No one may spread holiday cheerfulness better than Real.Fun.DC founder Tommy McFly. As he gears up for non-stop Holiday Cheers on the independent broadcast channel, we caught up with him to ask about tips for keeping the holiday spirit alive and his favorite go-to spots.
It’s been two years since you and Kelly Collis launched “Real.Fun.DC.” and now you have recently rebranded to “The Tommy + Kelly Show” and added five shows to the schedule of the District-focused broadcast channel. You’ve been busy!
It’s going incredibly well at “Real.Fun.DC.” Passing the mic to friends like Nycci Nellis to bring her curated taste to our platform has been awesome. Kelly and I hope to continue to welcome dynamic voices to share their perspectives on our local independent broadcast channel. DJ Neekola, Carlos Rice, Courtney Laughlin, and Shannon Finney have brought a new energy to our programming in time for a new year.
What has been the most surprising part about being an entrepreneur of your Internet-based platform?
Only having to answer to Kelly Collis. I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit but now it’s really happening. We get to try new things constantly and improve every day. I feel like we made a pivot to a digital environment about a year before everyone else had to. A pivot isn’t an overnight complete switch; it’s a process of a million little successes and failures as you journey to an aspirational destination. (I might get that last line cross-stitched on a pillow.)
Tell us your favorite virtual events you’ve produced.
We just launched “Charlie Mike Vets,” an edutainment platform providing uplifting storytelling for and about the military community. Also, this spring, we orchestrated a Zoom surprise for a bunch of Nats fans with Ryan and Heather Zimmerman, and Ryan gave everyone a walking tour of his house. That was pretty wild.
In the weirdness that is 2020, do you have any tips for how to keep the holiday spirit alive?
No such thing as too much holiday spirit, especially this year. My husband Chrys and I are lucky enough to call Heather Cooper—a White House florist and designer for the last three administrations—a dear friend. When Heather comes bounding into our condo with all of her Buddy-the-Elf-meets-Anna-Wintour-ness, the holidays have officially arrived. Take a breath, stare at your tree, connect with the people who truly make life magical.
Any meaningful traditions?
I love giving gifts, which is probably weird to hear from an only child, millennial Gemini. It’s my favorite thing to see people’s reactions when you absolutely nail the perfect present. As for traditions, I’m a grown man, but my mom still does a stocking with an orange in the toe and random stuffers for me.
What are the ways that you’ve stayed social, safely, during COVID?
So many outdoor meals. The D.C. restaurant community has been such a part of my life since moving to town in 2006, and I’ve been meeting friends for outdoor meals while supporting an industry that’s a critical part of Washington. Some favorites are Amy Brandwein’s Centrolina, Angel Barreto’s Anju, Peacock Cafe and Farmers & Distillers. Additionally, DJ Neekola talked me into getting an Oculus, so we’re going to apparently hang out and be friends in Virtual Reality … whatever that means?
Tell us your secret on how you stay so peppy.
Cold brew and weapons-grade eye cream. Also, connecting with people. It’s been a challenge this year for all but there is so much good happening all around us.
What are three things you are looking forward to in 2021 (besides a vaccine)?
• Live music. Lord, I miss concerts. I’d even take a Hootie and the Blowfish cover band in a tiny, dark and musty bar at this point.
• Seeing Chrys’ family in Karpathos and Rhodes in Greece. We’ve gone every summer since 2013.
• Hugging people again. I mean this in the least creepy way possible.
My Top Spots
My favorite local small business to buy holiday gifts is Bailiwick Clothing Company (wearbailiwick.com). Their whole line is so creative and unapologetically D.C.
I love looking at all the trees created by people from across the country at The Pathway of Peace around the National Christmas Tree. It gives you hope that there’s more that connects us than divides us despite what some politicians might like us to believe.
When it’s chilly, I love a chia toddy takeaway cocktail from Buffalo & Bergen (1309 5th St. NE or 240 Massachusetts Ave. NE).
Komi (1509 17th St. NW) is where I hope to have takeout for New Years.