Betsy Beutler, on Acting on Both Coasts, Comedy, & Roles on LEGIT, Scrubs, Black Donnellys, & You're the Worst.
September 19, 2015
I am originally from Oklahoma. I moved to NY first and lived there for years. I was on an NBC television show in NY called The Black Donnellys.
At that time, before NY tax breaks, there were really only about 5 shows being shot in NY and Black Donnellys was one. So, when that got cancelled I moved to LA to follow the prospect of getting work.
First Job in Entertainment
My very first paid job was a Dentyne voice over.
I went from having never booked anything and in one week I booked that Dentyne voice over and two Truth commercials.
Remember those truth commercials where they would tell you smoking was bad for you? Basically shame smokers. I don't smoke I just really like people who do.
Actually, I met my friend Omar Scroggins, who is still a good buddy of mine in one (commercial), and Spencer Grammer, who was a friend of mine for years, in the other. I believe it was one of her first jobs too. She went on to star in Greek and other great projects.
Almost everything creative inspires me.
But lately Broad City, I want to campaign to play Matty Bevers girlfriend on the show. It’s so good. I absolutely love those broads.
Amy Schumer. She literally gives zero fucks and I respect that and her so much.
Louis CK, but everybody loves Louie, I was a bag of dicks for Halloween last year (see photo).
My friend Carl. Her real name is Elizabeth Van Meter (see photo).
She went through a dark time and instead of being a victim she saw a picture of a woman in Vietnam who needed help and Carl decided to find a way to go provide the help and make a most heart-breaking beautiful documentary about the story.
The film just won The Bentonville film festival.
Stephen Falk, brilliant writer of YOU'RE THE WORST and every comedian on that show.
It's my favorite, and not just cause I'm working on it.
What is it about acting that you enjoy?
Bearing your heart, leaving it all on the floor. In comedy having no pretense.
Never taking anything or yourself too seriously. I have a friend who has a 3 year old and he says she's a born actor. I think I was like that.
I have a creepy good memory but I can't remember a time when I wanted to be anything else.
But growing up in a small town in Oklahoma saying I wanted to be an actress seemed like saying I wanted to be a princess, really far fetched.
So, when I was really young I would say I wanted to be a lion tamer then when I got a few more years on me I would say I wanted to be a welder or an auctioneer.
Just weird shit that I thought was funny. But my mother always knew I was an actor.
I moved to Oklahoma City when I was a junior in high school for a number of reasons but my mom really wanted me to get into drama classes.
I'm not a super dramatic human just always kinda been a funny bitch.
On Being a Bi-Costal Actress
I never really intended to be bi-coastal it just sort of happened.
I lived in NY first and I think people either love or hate the city. I love it. I have always felt like NY is my home. I used to go back for one month a year and I just kinda started going back for longer.
I think there are definitely pros and cons to everything.
I think the challenges present themselves not in logistics just in people forgetting about you. It's human nature, out of sight out of mind, so not only casting directors but also friends.
You have to work extra hard to stay in touch with people and you get left out a lot. Not because people don't like you but because often people don't know where the hell you are.
The positives - the business is changing and there is less money, so if you can work as a local hire on either coast or in Atlanta you are more likely to be considered.
It is a different world in LA and NY and this way you get the best of both worlds.
In NY they seem to appreciate talent a little more, of course this is a generalization, not all of LA is included in this, but as a general rule that is true.
In NY I've found they are nicer to their actors. In LA, because of the sheer numbers, casting directors just don't have as much time.
LA hasn't necessarily made me a better actor but it has made me better at auditioning.
I actually don't do much theatre. NY has an amazing theatre scene and I did a play with my friend Keith Knobbs who is now on Public Morals not too long ago. That was a straight to offer.
It's not that I don't love theatre I really do I just don't audition much for it.
Just recently I put something on tape for the Public Theatre but if I couldn't be in NY for the callback they didn't want me.
I was on hold for an episode of something here in LA, so I couldn't go back.
Sometimes scheduling blows.
I was in a sketch comedy group for years and, of course, we preformed live and that took up most of my weekends.
I would love to do a play. I don't sing, or at least I should never sing.
There are plenty of theatre, sans music, I could be doing. I just started working in TV and have accidentally gotten away from it.
Technological Impact on Your Field?
Technology has changed a lot. I wouldn't be able to be bi-coastal if not for the changes.
It used to be that you would put an audition on tape, they would put a physical copy in an express mail, and send it to LA.
Now, you upload a video to vimeo or whatever and they have the audition in 10 minutes. It's awesome!
Experiences in Television
It has been great!
I would say my biggest point of pride would still be Black Donnellys, it was my first big, my first big learning experience, and my first big heartbreak.
I didn't realize at the time that everything is a business.
It was an NBC show that I showed up to everyday and just gave it my heart and then it was cancelled. Most of my stuff never even aired.
I didn't know at the time that happens all the time and such is life. We, as actors, think of work as our art and it is but it is also a business.
