or Republican. But I think some of what’s happening now in D.C. has bleep his blood into our storylines. 

Bye bye. The final season, it has sort of come full circle and we have sort of commented on it like last night. 

There was a. Easing out of like Chinese hackers getting involved in an election. 

I mean, that’s sort of relevant, obviously. 

Do you think the writers felt a sort of. Obligation to get some of that stuff? 

Yeah, I think you can’t. It’s never like law and order where it’s ripped from the headlines or like relevant like there’s no I don’t think we reference the president past Reagan. Maybe we maybe we do. But I don’t think we do. So there’s like this pure timeline that splits from reality after that. And you never see, like, Wolf Blitzer walked through our set. So there’s like this pure bubble that we try to protect. 

But every year there’s like a circular line of experts, pundits going into the writers room, sitting down for an hour. D.C. types assistance, former senators, former like presidential candidates, and they just download the veep writers. 

Want to know what, Dave? Man down. Guys, what? They want to know everything. What’s this? What’s this about? Because they already have an idea what the show is going to be for that season. Dave has it is that he kind of carries it book lyrically, but their impact like somebody else. They had Mitt Romney and three years ago because he lost an election. And the minute you lose, you lose your Secret Service detail and you’re just a regular stiff. And there must be something unique about that. And so Season six was about Selina being a regular citizen and setting up her library. So the show reflects all the research that happens every season, even though the storyline has been mapped out. But there are things that come up every year with these experts. They talk to like, oh, they’d be a good senior, that’s actually worth an episode or pitching ideas. And then I think Dave carries it in his head. Amazing. Like, you’ll tell me a story about your uncle who did politics in Chicago. 

It’s always the good real stories that end up being in the show. It’s not like could we create a fake thing? It’s like, no, I want to know a story where this actually happened. Like they had one where Obama’s team, I think, showed up at Iowa City. With the plane and the they were campaigning, the campaign plane landed in Iowa City. But it was supposed to be Iowa Rapids or Salt Lake was literally a different town. So they got off the plane, they’re like, welcome, Iowa City. 

The crowd, yeah. 

And that was ripped from the Obama campaign team. And that is in our low and behold. That was an hour. He’s in this year, for example. 

Series is over now. Must have been a bittersweet end to. 

Yeah, December was the last time we shot. And last night? No. 

Or is that the last three left left? You’re all going to be together? No, no. We have the movie. 

You know, shoot the movie. There’ll be a movie in a few years. I think we have a New York trip. There’s a lot of press still. We’re gonna be Uncle Barington and a lot of you think. 

Then we have these like Emmy campaign panels where they’ll show an episode or two and then they’ll be a Q&A with the cast afterwards. So there’s a few things on the books. Then we’re going to go like. 

Then a week or weekend up by Julius Place, I think for a night. We have a lot of stores. I just not only his wife. 

We’re very social. So that should be fun. Yeah. Well, weekend is that can we. What’s her dress thinking? You know, I might be free that weekend. 

You’re not invited. You’re not a cast member. 

No cast members only. OK. Yeah. All right. So you’re in the public figure now. Talk a little bit about your social media presence and how careful are you with. I don’t want to get into political correctness and all that stuff, but it’s a different world. 

It is. I’ve I’ve actually contemplated like racing my Twitter history. I haven’t done it yet. I have friends who have done it. 

I don’t know. But yeah, you do have to be careful. And I’m trying to be. Conscious. But I don’t. Fortunately, I don’t do it a lot, so I’m not. Constantly, like having to like. 

Scrutinize a tweet before it goes out like. I’m pretty lazy about it, though. That’s the good news. But you do have to be very careful because things. We misinterpret it or you can hypos something or, you know, it’s just a lot of us. 

Is there somebody run stuff by like I tell my wife, I said, how stupid does this look? 

Or is it time in my life? My wife, Morgan, or like I have a publicist when I’m in season a couple few months, a year, I have a publicist and I’ll say, can I say this? 

Because sometimes you don’t want to, like, put a photo out that reveals a spoiler or something or. Can I talk about this episode or this actor who was in this episode? Can I reveal that this. You know, like there’s stuff like that. 

And then I’m not super politically active on social media, mostly because I don’t know how much it changes. 

But I am I am engaged certainly big enough just being active in general. I mean, you have you do things for charities. There’s a couple of charity things you’re involved with. You might talk about that a little bit. 

