Blaze Mancillas Is The Host With Headliner Potential
By Matt Levy
Where do the hosts of internet trivia shows come from? They’re always these charismatic and funny personalities that make you feel like you’re seeing a superstar in the making. Well, Blaze Mancillas, host of SongPop Live (all you need to do is download the app to play), a US, UK, Australia and Canada-based mobile music trivia game show is a perfect example of a mysterious internet trivia show host whom you don’t know anything about but instantly love. Why do you instantly love him? Well, you know his type: he raps on the air, pulls April Fools pranks, does accents as varied as British, Southern and Brooklyn AND plays characters (for Christmas he was Elvis Presently), all to the delight of his growing audience.
The live show which airs twice daily at 5pm and 8pm EST has a simple conceit: Guess the name of the title or artist of 25 songs and you win cash. The cast and crew are constantly refining the game to make it more and more fun and Mancillas continually brings his A-game to every show. It’s paying off. The show just won a People’s Voice Award Webby last month which is a first for Blaze.
However, that still doesn’t answer our initial question. Where did this superstar in the making come from? Well, the future SongPop Live host grew up in the Bay Area of sunny San Jose, CA. Mancillas grew up with divorced parents so he’d go back and forth every week. He was a shy, only child who spent his time building Legos and playing video games alone in his room.
After high school, Mancillas transformed and was bitten by the performance bug. He got his BFA at Chaminade University of Honolulu in Broadcast Communications and went on to receive his MFA in acting at Columbia University. It was a three-year program that ended with showcases in NYC and LA where Mancillas was fortunate enough to get representation.
This led to Mancillas getting his first major role in a national commercial for a certain peanut butter and chocolate candy where he was actually almost fired. In the ad, Blaze played a terrified assistant who keeps bringing his demanding boss treats until she’s satisfied. His co-star had to eat a lot of these candies so he joked, “Hope you’re not allergic to peanuts! Kidding, it’s all high fructose corn syrup.” A few minutes later, a PA pulled Mancillas aside and warned him not to make fun of the product because executives were on set and his mic was on at all times. After lunch, he was in the elevator with the commercial’s director Tamra Davis (Half Baked, Billy Madison) and he apologized profusely for making fun of the product. She was unaware of the incident and didn’t seem to care. In fact, she told Blaze he was doing a great job. He always is.
When Blaze wasn’t acting in commercials, he was walking dogs for work. Around this time, Mancillas became interested in performing stand up. With all of the solitary time walking dogs he started thinking of jokes to amuse himself. Eventually a friend of his convinced him to do seven minutes of material at the weekly Under St. Mark’s open mic. Mancillas said, “My jokes weren’t great but I had fun performing and being silly and some people seemed to enjoy it. All I knew is I wanted to keep working at it.” He never looked back. Since then, Mancillas has become a fixture in the New York City scene. Onstage, he’s known for dissecting race relations. Blaze’s father is Mexican, his mom is White, his step dad is Punjabi and his best friend is mixed Filipino and white so he knows a thing or two about people of different backgrounds.
Growing up, Blaze always stood out from his father’s side of the family so he was always trying to find out who he was. As a result, much of his act is devoted to breaking down what it feels like not fitting into a particular box. Specifically being Mexican and not meeting people’s expectations of a Mexican person. That’s not to say that he solely delivers social commentary. While performing, Mancillas dances and does over the top character voices. Blaze says, “I definitely get my creative side from my mom. She was a theater kid in high school so she’s stoked about her son being a comedian, actor and host.”
San Francisco comedian and actor Paco Romane added, “Once you get past the fact that Blaze is his real name you’ll soon discover there is more to him than his friendly demeanor would belie. Whip smart, talented actor and funny AF, Blaze is a thoroughbred in a world of one trick ponies.” It’s true- he’s got a lot of different comedic weapons at his disposal. That’s why it should come as no surprise that Blaze’s comedy hero is Robin Williams. His influence can be seen all over his act with his sly social commentary and absolute joy he brings to the stage each and every time.
These COVID-19 days, Mancillas resides on the Upper West Side of NYC in a two bedroom, one bath pre-war apartment on the UWS with a roommate whom he grew up with in California and longs for his girlfriend he hasn’t seen since March 10 of this year because she lives in Brooklyn. He also misses his adult baseball league where he played for The Astoria Mets. Neighborhood kids would watch and say things like, “Are you the real Mets?” And then they’d try to walk away with a couple balls or a mitt.
To pass the time in his apartment, Mancillas awaits for the release of the short film What the Sparrow Said he shot in September 2018 with director Tim Guinee and producer/actor Anson Mount. The short, a dark comedy about two estranged brothers who reunite for lunch after their mother’s funeral, is expected to make a big splash at Festivals. He’s also made a few, short green screen videos for his Instagram story. There’s one about baseball and another called COVID Your Friend.
Mostly these days though, Mancillas spends his time finding a way to do something he’s never done on SongPop Live before. He said, “If I’m not as funny one night or if make a mistake, I don’t have to stress too much because I’ll be back on again tomorrow” which gives him freedom to create and have fun on air. On top of that, he kindly pointed out, “It’s really awesome how hard people at SongPop worked to make sure the team could continue doing these shows while working safely from home.”
Folks, THAT is who the host of this internet show is. A supremely talented, empathetic, hard working human being with a wide range of talents. Next time you watch SongPop Live, you’ll know that this isn’t just some guy. This is comedian, actor and star in the making Blaze Mancillas.
Finally! It should be noted that Mancillas brags that he frequently receives the compliment, “You have great friends.” He said, “I’m very lucky to be close with some wonderful people who don’t all work in entertainment. When these friends are around, magic of some kind usually happens.”