It's been said there's someone out there for everyone. Undateable, a new comedy show from Second City Hollywood, tests this adage to the extreme. Running every Friday at 8 p.m. through Aug. 16, the sketch-improv hybrid utilizes real online interactions to examine the inscrutable world of internet dating.
The concept began when playwright Robyn Norris was forced to create an OKCupid account, so she could log on to see a friend's profile. On a whim, she decided to created the weirdest, most undateable person imaginable.
"I made up a whack-a-doo lady who was obsessed with cats and chocolate," says Norris in an email interview. "I thought it was crazy and didn't expect anyone to respond. But within days there were hundreds of messages to TracyLovesCats. Guys talking in all 'meows' and 'purrs.' It was ridiculous. And hilarious. Incidentally, TracyLovesCats was way more popular with men that I was at the moment and that's what got me thinking. Why is this 'undateable' character getting so many messages? Is anyone truly undateable when it comes to online dating?"
To test her hypothesis, Norris enlisted the aid of several of her comedy friends for a photo shoot and created 38 unique, severely flawed OKCupid profiles. Personae ranged from MarryMeNowStat (a man overly eager to tie the knot) to Old4U75 (a 30-something woman who can't wait to to be elderly) to PioneerInABox (a "living museum" employee who never breaks character and posts messages like, '"Things were better back in 1869. Butter churn 4 Eva.")
Guidelines were established to limit the variables. No starting conversations with other people; only civilians could initiate. No meeting anyone in person. Most importantly, no leading people on.
"Believe it or not there are lonely people on the internet," said Norris, "and we shouldn't mess with them or their sensitive hearts."
The experiment yielded hundreds of pages of authentic online interactions, like this response to Norris' most popular profile, Clean4U, which involved a picture of the writer clad only in a towel and the insistence that she takes 8 showers a day:
dear HEAD & SHOULDERS, eye steel tank hugh R zuh C L E A N IEST girl on OKcupid. just ONCE for ONCE for ONCE, wish you would respond back and TAKE SHAU SHAU with me so we could be C L E A N IEST together. Some kids are M E SSY when they drink milk but not me.
In the stage show Undateable, she states her hypothesis (that no matter how undesirable one may seem, there is still someone out there willing to love them), describes the experiment (the 38 fake profiles), and, most entertainingly, presents the data gleaned, via sketches. As the theater's LED screens display actual quotes from the likes of SexyLilWonton and FlyingToilet, the ensemble (comprised of Chris Alvarado, Rob Belushi, Amanda Blake Davis, Kate Duffy, and Bob Ladewig) embodies these cyber-personalities and reenacts their foibles.
Undateable posits that the majority of the potential daters encountered fall into a handful of basic categories: The Walking Dread (people who cannot resist putting references to the impending zombie apocalypse in their profile), The Most Interesting Uninteresting Men in the World (guys who quote pop culture badasses like the Dos Equis Guy) and Serial Killers (creeps who may literally be serial killers).