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Two Comedians and a Baby Running an Internet Company in the Garage.

Two Comedians and a Baby Running an Internet Company in the Garage.

Writtem by Guest Blogger Chris Mancini

The title is not an exaggeration. Last year, comedian Graham Elwood and I started comedyfilmnerds.com since we were so tired of trying to get work with web companies or any other company for that matter. So we thought we should just become competitors. Of course we were doing it all ourselves and on less than a shoestring. So everything took longer and the credit card balances went up for both of us.
Our goals were ambitious. We wanted to feature movie reviews and columns written by professional comedians, interviews and comedy CDs, DVDs and books available for sale along with movie downloads. We’re a mix of Filmthreat, Amazon and ITunes. So our site was cobbled together with duct tape and off we went. And then it crashed and didn’t work. Many times. That has mostly been corrected.
Audge was on maternity leave while we started everything. We were so excited. We moved my office into the garage and that was going to be the baby’s bedroom. At first I was disappointed but if anyone with children knows, to have a room detached from the rest of the house is much more awesome than either parent will let on to the other.
So every Tuesday Graham comes over and we play “internet moguls” in the garage. We have a blast. We laugh, work, and strategize. And then we try to slowly learn how to get people to come to our website.
But my wife’s maternity leave ended and she soon went back to work and I was suddenly a stay at home dad/comedian/author/filmmaker/web guy. It’s been tough, but we’re getting through it. We’re both working double shifts as we switch off from work and childcare duties and try and get a few hours of sleep in the process. Between working on the website, finishing the book and doing an occasional show there wasn’t been much time left.
So Graham and I shifted our website schedule to later in the day and my son Griffin was now part of the mix. He would be present at the reading of the minutes and have voting rights during board meetings.
So now Griffin is almost a year old, and it’s been about a year since we launched the site. But now Griffin is crawling and he won’t stay in the “bouncy chair” whileF Graham and I struggle and take an hour to try and add a jpeg image of a T-shirt to our online shopping cart.
There are times when Graham holds the baby as I look up a purchase order or find out who Doug Benson is supposed to make a CD out to. The first time I asked him I just flat out said, “Is that weird, that I’m asking you to hold the baby?” He laughed and said no, he has many nieces and nephews and much practice. So I gave Griffin to Graham and he instantly took to him and tried to rip his necklace off. I think it was made of shark teeth or something because Graham’s a surfer and they… all fight sharks, right?
Now you expect comedians to make you laugh, get drunk, hit on waitresses and pass out in a back alley of a club somewhere. OK, we’ve all done it. But it’s a weird picture to see two comedians taking care of a baby. It’s an especially weird picture for the actual comedians.
But here’s the thing: I’ve never been happier. I’m doing my own thing. Taking care of my baby, running a business and there is no one to answer to. If I’m going to learn how to use a website content management system and learn how to use Microsoft Accounting (and I’m still learning, very slowly), I’m going to do it for me, and not anyone else.
I’m sure our company would be making millions of dollars right now if we had things like a staff and a marketing budget. And maybe a new computer. But it is making a little money, thanks to the support of comedy and film fans, comedians, filmmakers, advertisers and other people supporting us along with one intern who is trying to figure out a nice way of telling us she’s too busy to help us anymore. And of course the support from OMM during my book release (PACIFY ME: A HANDBOOK FOR THE FREAKED OUT NEW DAD) has been amazing.
We’re in the middle of rebuilding comedyfilmnerds.com (we originally called it comedyfilmnerdsdotcom.com but it was screwing up navigation and links) and my son is getting bigger. I can see the growth in every part of my life right now, and it feels good. Having children changes your perspective for the better. WAY better. And starting my own business has changed it even more. I’m not “industry obsessed” or constantly “waiting for someone to call me back” anymore. And even if I’m having a bad day, Griffin smiles at me and then it simply doesn’t matter anymore. Now about that million dollars…

Chris Mancini is a comedian and author. His first book “Pacify Me: A Handbook for the Freaked-Out New Dad” is now available for purchase. Enter to win the book for FREE!

How I Knew Not to Take My Four Year Old to see Coraline.

How I Knew Not to Take My Four Year Old to see Coraline.