Sure, I do one thing called the Awesome Foundation, which I’m really proud of for about ten years now. 

There’s a group of ten friends we meet in a bar once a month and we get these grants submitted to Awesome Foundation L.A. And anybody listening just go to Awesome Foundation dot org, slash L.A. You fill out a form and then the winner gets one hundred bucks each from the ten members of this circle of friends. 

And we fund an idea. 

The only criteria is like, does the idea make Los Angeles more awesome? 

So it’s a worldwide organization. There’s like 60 or unheard of these Berlin, London, Chicago, they’re all over the lot. 

The L.A. one we fund, like a lot of community gardens, like some of these pop up, like somebody will teach kids how to draw cartoons and then also provide like breakfast cereal at this pop up event in underprivileged neighborhoods. We built like a Pinewood Derby track for a local community and they can roll it out every year now. 

So we do a lot of stuff like that. 

We do like art supplies for underfunded public schools. 

So it can be anything like it could be like putting a swing somewhere that never had a swing before or like this time I think we sent five blind kids to camp 100 bucks each for five kids to go to a camp that were blind, just put them on a bus somewhere over funding events. 

I think it’s a daytime camp. I don’t think they’re sleeping over. 

But so there’s things like that or there’s like homeless projects or there’s one thing where there’s an art project or they’re going to build a shower that will travel through L.A. and regular public is supposed to just go in the shower and sing and the way that people sing in the shower to free them up. 

But it’s like an art exhibit. So there’s fun stuff, too. 

I just want to make sure the blind kids have chaperons and that they know what’s supposed to be happen. 

There’s no strings attached. 

Once you win the money, you can do whatever you want, but generally people use it so they can be out like picking straw. Yeah. 

OK. No, that’s a great idea. I’ve seen some of the projects on the. People are super creative and they come up with great fun. 

Somebody submitted one for Squat Mill that’s happening at the old CFI. 

So they’re still doing a show outside the old CFI. 

These comedians meet. Oh, you’re kidding. No. Tuesday night or whatever night the old show was. And they do. And lot. Yeah. Oh, they do an outdoor show. Oh, that’s fantastic. 

Well, they haven’t touched the building yet, so I’m glad somebody is using it for something. 

Yeah, I think they’re downstairs in that outdoor courtyard. 

All is where they do their show because there’s an awning over that, right. Yeah. Yeah. That’s where they do their show. But it’s just an outdoor show where they just kept it going. 

It’s supposed to be locked. So I drive. Well, I don’t know. But I know where they are. Yeah. Drive by. There’s some weeknight. That’s one of the week nights. Oh that’s hilarious. Yeah. This old Steve Allen theater alive. And yeah. 

This guy, Howard Kramer, who I know is sort of the center of. 

Oh yeah. That’s a great idea. Yeah. And then your other group is that the turkey bird is based on Defy Ventures is another charity I’m involved with. 

We do this golf outing that you participate in and we raise money and awareness for a group called Defy Ventures and they basically teach inmates who have served their time how to transition back into a capitalist democratic society, teach them job skills, give them education, give them diplomas or Didi’s equivalences, teach him how to interview, give them a little money, maybe to buy a suit when they get out and also line them up with mentors, people who have made it on the outside and what they what I’ve done twice now, I’ll do it a third time as you go on these field trips to maximum security prisons. 

And while you do these retreat exercises where it’s like ice breakers are getting to know people, but they are. 

Illustrate the trends in criminal prosecution in this world, basically. 

One of the exercises is called Cross the Line or step over the line and you line up. 

Here’s the civilians on one side and here’s like the inmates on the other side and your cross from someone. 

How many people have done something illegal? Everybody raise your hands. How many people were arrested for doing something illegal? Then you start to realize, like, oh, if you’re male and you’re a person of color, you’re more likely to have a criminal record. And if you’re poor. 

And if you haven’t. And then how many people have two parents? Only Bill of one parents. How many people had no parents? 

So it sort of humanizes the stories of life because nobody wants to deal with people in prison. We just want to sweep it under the rug and the way that we sort of sweep old people under the rug as they get older. 

And so it humanizes them. And it also teaches you that, like. 

I’ve done vandalism, I’ve driven drunk. I’m not proud of these things. And I was never arrested. Thank God. But I could have a criminal record. I’ve smoked weed. I’ve had drugs on me. And yet I’ve never had a criminal record in some of these things. 

