Someone promoted the heck out of this “Movember” thing. It’s everywhere. As the ironic mustache fades from hipster culture and embraces the everyman, (effectively eliminating all post modern commentary) we are suddenly surrounded by facial hair.
But the Movember movement, where men are encouraged to grow out their mustaches to raise money for prostate cancer research, speaks to a larger paradigm shift we’re seeing in gender identity. I wouldn’t call it latent backlash to feminism.; it’s more of a celebration of the duality of modern “masculinity.”
In keeping with the season, I reached out to Todd Behrend and Dave Friedrich, the hosts and creators of American Mansy, a podcast and blog for men. It covers everything from relationship advice to personal finance:
Dave ‘The Masshole’ Friedrich is from small-town Massachusetts. He’s the youngest of eight; German-Irish Catholic family. He’s a regular guy’s guy – sports, etc. Friedrich is the Oscar Madison to Behrend’s Felix Ungar.
“Uncle” Todd Behrend is from a very small family, born and raised on Long Island, New York. He describes himself as “the artsy-fartsy literary type — an actor.” I’ve been acquainted with these guys since the early days of Vox Electro. They’ve always been the friendliest dudes on Twitter. My only regret with this post is that it took too long for me to get around to making it happen. Todd answered a few questions for me.
Where’d you guys meet?
We met working at a fine dining restaurant in downtown Chicago. We only had the East Coast in common. I was in the Mansy Deep-Six, not knowing where to turn. We didn’t know each other. Out of nowhere, without knowing why, I said the following: “I need to talk to you.” From that point forward, a conversation and a friendship was born. This conversation continues on American Mansy Podcast.
Mansy is an affliction that every American man has that he will never get rid of – a lack of self-control. It afflicts men internationally as well. This lack of self-control can affect his everyday life, especially relationships, which is our focus. You can keep it at bay, but you must always keep an eye on it. Always. It will flare up when you least expect it if your guard is down. It’s like herpes – you have it for life. Mansy compromises what defines a man the most – that you are defined by the sum total of your choices.
In three words, describe the 21st century adult, American, man.
Adolescent, afraid, entitled.
Your iTunes category is self-help. Has that always been the goal, or was there a tongue-in-cheek side of it when you started?
When you submit a podcast to iTunes, they require that you categorize the show into three different genres. I suppose you can choose just one for all three. But even bigger named podcasts, such as Adam Corolla’s numerous shows, also show up in Society and Culture and Health. To be completely honest, we had no idea how to categorize what we were doing because it doesn’t fall completely in one or another. Ultimately, Self-Help seemed to be the most appropriate for what we were (are) doing. We’re listed in Comedy and Society and Culture also. Maybe Tough-Love Kick-Yourself-In-The-Ass Self-Help would be more appropriate. This doesn’t exist, however.
What do you and Dave attribute your chemistry to. Is it a Yin and Yang thing?
Yin and Yang, absolutely. Some of that comes from what’s in the first answer to this interview. The genesis of our friendship comes from those initial conversations that eventually developed into American Mansy. Our friendship has a solid foundation. Any disagreements or differing points of view we may have on the show always comes back to solving a bigger problem – Mansy.
Tell me a little about the Ordinary People series.
We are most proud of our Ordinary People, Extraordinary Mansy series. Ordinary, everyday folks are fascinating. Extraordinary, interesting people are incredibly dull. They’re already interesting. So what’s interesting about that? Michael Jordan doesn’t interest me. The guy sitting across the aisle on the bus, however, heading to his third job, deep in thought and saying nothing, has incredible stories. It’s just that no one has asked him to share them. The guests we’ve had on this series fall into this category. Their stories are riveting. From a near-death experience to the truth about online dating to what to do when the doctor calls and your life changes overnight – their stories are real, vulnerable, human, and easy to identify with. And always lurking in the background is Mansy.
I’m trying to grow a beard right now, “trying” being the operative word. Any suggestions for those not blessed by the hirsute gods. (Lots of gaps going on here)
Do the best with what you have. Don’t pretend you have more than you do. For beards and for life.
How are you approaching the podcast monetization challenge?
We are treating it as a final concern, not a primary one. Although our start-up costs were high, our monthly costs are fairly manageable. Unless you have scale and reach (Adam Carolla, Joe Rogan, Marc Maron, Bill Burr, etc.) monetization is a moot point. Until then, high-quality consistent content should be the goal. I can’t begin to tell you how many people from around the world have emailed us that our show has changed their lives. We have a duty, obligation and responsibility to those people. If any money comes, it will come later.
Which guest has drawn the biggest response from your fans?
Our guest Drew Bialko from What To Do When Your Life Changes Overnight. It’s about how to deal with day-to-day life after being diagnosed with cancer. He talks in simple, human terms about what it’s like, demystifying cancer in the process. How do you manage Mansy in confronting it? How do you go to work? How does the quality of silence change when you’re by yourself? It’s a moving, beautiful interview. The greatest takeaway, however, is the strength of his marriage and his love for his wife.
What’s can we expect from American Mansy in 2014?
We are collaborating on our first book, using more show topics sent to us from our fans, and our next Mansy Meetup here in Chicago.
Go to American Mansy for more on the show and follow American Mansy on Twitter