Written by Guest Blogger, Chris Mancini
I read the book a few years ago. I knew what it was about. I knew the director Henry Selick has a dark streak and directed Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. To be honest, I couldn’t wait for this movie to come out. When my four year old daughter Bella saw the trailer she wanted to see the movie. I told her no, it would be too scary.
Now, you would have no idea of that from the trailer. It shows happy scenes and a little bit of danger. Standard kid fare, right? Not even close. Coraline is an animated gothic horror nightmare for children. In 3D. And it’s well, great. But I’m not going to let my daughter see it for at least a few more years. But at the time of the trailer I hadn’t even seen it myself yet, so how did I know? Because I knew the source material and I knew who the people involved were who made the movie, and I noticed the PG rating, although after seeing it, it was really a borderline PG-13.
The book was terrifying. Especially if you’re a parent. It’s about a little girl who disappears through a small door in their new home and meets her “other” mother and father who are much nicer to her, at first. The problem is they have dead black buttons for eyes. The creepiness is lightened slightly for the movie, but not much, that’s for sure. And to be truly effective, it shouldn’t have been. I was very impressed. But as a parent, it doesn’t help you how good a movie is if it’s inappropriate for your children. Your kid may like video games and enjoy Mario Kart but you don’t want them going to Vegas and playing video poker, do you? Technically, still a video game.
As usual, trailer editors and marketing departments have no idea what the content is that they’re trying to sell. So it’s up to us parents to not only filter content but to now also adjust for big studio incompetence as well. As if we didn’t have enough to do.
So know your books, know your shows and know your movies. And look, if you get stuck or miss something, just as me or any other parent who always seems to be talking about Aqua Teen Hunger Force or Battlestar Galactica. Trust me, we’ll know.
Coraline is an absolutely fantastic movie and I can’t recommend it enough. It will soon be a classic up there with the Nightmare Before Christmas. See it in 3D for the full effect. Just don’t take your little kids. Seriously. Don’t. Get a babysitter and leave them home with Wall-E.
Chris Mancini is a comedian and author. His first book “Pacify Me: A Handbook for the Freaked-Out New Dad” will be out June 2, just in time for Father’s day.http://www.daddyneedssomealonetime.blogspot.com/
My Father, The Financial Genius

My Father, The Financial Genius

Written by Guest Blogger, Chris Mancini

Let’s face it, it hasn’t been a good year for the dollar. From being gouged at the gas pump to the financial markets all put collapsing, it makes me want to go into a large corporation at random and punch a CEO right in the face and then smother him with an actual golden parachute.

Then when you have kids, every time there is a food price increase due to higher fuel costs, it hits you exponentially. But there’s all that money you’ve put away for retirement, right? Right?

I work free-lance. I don’t really have a 401K. My wife, however, is a normal person. She does. Or, she did. Before our eyes we saw our balance that we… I mean my wife, worked very hard for years and year so it would hopefully grow into something we could use when we retired. Or at least blow on something stupid like a yacht painted with the slogan “Gas, Grass or Ass, No One Rides for Free”.

My wife and I knew very little about money and the “markets”, “401Ks” and “investing.” We really didn’t. So we learned the hard way, by making mistakes. Not a good way to learn.

Our generation learned nothing about money from our parents. “Put money in a savings account” was the long and short of our financial planning advice. I remember once my father asked me what a stock option was. Then I told him. He looked at me like I just tried to explain quantum physics.

But then I asked my father how his pension was doing. “Fine” he replied. “I don’t trust the stock market so all my money was in fixed.” Whoah. Stop right there. It was the wisest thing my father had ever said. That wily, wily son of a gun.

Obviously now this whole “knowing nothing” about money and the economy was all a ruse. My father was a financial genius and saw this coming a mile away. His money wasn’t in the market. He was safe. And since he’ll be retiring soon, he doesn’t have to worry about working another 100 years, like the rest of us. This of course made me both impressed and resentful.

But who do you turn to? Financial planners? They are nothing more than glorified bookies. We had one that was so moronic he actually got us into more debt. Thanks, I could have done that myself and saved $500.

So we had to learn about money on our own. But more importantly we have to teach our kids about money. We just have to. Things are too complicated and unstable. They have to know. Right after they get their $5.00 allowance tell them if they hold on to it for a year and keep it in the market then they’ll only have to pay capital gains taxes on it. Their response will probably be “But I just want to buy candy” which is certainly valid as well.

