Up All Hours with... YouTube's 'Convos with my 2-year-old'

Interview

  1. #interview
  2. #father
  3. #matt clarke
  4. #two year old
  5. #funny
  6. #youtube
  • Name: Matt Clarke
  • Children: Two. Coco and Shepherd
  • Where: Vancouver, BC Canada

'Convos with my 2-year-old' is a massively popular channel on YouTube. The original episode has notched up over 11 million views, and there are now five seasons to enjoy. As huge fans of the series, Up All Hours was thrilled to interview Matt Clarke, the creative brain behind it all

Saved interview for later

We asked Matt if he wanted to write his own introduction, or if he wanted us to do it, and he said:

Sure, feel free to write something up. I always hate writing my own introductions. I always feel so uninteresting and spend hours trying to figure out how to make myself sound more interesting without sounding like I’m full of myself, or just making stuff up. I guess you can use that if you like. LOL

We would like to add: Creator of popular YouTube channel ‘Convos with my 2-year-old’, songwriter, writer and all-round creative force!

Your family

So first things first, tell us about yourself and your family. You're all hilarious.

We’re a pretty normal clan, really. I think they’re more hilarious than I am. Very honest reactions and expressions to everything. My wife is like that too, actually. She’s terrible at hiding what she’s feeling. I think that’s kind of where the idea for this series came from. There’s great humour in truthful yet inappropriate expression.

We’ve always been a creative family, even before we had kids. My wife and I played in a band together for years called, Honey and the Money, and we made records and toured. So it feels very natural for us to all work together on a creative project. I think it’s when our relationship is it’s strongest actually, when we’re working towards something together.

Both of your children have very unique names. How did you choose them?

My wife came up with Coco. I’m not really sure exactly where she came up with it. We were both sure that we were having a boy (based entirely on hunch, as we never found out the sex through ultrasound), so we weren’t really thinking much about girl’s names. Then when she came out and we were surprised to find she was missing the expected hardware, my wife asked me, “Coco?” And it just seemed to fit.

Shepherd is a much longer story, so I’ll try not to bore you too much with it. When I was 13 I travelled with my Dad to China, and we were out in the middle of nowhere China for much of the trip. We were hiking up this one mountain and I came across a very old man who was shepherding a flock of sheep up the hillside.

I don’t know why, but for whatever reason, I had an intense emotional reaction to him. I just couldn’t stop crying. He just kind of stood there smiling at me, and I didn’t know what to, so I thanked him, handed him the two dollars or whatever I had in my pocket and I walked on. I still don’t know what that all meant, but it kind of stuck with me. When we were looking at names for the second baby, my wife mentioned she kind of liked Shepherd. When she said it that memory came rushing back, and so I knew that should probably be his name.

Your beautiful daughter, Coco, has become a huge part of your life in more ways than one! Was there a particular incident that inspired you to start 'Convos with my 2-year-old', or was it her personality in general?

It was more general. Just a string of these conversations that would be insane if they occurred with anyone who wasn’t three feet tall and adorable. I had kind of joked with some friends how crazy these things would be if they were with another adult, and I thought, “Hmm, that’s a funny idea…”

Every parent thinks their child is funny and entertaining, but Coco seems to be on a whole other level. When you started your YouTube channel, did you ever imagine how successful it would become?

No, I honestly didn’t. I think it would be crazy to have those kinds of expectations for something like this. You’d feel so disappointed with so many things all the time. LOL. I was honestly hoping for a couple thousand views. I felt that would be enough of an excuse to do more. So when it went viral, I was totally shocked.

I looked at these interactions between Coco and I as very much unique to her and I, but I hear so often from people that they’ve had the exact same conversation or interaction. People have sent us their own funny stories, and they are actually super funny. So I think it’s that universality of the series that has helped it become so popular.

David Milchard perfectly captures the innocence and unknowing genius of a child, which is impressive considering how a grown man playing a child could be very creepy! How did he become involved in the project? What training was involved to turn him into Coco?

David and I have been working together for a few years now, writing and producing together. We met doing an independent film years ago and recognised we had similar sensibilities and started developing some ideas together. So he was involved in this from the beginning. I brought him this idea and he was on board. I thought he was perfect for it because he’s the complete opposite of a two-year-old girl. And that’s how I wanted him to play it. And it’s strange, but by approaching it that way, it seemed to make him more believable as a two-year-old girl.