It's not personal but it feels personal. It's like the first time a dude breaks your heart, it doesn't not suck every other time following, it just doesn't suck as bad.
It was also super, super, dramatic so it was a harder job. I have done a lot of comedy since which is obviously a blast.
I had a great time on Scrubs but the absolute best set I’ve ever been on was LEGIT.
It's this brilliant Jim Jefferies show for FXX. He called it one X away from porn. Jim was kind of in charge and really set the tone for an amazing set.
I have never laughed so much in my life.
I joked with them what do they do when they hire a real girl because the level of inappropriate hilarity and buffoonery was something I adored, but I can't imagine everyone would.
Love those boys in the cast and all the crew. I always say being mean and shit, jokes are really only ok if they're really funny, but no matter how much they broke my balls it was always hilarious!
They found out I was wearing spanks under my dress and called me spanks the rest of the time. Then made me do an underwear scene. Haha! I think just to see if it was as bad as they were picturing.
It's a marathon and the cream rises to the top, so hang in there.
And if you believe them when they tell you, you are amazing you have to believe those same people when they hate you, so know who you are and don't let anyone take that from you.
Always keep it real. That is my only real advice.
Comedy & Improv
When I was first starting out Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and all the other brilliant women comedians hadn't really paved the way yet for improv like they have now.
So, it was hard, and it still continues to be hard, because people aren't always sure what to do with you.
Back then you couldn't really be funny, a girl, and mildly attractive (I mean me not the other Goddesses of comedy), so the only thing they could take from you was funny.
I found at first people would kind of treat laughs as currency and if they laughed at your shit it made them not funny. I just really like to laugh. So, I got discouraged, of course.
Then, I worked with a guy who needed a girl in their sketch comedy group for one show. He knew how I rolled and that I could turn a joke, so I did it.
I ended up being in a group with them for 9 years now and we added Carl/Elizabeth Van Meter along the way.
They say your friends are the family you chose and they are my family.
My sketch comedy group is called the Scallywags.
Experiences in Film
Most of the films I’ve worked on have been low budget films. Basically, passion projects. I have had mostly great experiences and I’ve learned a lot.
I have found that the more people know what they are doing the cooler they are.
Sometimes, with first time directors or people who may be slightly in over their head, their need to really prove themselves can get in the way of the work, but for the most part I’ve been really lucky to be treated really well.
I did a zombie movie where I played a very sweet, innocent girl. It was a nice departure from the very troubled, edgy, girl who went the wrong way, roles I usually play.
We were zombies that didn't know we were zombies, it was a really fun idea and I blast to shoot. I made a lot of really great friends that I still keep in touch with.
It was a night shoot so we would come in at 7 or 9 pm and leave at 7 or 9 am. I was in a hurry to get home one day as we were shooting in Torrance, CA and for those of you who don't know that is almost an hour out of LA. So, after a 12-hour shoot I drove home for 2 hours in traffic.
When I was almost home I got in a car accident, but I was in such a hurry to leave set that I left my zombie make up on. The cops were called. So, the LAPD, the responsible party, and I, discussed the car accident as if I looked like a normal human.
You ever have a conversation with someone you're dating as if you not naked and just the thought of that makes you snicker? That's kinda how this was.
We never really addressed it. I just looked undead.
Avoiding Being Typecast
I've actually been very lucky. Some of my earliest work was very character driven, so I was able to show a wide range early on.
Also, I lived in NY first and at the time there were just no comedies being shot on that coast. So, up until I booked Scrubs there was nothing but hard-core drama on my reel.
I have a very dark sense of humor, so I used to say the only comedy on my reel was of me getting whacked cause it's this super sweet scene watching two kids fall in love then....Boom, I get shot in the head.
There is something so shocking about that that it made me giggle. But I like to find comedy anywhere I can.
As for getting type cast in drama, there wasn't a whole lot of danger in me being taken too seriously because I’m such a ridiculous, silly human.
I don't prefer one over the other. I like to mix it up. I think comedy can be serious and drama can be funny.
Most comedy comes from such a dark scary place that I have no problem accessing.
There is a vulnerability in drama that I don't experience in comedy, it's there but it's glossed over with jokes.
I always say I’m 5 seconds away from tears or an orgasm at all times (I’m a Scorpio) but I say that A) because it's true and B) because tears make people uncomfortable even if it's not their pain, so I lighten the mood with nonsense.
Displaying true emotion takes balls and only the strong can do it and do it well.
Everyone likes funny shit. Who doesn't like to laugh? Assholes and snobs, that's who.
I think the real difficulty is staying with it. It's hard sometimes. I got depressed about the down time a few years ago and I thought I was gonna quit.
The thing is the “not getting jobs,” isn't personal and it doesn't mean you're not talented, it's just sometimes, a number of factors add up and you have downtime.
I was ready to throw in the towel but luckily I don't really have any other skills, so I probably never would have. I sometimes have to plug in the t in Betsy. Get off my ass both my names start the same.
I had just kind of taken the summer off and I threw something on tape and ended up testing off it and it kinda revived my love for it (acting).
