GT: Tell us a bit about your background and what projects you've been working on?
MM: I've been doing comedy for a little over ten years. It all began in 2007 with a promotion. I called my mom to tell her I got promoted and she said, "Congrats, but I thought that you would be doing something bigger with your life like comedy or acting." She actually recommend that I try out to be the ringmaster at a black circus--low hopes for her baby boy. Lol. Since then I've had some wonderful opportunities: I was the host of the Parlor Live Comedy Club for six years, I was on Kevin Hart's "Hart of the City" on Comedy Central, and am currently in the running for a deal with NBC.
GT: What's your secret to multi-tasking and balancing multiple projects and deadlines at once?
MM: My secret is to keep a calendar, give yourself deadlines, and to not over-promise or over-book. This is something I still struggle with, from my day job, to comedy at night, to podcast's with friends--it's easy to get lost in it all. But if you want to stay married, or be successful in this industry, you have to know where to put your time and energy.
GT: Who have been some mentors or influential people you've looked up to in the area?
MM: For me, the majority of the people I looked up to in the comedy scene have moved onto Hollywood. But, probably the biggest influence, is my buddy Jay Hollingsworth--my old roomie who helped me get my start. We met the second year into my comedy career and he forced me to become a better writer and stand-up. We always had the saying, "steel sharpens steel". Jay would never let me rest on having a good set; the focus was always on what we could do better, to be your biggest critic and your smallest cheerleader. Jay would later help me to become the host of the Parlor Live in Bellevue, and I will always appreciate him for that. Someone else who has been influential is the guy who manages my comedy career. He likes to remain anonymous and behind the scenes. He's like the Voldemort of comedy, "he who must not be named." He's given me endless opportunities, and during the early stages of my career, he let me know what jokes turn crowds and how to carry myself around big stars.
GT: What is the hardest part of being funny?
MM: The hardest part about being funny, is that what is funny is always changing. At this point in time, political correctness has become king and unfortunately anybody can jump online without ever having told a joke and say that you're a racist, homophobic, or a misogynist. Comics like Andrew Dice Clay, Redfox, or Sam Kinison might not have made it in today's scene. It's not that some people's assessments aren't right, it's just that we don't live by the same standards of an Eddie Murphy Raw today. There are jokes that I did in my early days that I would never dream of telling now. Part of growing in the industry is realizing that a groan is not the same as getting a laugh. I think it's also important to note that there isn't one comic for everyone, and that you might not win over every crowd you're put in front of. My advice to young comics is try every room, perform in the LGBTQ rooms, try black rooms, try the hipster rooms, do it all. You may not succeed at first but you will grow and learn how to navigate different crowds and different sensibilities.
GT: What did you want to be as a kid?
MM: I always wanted to do something in entertainment, I just didn't know how to start. My mom recently showed me a video of young Manny on his first day of kindergarten telling corny jokes--comedy has always been a part of who I am. Laughter was a big part of our family.
GT: What do you do to motivate yourself and keep yourself focused?
Like most people, my day job isn't that glamorous and I use that to motivate me to dream bigger. I realize this is just one step toward a greater future. I try to push myself by listening to inspirational soundbites from people like Les Brown on YouTube which helps me put things in perspective. He has a gift for making you see that you aren't promised tomorrow, and to make sure your dreams don't die with you. I also play a lot of lotto tickets 😉
GT: What is some advice for young people who want to get into comedy or short films in the Seattle Market?
MM: My advice is to just do it. There are so many different ways to get in, but the first step is taking that leap of faith. Be confident in yourself, but not arrogant; be kind to everyone, but know when to set boundaries. I've gotten a lot of opportunities through just being the funny guy on stage and being the chill guy in the green room. Study your craft, and log those hours.