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I Did It For Science: Speed Dating Stand-Up Comedians
"I mean, we're comedians," he whined indignantly, using the industry's favorite excuse for being a shitty person.
by Kendall McKenzie
If one were to categorize my dating history, a common thread would be undeniably apparent: I have hooked up with my fair share of comedians. Unlike groupies, this is not an accomplishment I actively pursued--I just happen to know a lot of comics and I'm kind of slutty. The stereotype of narcissistic, insecure, emotionally dysfunctional male comedians up to their nuts in women who want a funny, slightly famous train wreck to fix up (or just want to bang someone who's been on television) isn't completely unfounded, but it doesn't really apply to me nor the majority of comedians I've known Biblically. However, once the number of comedic notches on my bedpost reached double-digits, I had to at least consider the possibility that my chucklefucking tendencies were not entirely coincidental.
I discovered a speed dating service in New York City that allows singles to select events based on (sometimes absurdly) specialized predilections, which, intriguingly enough, includes comedians. Even though browsing through OnSpeedDating.com's porn-like categories (MILFs? Check. "Asian Persuasion?" Yup. Firemen? You betcha!) was slightly embarrassing, I have to admit; this isn't the worst idea. Dating is already so weird anyway, and if you're looking for something specific in a partner, or you have an insurmountable deal-breaker interfering with your fuck party, narrowing the search is practical and appealing.
So do I actually have a "thing" for comedians, or do many of the men I dig just happen to be comedians? For this type of research, I figured were I to attend any niche speed dating event, "LOL Speed Dating: For Comedians and the Women Who Love Them" would undeniably be the most appropriate.
Ticket to LOL Speed Dating event
Speed dating note sheet and "Are You Interested?" checklist (provided)
Golf pencil worn down to a barely-usable nub (provided)
When I arrived the first thing I did was scan the crowd to see if I had "history" with any of the comedians there, which thankfully I did not. I checked in, slapped a shiny, pre-written nametag over my left boob, and ordered a drink.
My fashion sense can best be described as "lesbian bookstore employee from the 50s," yet I found myself bobbing in a sea of dudes sporting crisp button-downs, Affliction T-shirts, and bedazzled plaid. I quickly realized my chances for attraction or compatibility on a physical level were practically nil, though I still relished the opportunity to expand my social horizons and have conversations with people who've never seen the inside of a stupid Brooklyn loft party.
The furniture in the bar had been rearranged into a makeshift stage/audience situation, with the women sitting in chairs on the left side, and the male comics assigned to the booths on the right. Our chipper blonde hostess named Amber took the mic and explained that every male comic would perform a short set, and the ladies would get three-minute "dates" with them in traditional rotating speed-dating style after the show.
Then the "comedy" started and it was...it was pretty rough, guys. A veritable graveyard of hack, these dudes blasted shock-jock schtick all over our grimacing faces until my spinal fluid curdled. Material included: masturbating with toothpaste (it burns!), ladies' purses (they carry EVERYTHING!), British peoples' teeth (not the best!), tits (awesome!), black dudes' dicks (they are big!), online dating (chicks: gross in person!), wife-beating (don't burn dinner hahahaha!), and the differences between men and women (there are so many!).
Between sets, hostess Amber would cheer the comics on while reminding the audience that doing stand-up is very brave, and encouraging us to be generous with our laughter. As the show trundled along this suggestion morphed into a plea, and poor Amber had no choice but to practically beg us to cough up some courtesy chuckles for the sake of morale. (I gladly obliged as long as the joke wasn't grossly regressive—I'm not a total monster.) Amber was definitely the most likeable person on that stage.
On the positive side, most of the comics told at least one clever joke and were all relatively confident performers, so it wasn't teeth-grindingly awkward. It's actually pretty entertaining to watch a bunch of comedians learn the hard way that enthusiastically cracking domestic violence and fat jokes to a group of women they're ostensibly trying to bone is probably not a great strategy. I almost empathized with their humiliation until I remembered that most of what they were saying was socially abhorrent and comedically lazy.
After the show and a gin refill, I was placed at table number one where I stayed while 16 men filtered through my section for three minutes at a time. Speed dating feels like working the booth at a job fair, and I inadvertently transformed into meet-n-greet mode. My cheeks ached from the giant pageant smile involuntarily plastered across my face, unnatural bursts of saccharine charm were cranked up to 11, and my enthusiasm reached amphetamine-like levels. Even though I probably wasn't romantically interested in any of these dudes, I still felt compelled to make a good impression.
As it turns out, the majority of the guys were very sweet, sincere, and humbled by the experience of having to tell jokes to an audience of stone-faced women immediately before interacting with all of them. One wasn't a comedian at all—he had misunderstood the purpose of the event and didn't realize the male participants were expected to do stand-up, so he was relinquished from performance duties (which, considering what I'd witnessed, probably gave him an edge). Most defied the negative stereotypes commonly associated with comedians' personalities, although some stayed painfully "on" the whole time. One guy seemed most interested in promoting his career, and kept bugging me to hook him up with up my "comedy friends." I'm not your agent, buddy.
There were only a couple completely insufferable assholes (which I imagine you're bound to meet at any event). But they were also the most fun because I had carte blanche to fuck with them. Brad, my tenth date, was a blue-eyed, spiky-haired blonde who looked so Aryan, so painfully clean-cut, I felt like I was talking to a Dockers ad from Nazi Germany. Brad does medical sales when he isn't telling totally topical jokes about his celebrity lookalikes (Zach Morris and Stiffler, FYI), and lamenting that none of his teachers in high school fucked him. Since much of his act centered around how ugly and gross most chicks are, I asked him why he was at a dating event trying to meet women since he didn't seem to like them very much. He responded by acknowledging his lukewarm reception during the earlier show, then blamed it on the "stick" we ladies all had implanted firmly "up our asses," as well as our inability to understand what quality comedy's really all about. "I mean, we're comedians," he whined indignantly, using the industry's favorite excuse for being a shitty person. "What did they expect?" Well, we expected to meet some funny guys, Brad, not a troglodyte desperately committed to perpetuating unflattering archetypes. Huff a dong.
Number 15, however, really brought the ruckus. Steve's comedic stylings had been unanimously declared both the most offensive and least funny (think “divorced Republican uncle doing Andrew Dice Clay”), and he was strutting between dates like someone marching to their execution but refusing to give a toot. As he approached my table and introduced himself I involuntarily blurted out, “Oh, you're the guy who hates fat women!” (Steve was not exactly svelte himself, for the record.) He smirked and replied “Everything I said on stage was absolutely true.” So Steve was going to ride his unlikeability until the wheels fell off. He bragged about the heat he'd caught from several other ladies while I rolled my eyes and scoffed, “Yeah, women are not typically super jazzed to be told how worthless we are by men we're trying to date. I know, it is crazy!” Steve expected everyone to hate his jokes, but he heroically told them anyway because he's apparently one of those people who believes behaving like a complete turd is really edgy and special. NEXT!
The only comic there was any chance of compatibility with was Ricky, whose set I actually enjoyed (he mocked men who catcall women and owns a vegan restaurant, natch). But, alas, physical attraction seemed mutually nonexistent. My favorite moment happened during my last date with Nigel, a sweet, mild-mannered British comedian. Nigel kept asking how it was possible that I was single while I frantically scanned my brain for a more appealing answer than "I'm mouthy and have a lot of opinions." I finally shrugged and sputtered "I dunno...I'm a feminist?" and Nigel smiled and replied "you look like a feminist." I can't argue with that, and thus, will choose to take it as a compliment.