David Milchard

Coco often makes appearances in your videos, and seems like a real natural in front of the camera. What is she like to work with? Is it strange to write and direct your family?

She’s a total diva. Never work with kids! ;)

She’s definitely got a show-off gene in real life, but she’s typically quite shy of the camera. So I don’t really try to get her to act too much, it’s more about just rolling and seeing what we capture. Sometimes it’s something I totally didn’t anticipate and it actually works great. It’s very low key.

I don’t know how she would do on an actual film set, and I don’t really want her to be an actor like that. She’s just a kid, so delivering on cue and on mark seems too much to ask of her. Sometimes she’s just not into it, and so we adjust accordingly. It has to be fun for her, I have no interest in making it feel like work. And for our series, it’s the more off-the-cuff stuff that usually works out better anyway.

Worse case scenario, there’s always cookies around for a bribe. LOL.

Are there any plans to involve Shepherd in future videos? Will he be making his YouTube debut next season?

Haha! He’s made a series of cameos. Not sure what his involvement will be yet. He’s quite a character though. Lots of personality and very funny. So I have a feeling he’ll be the source of some inspiration soon. Perhaps something new altogether.

As well as doing 'Convos with my 2-year-old', you’re also a writer, an actor and so much more! How do you manage your work/life balance, especially now that your family has become your work?

It’s definitely a big challenge. It’s been very fortunate that the work and family have intercepted. It’s now technically a job requirement to spend time with my daughter, so that’s pretty awesome. I also am very aware that I owe much of this success to my family and so I owe it to them to be around and be engaged, and not be a zombie on my phone all the time. So finding that balance is really the biggest thing in my life. It’s a constant thing, always adjusting and figuring out how to do both effectively. But the more they cross over the easier it becomes.

It must be hard filming all day and then not getting much sleep with a little one in the house at night. How did you get through the long nights? Do you have any tips for getting through a day when you’re half asleep?

I think that’s a pretty common struggle across the board for all parents. It just kind of becomes your reality, doesn’t it? A coffee IV would be a great idea.

The biggest thing that helps I think is recognising how fleeting this all is. I’m going to blink and they’ll be 21, so I’ve come to relish those late nights, the unexpected events that leave me exhausted. I have these bouts of nostalgia for the present moment. I don’t know if that’s just the sleep deprivation, but it’s kinda cool.

People say that the second child is always easiest, because you become much more relaxed as a parent. Have you found your parenting style has changed this time around? Is there anything you do differently with Shepherd?

Yeah, I’m definitely more relaxed the second time around. I think based on a couple realisations : 1) He’s not going to die if he gets dirt on his face. And 2) Nothing lasts. The good stuff and the bad stuff all changes before you know it.

I remember being up with Coco at three in the morning and thinking 'well this is the rest of my life now, she’s never going to sleep through the night', and having this sense of panic. It’s insane. The next night she had a great sleep. So now I just try to enjoy whatever’s happening, good or bad, because tomorrow will be a whole new adventure.

What does the future hold for 'Convos with my 2-year-old?

Not sure yet. We’re trying a few new things, including developing a longer-form version. This whole thing started from a sense of experimentation, just doing something we thought was fun, so I’m trying to keep that spirit about it. So I’m just going to see what comes next.

Parenting

Funniest or most entertaining moment in your parenting career to date?

They’re all documented on the internet now. Ha!

If you had to pick one, what would be your top tip? Parenting related or otherwise.

Recognising that it’s all going to pass, faster than you’d like. I think that gives me a perspective for which to enjoy the moment more, be it awesome or frustrating.

Is there any message you want to give to or anything you want to say to your great-great-great grandchildren when they read this?

I’m sorry.

The Up All Hours round…

This is the quick-fire round, so we can get to know a little more about what you are currently into! These will serve as some awesome recommendations for others. So…

Up All Hours watching – YouTube and House of Cards

Up All Hours reading – Something by David Mitchell

Up All Hours listening to – New Paolo Nutini album, new Jack White album

Up All Hours eating – Wife’s cooking. She’s awesome.

Up All Hours wearing – Definitely not pants.

And finally, if you had to be Up All Hours with anyone, who would it be and why? - My family. Lame, I know, but that’s why I had them.

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