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Conversations with a Two Year Old

Many years ago there was a TV show called ‘Kids Say the Darndest Things’ which was first hosted by Bill Cosby in 1995.This was based on a daily radio show by Art Linkletter which was aired between 1945 and 1969.

But, look out folks, in 2014 we can forget TV and even radio and go straight to YouTube for the latest incarnation which centres on a real dad, Matthew Clark, and his real two year old daughter Coco.

Glen Schaefer from the Province Blog in Vancouver, Canada tells the story well.

“Anyone who has ever raised a toddler knows the scenario: the little person bluntly insists that one cookie wasn’t enough, or she dictates specifically her Dad’s role in her newly invented game.

Matt Clarke was an actor-musician caught in the thick of that world with his two-year-old daughter Coco earlier this year.

“I would think, imagine if an adult did that,” Clarke said. “There’s no way we could get away with that.”

Clarke and his wife Leila Harrison had stopped touring with their band Honey and the Money after Coco was born, and Clarke had gone back to acting – frustrated by unsuccessful auditions and taking little-seen shorts and indie productions.

“We’d written a couple of projects, pitching things, but, you know, sort of toiling in obscurity on that front,” Clarke said. “I was so uninspired by auditions — you’re always waiting on someone to give you the

OK to go ahead and do something.”

Little did he know that the solution to his problems was playing right in front of him. Clarke had worked with improv actor David Milchard on one of those unreleased indie projects, and he had the idea of casting Milchard as Coco for a video short.

“I thought, if we have an idea let’s just do it — finish it, execute it, put it out there. If no-one sees it, fine, but we’ve released it,” Clarke said. “The web was a perfect place to do it – it was within our grasp. You don’t need anyone’s permission.”

They filmed the first episode of Convos With My 2 Year Old with their director friend Darshan Rickhi last February, edited it and released it in May. Within weeks, it was an Internet sensation. They went on to make a total of eight episodes, and they’re now finishing another eight.

As two-year-old Coco to Clarke’s befuddled Dad, Milchard mixes droll comedy with an oddly unsettling menace, a formula that’s proven to be an instant hit.

So far, the videos have drawn more than 34 million views, and their web channel has more than 600,000 subscribers. It hasn’t made them rich, but the series has turned into a fulltime job for Clarke and Milchard.

“It’s crazy, right?” said Clarke, who heads to the Whistler Film Festival this weekend to take part in a panel on conquering the web (1 p.m. Saturday, Whistler Conference Centre). “I didn’t expect anyone to see it, really – maybe Mom and some friends.”

Coco has since turned three, and the family has another little boy, eight-month-old Shepherd, so their showbiz dynasty looks to have legs.

“I just put it on Youtube, put a post on Facebook and sent some e-mails out,” Clarke said. “Then my sister in law put it on reddit.com . . . and I think within a couple of hours it hit the front page of reddit. I woke up the next morning and it was at about 300-some thousand (views) and a million by the end of the day.”

That first video has now been viewed more than 9 million times.

Now Clarke and his collaborators are trying to figure out how to take their concept to other media — a book, perhaps, or television or a movie.

“We’ve been approached from the TV angle by a few different people. We’re kind of working on that right now.”

He said they can’t take a break now — the trick is to keep the audience they’ve built and take it with them.

“It’s an opportunity. Suddenly we have people interested in what we’re doing, essentially.”

He knows other web creators who have made more money on the web through on-screen product tie-ins.

Clarke and his team have done one short video as part of an upcoming Disney theme park online campaign.

And no, he doesn’t obsessively follow his daughter with a video camera, waiting for the next cute outburst.

“I just want to enjoy my time with her, just be with her, be engaged with her and try to be a good Dad.

Out of that, these things naturally come about. Something will happen and I just write it down afterwards.

There is a bottomless pit of material. . . . It’s this kid logic, so wrong but so right in some ways.”

His favourite Coco line?

“ ‘I’m naked, so I’m the boss,’ in episode two. I have yet to find anyone that’s really been able to poke any holes in that theory.”

Matthew’s line,

“It’s this kid logic, so wrong but so right in so many ways”

is very powerful. We have so much to learn from our children.

If you have been reading this newsletter for a while, which is all about excellence in fathering, you will have heard me talk about the whole learning experience of being a father, of being schooled by our own children in how to live and enjoy the moment.

The well known anonymous quote sums it up well,

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away”.

Children in their early years are in an extremely heightened stage of learning and development. A newborn’s brain is only about one-quarter the size of an adult’s but by three years of age the same child’s brain grows to about 80 percent of adult sizeand by age five the young child’s brain is 90 percent of a normal adult brain.

This heightened brain development between 0 – 5 years of age is interwoven with the experience of nurture and care that a child receives from both their father and their mother. Yes, this learning makes for some great comedy, but it should also be a time when we as fathers learn to laugh again and enjoy the moments “that take our breath away”.

Lovework

Watch some of the ‘Convos with my 2-Year-Old’ from YouTubewith your children and share them with your friends.  My favourite is ‘Leaves’  but you might prefer to watch the first episode which is the most popular with over nine million hits. The bloopers show reel is best watched after you watch a few clips from the first season.

One other thing, don’t forget to smile and even laugh, because you will live a lot longer if you do.

Yours for more conversations with our children

Warwick Marsh

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