Wednesday, June 10, 2009
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!