Veep’s Matt Walsh, who plays beleaguered press secretary Mike McLintock, is a sad sack on television and a comedy titan in real life. A founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, Walsh is the step-father of modern improve (Del Close was dad). And he’s not the only major comedy figure slouching toward D.C. on HBO’s anti-House of Cards. Paul Scheer, who plays fast-talking news producer Stevie, may be the most ubiquitous man in cult comedy. He’s been a regular on The League, Children’s Hospital, NTSF:SD:SUV, and Fresh Off the Boat. He also hosts, with his wife June Diane Raphael, the hit podcast How Did This Get Made?, which dissects questionable movie studio decision-making.
Both men are busy. Both men are hilarious. Both men are dads.
Do they have advice on multi-tasking while prioritizing family? Yes and no. Both Walsh and Sheer are self-deprecating to a fault. They thrive on Veep because they laugh at themselves. It was pretty clear from Fatherly‘s short conversation with the two comedians that they’re taking a similar approach to fatherhood.
You both have multiple kids. What advice do you have for dads that are doubling down?
Matt Walsh: With multiple kids, remind yourself to have an assembly-line mentality. Don’t make one kid a sandwich, make all three the same sandwich if you can get away with it. Don’t just give one hug, give all three kids a hug.
Paul Scheer: It’s going to be hard. Your entire life will change. But it’s the fucking best and it just gets better and better. Also, all the things you think you are missing out on will be there later and you’ll also realize you aren’t missing anything. Also, your wife is always right.
Also, your wife is always right.
What’s the hardest part of being a dad?
PS: Figuring out what psychological issues I want to imprint on my son that will make him wounded but still a really cool guy.
MW: It sounds petty, but the 25-minute-each shuttle-run to two schools every morning with three kids in the car, one in the front two in the back. The LA traffic is predictably unpredictable, there are fights over the radio, and I have to referee the occasional fisticuffs in the back seat between my two youngest while maintaining forward progress on the road.
Do you have any improv tips for getting uncooperative kids to say “yes and”?
PS: I think the best thing you can do is really try to have a conversation and explain your decision. If that doesn’t work, beg or bribe.
How about new parents more generally — any tips about making time for your partner in between your kids and your career?
MW: Put a date night on the calendar early and often. You will have to blow it off on occasion, but if you put it on the shared calendar you get points from your spouse for trying to keep the romance alive.
PS: After 4-6 months once you have “kinda” figured it out — and the initial shock has worn off. Make time for you and your partner. Try to go out once a week, I know it’s hard or expensive to pay for a babysitter but do it. You don’t even have to do anything crazy. Just go on a walk, take a drive, go to a bar, eat a slice of pizza. A healthy marriage makes better parents.
Who were parenting role models?
MW: My mother is my role model for parenting. She raised seven children who all grew into relatively well-adjusted adults. She ruled with common sense. If it doesn’t require a hospital visit, a band-aid and a treat will do, then get over it.
PS: Walter White. He took care of his family and made some great meth.
Do your kids care about comedy at all? If one of ‘em came up to you one day and said “Hey Dad, I’m gonna start an improv theater and training center,” what would you say?
MW: All my kids will sign a non-compete clause with UCB before they reach 18.
You’ve been working in comedy for a good while. How have you seen the form and culture change, for better or worse? What do you think it’ll look like in 10-20 years when your kids are all starring in their own HBO or Snapchat sitcoms?
MW: Diversity and tolerance have increased tremendously in the improv community. More women, more people of color, more varied sexual orientation. It’s great for comedy and it reflects America more accurately. As for where people will be watching comedy in 20 years, they may be guest stars in their home-made virtual reality sitcoms.