If you do the same offense and you’re in an inner city community and you’re of color in your mail, probably you’re going to get pulled over and you probably never know. 

And and you actually have a great example of this from the Chicago days. Tell the story about driving around and bump in the back of the car in front of two groups of guys in two different cars. 

Doug and I are driving. 

This guy, Doug Moats and I were driving to White Castle late night and it was 2:00 in the morning, a snowy Chicago day. And I’m following him and we’re playing games with our cars. Nothing dangerous. But at stoplights, I would bump into his back bumper. And then at the next stoplight, he would be in front of me and he would back up into me. And then at one stoplight, I wasn’t behind him, but it was a cop car and he backed into the cop car. 

He thanked them, friendly thinking it was you. And then the fucking lights went on and he had to pull over. 

And he was like a little tipsy. 

And he talked himself out of the ticket. It bumped a police car. Yeah. But he sort of like a clean cut looking guy in white. 

White helps. So I think so, unfortunately. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. That’s a that’s a great example. I hope that that could happen somewhere with a person of color in the world. Yeah, I would hope so too, because I would hope that the chances are better now that that stuff is sort of going away. 

Yeah. Is it evolving a little bit with all the awareness? 

I don’t know. I think so. I feel like diversity in police forces helps. 

People who are diverse, too, like if you have ethnic people of ethnic backgrounds administering the laws. I think they’re going to be more understanding to other ethnic people. That’s my hope. Yeah, because in the old days and it was more like all Irish. 

One Catholic. Yeah. In the 20s. Well, they’re getting Al Capone. And Prohibition was all in your scrubs because they didn’t have other jobs. 

The Italians were so unjustly maligned in those days because they were suspected of being mafia because of the Irish all or prejudice against the Italian mafia guys. 

Was it just the Irish? I don’t know if it was all Irish and maybe Al Capone wasn’t such a bad guy. 

That’s all I’m saying. The Irish just painted him in a bad light. 

Well, let’s talk about the one actual CFI human. Is that really? Oh, we’re shoehorning into this interview. 

And that is when you met your wife. Morgan was an actress and also kind of an activist and a businesswoman, very interesting, capable person. 

When you guys got married. You didn’t get married in a church. Why not? Tricia, I was raised Catholic. I don’t really go to church anymore, but I think we won. 

And Morgan was not raised religious. And I knew that you had done celebrated mass or celebrated weddings before. 

And I think we both talked about our vows being unique to us. We want to write our own vows. 

And I think we’d already probably use you for Jude’s baptism in the backyard at this point. I think you did one of our baby naming our baby name. Yeah. So we kind of like. 

We had the hippie. We had a hippie baptism and then we had three baptisms for our kids, mostly to appease my parents because they’re Catholic. 

And so but the real ceremonies that we enjoyed were the ones in the backyard. 

You celebrated a couple of them. So the wedding, we already had a kid before we got married. And so we weren’t like a traditional couple. 

I was like 40 already. So I didn’t care about my parents, you know, being appeasing them. And they understood. 

So long story short, we wanted a homemade ceremony that meant something to us. So it was like, who was there? We knew you. You’re a good friend. I wanted you celebrating it. And then we picked one Bible verse. I can’t remember who read it. 

And then the other readings were, I think, like Rumi or, you know, we talked about different things for people to read. And then the songs were Kyle Gas from Tenacious D and his friends played songs that weren’t religious. 

They were like Dylan and Coldplay. 

You know, it just meant something to you. Yeah. 

Meaningful to us, I think was the purpose of that wedding. It’s the people assembled, like obviously all the family was there in all the dear friends were there, but also like things that meant something to us weren’t part of the ceremony. 

Was there any blowback from any of that that No one. So where is the priest? Why are we in a church? 

No, not really. You know. 

It’s funny because it was sort of Bairo like the weddings I’ve gone to that I don’t like. My sister got married in a Catholic church, which isn’t necessarily a bad wedding, but she was like way at the front. 

Acoustics were terrible. 

It might have even been like it might as well. But in Latin, like nobody knew what was going on. It was just so impersonal that I knew after being in many like church weddings, I knew what I wanted out of a wedding. I wanted to be personable and understandable and have it be, you know, that college community is like you all realize that when people get married, they’re going to reach out to you for help. 

And you are here witnessing that this couple may need your help or we will. You know, we sense each other’s kids. Building community, I think, is what’s important with that ritual. And it’s also milestones like hopefully you’ll never be married again. And this is my partner for life. 

