When Matt Walsh came to New York in 1996, he was an actor and a comedian just looking to make enough money to cover rent.
Today, Walsh is known as one of the founders of Upright Citizens Brigade and stars in the hit HBO show “Veep.” UCB has impacted a generation of comedians here in New York and Walsh still fondly remembers the early days of this grassroots comedy group.
“We got lucky here. This was pre-YouTube, so it was all word of mouth,” said Walsh in an interview with CBS Local. “We used to go to Tompkins Square Park to hand out flyers. We had a voicemail that we paid for in 1996 and you paid $15 per month for some guy to write down your messages. Getting word of mouth was the folkloric way to make a splash.”
Walsh and his friends went to bus stops, subway stations and parks all around New York to promote UCB. When the 54-year-old first came to New York, there was no home for sketch comedy.
“We built a theater where people can do shows for free, we’ll let you do tech for free and we’ll advertise the show for you,” said Walsh. “When we came to New York, that didn’t exist. We had trunks of props that we would lug on the subway and come home with them because you couldn’t leave them at the theater. You were like a vagabond. If you’re a kid and you want to study comedy, you can take classes and then there’s stage time and agents know about UCB.”
The UCB founder’s latest project is a movie he filmed in France called “Under The Eiffel Tower.” Walsh gets to work with his friends from “Veep” Reid Scott and Gary Cole and also gets to be in a romantic comedy for the first time.
“It was a fun challenge to make a romantic comedy,” said Walsh. “I personally loved digging into a genre I never made. There’s a moment in every romantic comedy when a person sees something in someone else that nobody else sees. I’m the average man that gives everyone else hope.”
“Under The Eiffel Tower” hits theaters Feb. 8 and will be released digitally on Feb. 12.