When I met Joe, I also met Teddy. In Maine from his home in Tennessee to shoot a film for Two17Films, Joe switched from his two roles seamlessly. Joe’s version of the former president is based on research, adoration, and habit. He has been Teddy for 250 days a year for the past ten years. He’s been Teddy at the Whitehouse, on mountaintops, and now, at Portland’s Masonic Temple before a full film crew.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU?
Family and faith. I could not do what I do without the love and support of my wife, Jenny, and daughter, Sam.
WHAT DO YOU WANT IN YOUR LIFE?
I do want to help make a positive difference in people’s lives. If my interpretation can entertain or even inspire an audience member to overcome some hardship or pursue some worthwhile endeavor, then I have done some good.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOMENT IN THE DAY?
That first cup of coffee in the early morning hours, when nothing but the notes of the songbirds break the quiet.
WHAT LESSON HAVE YOU LEARNED RECENTLY, OR ARE LEARNING NOW?
I am learning balance. Over the last six years, I have chased nearly every gig I could, everywhere in the country, sometimes, I think, accomplishing an itinerary that any rational observer would consider impossible. I joke that when the pace is Rooseveltian it is easier to stay in character. I’m actually much more comfortable referring some of my colleagues for performances that just don’t fit my tight schedule.
HOW DID YOU BECOME A TEDDY ROOSEVELT REPRISOR?
I began entertaining Republican audiences in my native Illinois, an audience that needed desperately to laugh at something. My father, Jim Wiggins, is a hippie comedian, and I learned a great deal of my stagecraft from Pops.
In our US Constitution, in Article 1, Congress is given the power to grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal. One of our privateers, acting under this authority as a reprisor, would “capture and present for reward” an enemy vessel and its contents. I attempt to “capture” TR and “present him for reward” My interpretation results from years of continual research, reading, exploring, even mountain climbing in the old man’s foot steps. That is so much more than acting or impersonating.
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO BE TEDDY?
It is humbling to think that I can bring TR to life as even a fraction of the real thing. He was so vital, so energetic and insightful, that I am hopeful to do the job well enough to at least give modern audiences a little glimpse of what TR might have been like.
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO BE JOE?
I am in a very happy place in my life. I miss my family when I am on the road, but I am living a vigorous life, seeing this beautiful country, and, hopefully, inspiring my daughter through example to pursue her dreams with equal vigor.
WHY TEDDY? WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT PRESIDENT TEDDY ROOSEVELT?
TR was a family man; a man dedicated to service, based in great part by his deep, personal faith. He lived what he preached, and he lived to the fullest. He is an inspiration, overcoming youthful illness, family tragedy, and the slings and arrows of dirty politics. He rose above it all, leaving America better than he found it.
WHAT HAS THE EXPERIENCE OF BEING TEDDY GIVEN YOU? DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE MOMENT AS TEDDY?
Being the nation’s premier Theodore Roosevelt reprisor has given me a chance to meet thousands of amazing people from throughout the country. I have enjoyed travelling to some wonderful places, all the more enjoyable when I can take an extra day to climb Katahdin or Mt. Marcy. As for favorite moments, it is hard to top the performance at the White House celebrating TR’s 150th birthday. I especially treasure that for the fact that my wife and partner, Jenny, was in attendance. There had been many challenges in the years, months and days preceding that October 27, 2008 performance for President and Mrs. George W. Bush and their guests. Perseverance wins the prize!
For more about Joe Weigand, click here.
For more about Two17Film’s ” the Great Confusion: the 1913 Armory Show”, click here.