Recently our 401K (I can say “our”, we’re married) went down to a 30% loss. At least that’s something. Right now all you can hope for is a smaller negative number. But when my father comes to visit this Christmas, he’s buying.

Chris Mancini is a comedian and author. His first book “My Life is Over, A Handbook for the Freaked-Out New Dad” will be out next father’s day.


Why I Love and Hate Whole Foods Market

Why I Love and Hate Whole Foods Market

Written by Chris Mancini

It’s always a treat to go to Whole Foods. It’s good food, it’s fresh, and everything tastes pretty good. Yes, it’s a great experience until you get to the cashier and you always think they made a mistake. I actually took a bag of grapes back because I thought $15 for the bag was a mistake. It wasn’t. No one needs grapes that badly, even of your winery just burned down.

With two kids, I want them to eat healthier. I want to eat healthier. So why is it now so freaking hard? When as a society did we get to the point where it costs more to have less shit in our food? “Oh, you want food that’s not going to kill you? Now THAT will cost you…”

So we’re trying to adjust our budget so we can afford food that won’t kill us. We mix in visits with Trader Joe’s and try to eat out less. And I told our three year old daughter that she’s now going to trade school instead of college but to enjoy the organic broccoli.

But there are other reasons I do love Whole Foods. There is entertainment value while you’re shopping. I love watching overly thin women in baseball caps take four hours to pick out the right vitamins. I also love watching the “poser” healthy people. The ones who want to be seen and want you to think “Look how healthy I am! I shop at Whole Foods. Look, I have a bottle of water in my hand right now.” You know afterwards they go home, eat four packages of Ding Dongs and then throw up. My wife even had a friend who would go there just to pick up men. And was never unsuccessful.

I love Whole Foods because they are trying to help me and my family eat healthier. I hate them because they are expensive and they shouldn’t be. I’m angry that it costs more to get fruit not covered in pesticides and food without chemicals in it whose names I can’t even pronounce. It shouldn’t cost more to get actual maple syrup out of a tree than to manufacture it in a giant vat from a bunch of chemicals. So until Costco goes organic, my second mortgage and I will be at Whole Foods.

Chris Mancini


The Closet

The Closet

We’re getting ready for the new baby. I’m losing my office but gaining a son. I’ve been putting off going through my office because I didn’t want to face the fact that I’d be moving it into the garage. My office was my personal space. I didn’t want to lose it.

But July 15 is right around the corner. It’s going to be a C-Section, so it’s scheduled for July 15. Unless it rains, then it will be the 16th or 17th. So I stared at the Herculean task before me. Going through the closet.

See, the closet was basically a nostalgia and pop-culture themed oubliette for me. Anything I didn’t want to get rid of I threw in the closet and then forgot about it. It was a “walk in” closet, but hasn’t been for a very long time. More of a “walk away from” closet.

I found all sorts of things in the closet. I found an MP3 player that had no memory. I found a Sony Discman. It could play one whole compact disc at a time! I found old video games. I tried to load one on my computer and it didn’t work. I found old photos. Old letters. Old video tapes with things I can’t even explain on them. Why did I keep a documentary on farming in China?

As I was going through the boxes I found some of my old short film movie props. I was going through them and Bella was enjoying them as well. My wife looked at them and asked if I was going to keep them. “Are you kidding? You’ll never know when you’ll need a rubber chicken, a bicycle horn or a Leprechaun hat.” She looked at me like I was being funny. The thing is, I meant it. I’m keeping everything from the street cleaner costumes to the giant novelty sunglasses. I’m just moving them into the garage.

We’ve talked about moving into the garage for a while, and it’s almost ready. Soon it became a running gag.
“Is it okay if my friends from back east visit for a week after the baby is born?” my wife asked.
“I don’t care, I’ll be in the garage.”
“…You’re not going to be living out there. Are you?”

So while I’m saddened that I have to give up a space that meant a lot to me over the years, I’m looking forward to the garage and making it into my own new space. It will be my new personal “man-cave” that I can mold again from the ground up. In the meantime I’m also looking forward to giving my new son his own space as well. We’re guys. Space is important to us.