Innervouz w/ Matt Harris — Comedian Theo Westbest
Although many dreams come true in Hollywood, sometimes hearts are broken and young talent goes to waste. I’m making it my mission to find and interview young hopeful artists in Hollywood and find out what drives them to make art and how they intend to share it.
Last fall I was at an open mic at a laundromat in West Hollywood when I met Theo Westbest. He’s not a very tall man, but seemed to tower over everyone during his performance. I approached him after the show, and I asked him about his set. “Yeah, I seemed really tall right?” he said, “That’s one of my characters, the tall guy.” He told me that the best actors can seem both tall or short when necessary. I wanted to pick his brain further, so I looked him up and we sat down with a cup of coffee and had a nice chat.
Matt Harris: It’s great to see you again. What have you been up to?
Theo Westbest: I’ve been doing less open mic performances lately and focusing on audition performances.
MH: That’s great, what kind of auditions have you been going out for?
TW: Anything that I find. It’s not about what the role is; actually I’m not even trying to get the part. What I do is I audition as one of my characters. So I’ll go in front of the casting crew and do this character and they are unaware that I’m auditioning for a part already in character.
MH: Interesting. Can you give an example of a time you did this?
TW: Sure. It was for a part in a horror film just a couple weeks ago. I was supposed to be a high school jock about to be eaten by a monster and I decided to do my character, “sick guy.” It was like 100 degrees this particular afternoon and I was wearing three sweaters and two pairs of jeans and carrying an old metal bucket full of Thousand Island salad dressing and water. The casting crew looked at me like I was crazy, and I explained that I had a really bad fever but the show must go on. About two lines into the reading I started gagging a little and dropped to my knees next to the bucket. They asked if I was OK and I just said, “Too much horsey sauce,” and wretched a couple times. They told me that I should leave immediately and I started crying, pleading with them that this was my big chance. They gave me another shot and I immediately began to fake vomit again. I pleaded with them to let me try again and this cycle happened about four times before they kicked me out.
MH: That’s incredible. Do most of these performances end with you getting kicked out?
TW: Not most of the time. That’s about as extreme a character as I’ll do. Most of the time I just do “tall guy.”
MH: Where did the idea for “tall guy” come from?
TW: My dad always wanted me to grow up to be a tall man and when it became clear I’d never reach six feet, he was disappointed. In a lot of ways, it drove me to acting. Sure, I can’t be tall in real life, but I can act tall on stage. Some of my best acting moments have come when I’m acting like I’m 6’5”. But don’t get me wrong, shorties are full of beauty as well. They can be sneaky, tricky, or just plain coy. My dad’s never seen my act though and I’ve never told him about “tall guy.” I’m not sure why, it’s just one of those things.
MH: One of what things?
TW: Like when you scoot your chair in as you’re leaving a restaurant, or when you hold a door open for a little kid. Unnoticed good deeds keep the world going. I don’t have to point to it and shout. I just do something I know is good, and let it be. That’s exactly how I see my acting.
MH: Any shows coming up?
TW: I’m doing a lot of stuff. Just look out for the Westbest name.
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