So important day, an important day. 

And it’s all. It’s also great for like your aunts and uncles, they love weddings because they get to see the other family members, like there’s multi, multi levels that the wedding serves. 

I wonder if what you guys paid mostly for your own wedding. Right. I wonder if it changes for people who are like, you know, the if if if someone’s paying for like that comes with strings attached. 

I think so. I would think so. If your dad is paying for your wedding and he asks, can you please have a priest say the service? I think you say, yeah, of course that yeah. 

Even for an atheist. 

Well, no, maybe not. If it’s really going to go against your core beliefs. 

And no, you probably wouldn’t acquiesce. You’d probably say, I don’t buy into that. 

It’s more not part of my. Yes, it’s part of my world now. Did you have what was your service with Carmen? 

My friend Rob did it. OK. No orbital. 

The restaurant up there. Yeah, Yamashiro. Yeah. And what were the vows? 

I’m reminding you, I was just vows and we wrote our own vows, too. And, you know, it was. 

Did you break the glass underfoot? 

No. What we did was nod to the Jewish tradition. We thought about that. But actually, I did that in my first wedding. But that’s another story. 

What we did with the ceremony was we had a we call it the experiment, and we mixed two different chemicals. 

Yeah, I remember. Yes, I remember that blew in. 

So there were two different color chemicals. And when they were poured into each other and don’t ask me how I figured out what chemicals to use, it was like potash or something like that. 

And then when you poured them together, it made a third color representing the new union. That’s right. 

Let’s say that was the symbolic moment. 

I remember that said very scientific. And then was it really science? It was kind of the details were lacking. There might have been a little has mad scare after the chemicals were combined. But I should have called a chemist for you to dump vinegar, baking soda. It’s simple. Illustrate your point. There is one question that I know. The whole Center for Inquiry audience want me to ask. Who are your favorite Chicago bear players over the decades? 

Obviously, the 85 Bears were stacked with people like Jim McMahon, who I got to meet, obviously, Walter Payton. 

I’m excited about, you know, this kid, Khaleel Mack is a beast. I love her defense. 

Now, any old school players way back? 

I mean, of course, her locker. Hall of Famer Butkus, Hall of Famer Gale Sayers often mean. 

I don’t know who else. Those are the ones that come to mind. I mean, those are pretty big. OK. Natsui. Yeah, I could name a million favorites. 

That’s art. Yeah. Yeah. Well those are, that’s narrowed it down. I mean the bears have been around for almost a century now. 

Yeah. I have a gift from the Center for Inquiry that I want to present to you. No thank you. 

And this decorator’s that a Robert Forester letter opener. No. Yeah. Our our good friend Robert Forester gives out these really nice letter openers. 

This is a paperweight. I don’t know how much wind you have in your office, but wait, I want to read it. It says it’s got the old Center for Inquiry logo at the top. 

It says Center for Inquiry with our appreciation for your generous gift. 

And as I ran out of space, it was posed to say of comedy for all of Americans. 

Thank you, Matt Walsh. But it just says Generals’ gift. So there you go. 

So it’s like a lifetime achievement. It’s a lifetime achievement world from it’s not the atheist’s, something you probably would have mailed to donors. And you just said. I know. I know. That is a specific one of a kind of a kind of thing. I just. 

If I guess I guess I could have this stuff etched in around the edge, maybe like your name. 

This is a wonderful paper and a beautiful ball on there. 

Yeah. So thank you. Very kind of you. Thank you. Yeah. Well, thank you. Thanks for being on. And thanks for being a friend all these years. Thank you for being friends. 

Thank you for listening. Point of Inquiry is a production of the Center for Inquiry. The Center for Inquiry is a five a one, two, three charitable nonprofit organization whose vision is a world in which evidence, science and compassion rather than superstition, pseudoscience or prejudice guide public policy. You can visit us at point of inquiry. Oh R.G. there you can listen to all of piecewise archived episodes and support the show by clicking the support button on the site were available on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and your favorite podcast app of choice. Special thanks to Pamela Crosslin of Coastland Law, located in The Miracle Mile in Los Angeles. She does business and intellectual property law and helped us out with some of the valuable intellectual property information for this program. Thank you. And see you again in two weeks. 

Jim Underdown

Jim Underdown

Jim Underdown is executive director of Center for Inquiry–Los Angeles, and the founder of the Independent Investigations Group.