Also, last year I was the happiest I'd ever been, then I had a tragedy and after I experienced that I realized what whiney brat I was being - being bummed out about not working.
It wasn't life or death. I feel like I wasted time being sad and kinda blew my sadness wad on something insignificant.
Preparing for Roles
It depends on the role. For Black Donnellys I just watched a lot of documentary’s and movies featuring heroine addicts. Now, I no longer give money to vagrants who are leaning because I know they are on heroin.
For scrubs, I just had fun.
The most important thing for me it to not judge the characters I play and just think that they could be me if I had made different choices. Especially the troubled characters, they are just girls who went the wrong way.
Well, I’m a throw-back and was one of the last hold outs to have a flip-phone. I don't use much social media. I realize it's a tool. I just don't want it to take over my life.
I am also not necessarily private, as I said earlier, I will tell just about anyone just about anything about myself, but once you put something out there it's out there (online).
When you write a comment on the interwebs, in say august 2005, about something you thought in 2005 it's still there! That was 10 years ago and I’m sure your opinions on things have changed as you've had 10 years of life lessons.
Oh, and I say stupid shit. Sometimes it's funny stupid shit but it's still just stupid shit that I don't think everyone needs to or cares to read. I think our sense of self-importance has gotten a bit out of hand.
On the flip side, however, I was up for a job for a hosting new network. I'm not a host, but it would have been alongside one of my best friends in the world - Matty Blake, so we would've had a blast.
They screen tested me and it came down to me and me and then they found a girl with 1 million twitter followers, so they went with her.
I can't blame them she's got a built-in audience, I’m not shitting on that, I think it's awesome for people, it's just not how I roll and it's just not where I focus my energy, although I do recognize I could benefit from doing more.
Top 5 Moments in Entertainment
Top 5 is hard because at the risk of sounding like one of those assholes who thinks everything is positive for the most part everything is positive.
Even when things are not ideal there is a lesson to be learned.
I get to do what I love and make money at it. I am happy and what else is there, really, in life but happiness? I think small things like my first job, the first time someone asked me what I did for a living and I said actor. They then followed up with what else do you do and I got to say that's it I am an actor.
Things as simple as getting recognized on the train.
I'm thinking what is this dude's beef with me cause he's creepily starring and then I get home to an email from my website that describes me crocheting on the a train and him saying there is no way it could have been me. It was.
Also, there is a lesson there. He recognized my work and that's why he was starring, but I have a chip on my shoulder and assume it's cause he's judging me.
We spend so much time thinking things are about us and most often they are not, and assuming people are out to get us, and they are not.
Wait, maybe that's just me, told you I had a chip on my shoulder. I would say one of my favorite stories or compliments is my good friend Jamie worked with someone with whom I had worked.
She reminded him that they had worked together he believed her but didn't remember, then she said I’m friends with Betsy. He said, "Wow, you're friends with Betsy? Then you must be great. People go to school for years and train to do what Betsy can do naturally and if I could work every day for the rest of my life with her I’d be happy."
This is someone that has been in everything and worked with the likes of DeNiro and Buscemi. I will never forget that.
Is there anything about your career you would like people to know that they might not?
Please don't misunderstand, I’m so grateful and I have a really easy life compared to the real world, but it's kind of hard. Getting jobs and between jobs.
It's not mining coal or roofing in the 106 degree weather, but being unemployed no matter your profession kinda sucks.
Sometimes, downtime drives you a little nutty. Other than that, it's pretty awesome.
I think your entire life prepares you for your career and for leading up to the moments that define you as an artist.
I went to college for about 5 minutes then I dropped out and moved to NY. My best friend who had graduated talked me into moving, then at the last minute backed out and moved to Charlotte, NC. I felt like I couldn't really live in Oklahoma, not be in school, and not be perusing some aspect acting.
Of course, people do and Oklahoma gets a bad wrap cause of a select few dumbasses, but I loved it. I just wanted to pursue my love on a larger scale. I knew absolutely no one in the city, so it was a little rough at first but it worked out - great life experience.
I took classes here and there but through work I met Bobby Moresco and became a member of the Actors Gym.
It's fantastic and I learned a lot by doing it and with working with that group of talented people.
I don't really have a mentor, we are all just human, and we all have different gifts.
The amazing thing about the Actors Gym is that you aren't instructed by one person, because they are just one person and your instincts are sometimes better than the smartest person in the room.
If the smartest person in the room is a 75 year old man, I, Betsy Beutler, am gonna have a better idea how to play a mid twenties to early 30s woman than he will.
You don't have a coach, it is an open forum for anyone to give feedback. I have a lot of older friends that I have learned a great deal from and there are of course thousands of people to whom I look up but one mentor, no.
If I had to choose I’d say, Kathy, my mom, she's my favorite and I would be honored to turn out like her.
But she's a nurse and blood and urine gross me out.
Appearing on YOU'RE THE WORST on FXX September 23, 2015.
Thank you if you read this. If you get a chance, watch my reel. I'm proud of it.