Matt Walsh is a two-time Emmy-nominated actor from HBO’s award-winning comedy series Veep. He can currently be seen in the comedy Unplugging, which he produced, co-wrote and stars in opposite Eva Longoria. He is one of the UCB 4, the founding members of the famed national improv-sketch comedy theatre Upright Citizens Brigade. In addition to his film and TV work, Walsh is a charitable founder with his wife Morgan of Gender Nation, which puts LGBTQ-affirming books in elementary schools around the country, and also organizes the Turkey Bird Classic, an annual golf charity tournament which benefits Defy Ventures, an organization helping formerly incarcerated people “transform their hustle,” teaching them life skills, providing education and mentorship that gives them a second chance. Walsh currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife Morgan Walsh and their three children.
Three Great Things is Talkhouse’s series in which artists tell us about three things they absolutely love. To mark the current release in theaters and on VOD of Unplugging, a new comedy drama starring Matt Walsh, Eva Longoria, Keith David and Lea Thompson, comedian-actor Walsh (who also co-wrote the film) shared some of the things that matter most to him in life. — N.D.
During the pandemic, when we were all quarantined and going crazy just looking for things to do, I built a chicken coop and started raising chickens. I have no history whatsoever with farm life or raising animals. I’m a city kid. We’ve had dogs, but I’ve never previously had any kind of farm animal, or had any interest in owning one. But during the early days of the pandemic, this was something I became curious about, a way to occupy my time.
It’s neat to have a tiny farm in my backyard that I get a couple of eggs from every day. It makes me feel like everything’s going to be OK. It gives me a sense of control. I also like the farm work involved in owning chickens. You have to get outside, throw the chickens some food, let them out. I bring the dog, who likes to make sure there are no raccoons or rats looming, trying to get in the cage. Even though we live in a suburban neighborhood, it feels like we’re out on a farm. I like the ritual of getting up early and the quietness of being up and outside before everyone else. It’s very restive and centering. I’ve been fortunate that my youngest daughter has also taken to it and likes to help me. At night, she’ll close down the coop and lock the chickens up. And when they don’t lay their eggs in the hutch, she’ll help me find where they’ve hidden them around the yard. I like the time that we get to spend together doing that.
Comedy is a late-night profession, so it’s not typical to be a morning person when you’re in the business. But the pandemic changed that. Because I have kids, I was getting up early anyways, but now I’m up even earlier, around 6 a.m., so I can take care of the chickens, have a cup of coffee and take in the morning a little bit. It’s nice.
Being up that early has also afforded me time to do a little writing. Once I’m up and going, I can sit down and doodle some ideas or actually write for a bit before everyone wakes. And I like that as well. There’s great satisfaction in knowing you’re getting something done before anyone else has started their day, in tangibly doing a chore and feeling its rewards.
The Chicago Bears
I enjoy the Chicago Bears. I’m a big fan and I enjoy attending the games. I like going once or twice a year, especially if they come to L.A. It’s fun to get excited about their draft. Chicago is a very defensive-minded city, so it’s always interesting to see which incredible, nasty athletes they’ve got on the defensive side of the ball.
My connection to the Bears is very social. I have a few friends that I always travel with to see a few games every year. There’s also a tremendous Chicago fandom that has taken root in L.A.; we’re all Chicago transplants, and we find each other. Many of the guys in comedy that I’ve kept in touch with are big Bears, Bulls, Hawks fans, so we’ll either go to someone’s house to watch the game, or we’ll meet up at a game and tailgate together, or we’ll go in together and get a skybox. I’m also on a few too many text chains that are just doing bits about how the Bears are terrible.
I get down when the Bears can’t beat teams they’re supposed to beat or because of the awful play-calling that we’re stuck with, and it also makes me less likely to watch the game. Sometimes I might just listen to the fourth quarter or check in after the game’s over. If I know it’s going to be ugly, I’ll actually walk away from it and just tune in after to get the highlights and read about it. It means I can go to the beach with the family that day, as opposed to sitting on the couch or going to the local sports bar and watching the game. I think that’s healthy.
Making Eco-friendly Improvements to My House
I have a real concern for eco-friendly improvements and being green. I put solar panels on my roof and I enjoyed getting the supercharger on the wall for my car. I have a Kia Niro, which I love; it’s a mass-produced, consumer-grade Korean car that gives you 275 miles from one plug-in. California is always threatened by drought or wildfires, so lately I’ve been spending time dialing in my sprinkler system and trying to reduce my water usage. Saving water is really hard, but saving electricity is easy, because you can turn off lights or get an electric car or superinsulate the house, which I’ve also done. I haven’t gone to gray water yet, but I’m very curious about that. I’m also going to get a fireplace insert, which is a super efficient way to conserve heat in your house. This stuff is very nerdy.
We also just switched from chlorine to salt in our swimming pool, so it’s a little less harsh. Global warming is a big tide that we’re going to have to turn, but these little improvements at least give me a sense that I’m doing something. It might be just an illusion, but I do like spending my time researching and reading about these things and then implementing small improvements, like putting in drought-friendly grasses or installing compressed granite as opposed to having a huge lawn.
I’ve always tried to be a little eco-conscious. I always ask the kids not to leave lights on and tell them to go pee in our yard instead of flushing the toilet all the time. I’m always open to trying to find ways to help and I think it’s important, especially because I have kids. They read a lot of articles about the ice shelves melting and how many species we will have lost by 2030, and it’s very scary for them. So one way to combat that is to take agency. We have a little compost bin out by the chicken coop, and we recycle the hay from the chicken coop. Little improvements like that are baby steps that will hopefully help them continue down that path.