The first thing Matty Whitmore did when he sat down to talk to me was turn his chair 90 degrees to his left, so he was no longer facing me. Although we were under a tree, sunlight occasionally filtered through the branches, and he asked if he could move his chair. “Absolutely,” I said, not anticipating that I’d be having a conversation with the side of his face for the next 16 minutes. So it was, to say the least, odd.
So was Matty. He had some interesting things to say–about consumerism, for example, and about what matters in life–but he also seemed bothered by the whole experience, including our conversation. And while he has a really clear philosophy about not taking things seriously and having fun, he was super-serious and humorless the whole time we talked. Like Kelly, he had a tendency to give short answers, although always with a tone–an almost sneering, arrogant, dismissive attitude that you can hear and judge for yourself below–that suggested I was an idiot for not already knowing a clearly obvious answer.
Matty’s grandfather is Oscar-nominated actor James Whitmore, his grandmother Audra Lindley played Helen Roper on Three’s Company, and his uncle is TV director James Whitmore, Jr. Despite that pedigree, he told me, “I’m below the poverty line. My family doesn’t give me money or give me handouts; doesn’t happen.” His CBS bio, however, said he had inherited and burned through a trust fund, so I challenged him and he admitted it. “I was given an education trust from my grandfather; I went through that by the time I was 23. I’m about 30 now, so that’s been 7 years of being destitute, on my own. All me.” He later said he “hated that money. … Money’s not everything. Not even close.”
Perhaps because he was recruited–at the Whole Foods in Santa Monica–Matty said a few times how much he was looking forward to going home, even tough the game had not yet started. He repeatedly said how content he is with his life in Santa Monica, where he works as a personal trainer. When I asked what he wanted out of the game, he said, “More self-awareness, more self-understanding. Growth. Going home, loving my girlfriend more, loving my dog more, loving where I live more, loving the way food tastes more, loving the way–I just want to take it all in, you know?”
In the game, he said, “my biggest concern in this is taking myself seriously. That’s my concern basically in life. I don’t want to take myself seriously. Ever. I’m a fool, and I want to remain a fool,” he said, and he wasn’t kidding at all. Speaking of kidding, when I asked what he’d contribute to his tribe, Matty said, “I bring the most important sense that the human beings have, and that’s the sense of humor. … All the other senses are good, but that’s top.”
Ironically, he didn’t say a single funny thing during our entire conversation, and was rather serious about his philosophy. “I like to be simple, you know? This world’s too caught up with experts and political correctness. I just want to be a lighthearted person and make people not take themselves so seriously as well.”
Later, he said, “I’m an honest asshole,” and also described himself by saying, “I don’t like to read much, I don’t like to write much, I just like to socialize, you know, be with people–that’s where I do my best work,” he said, adding repeatedly how he wasn’t concerned about how others would react to him, or about the game’s effect on his body, or anything else except snakes.
When I asked him about his strategy for training people, he didn’t really have an answer except to say, “I give them the Matty experience.” Here are a few clips from the Matty interview experience: