Arts & Entertainment

#DateMe: Proving cat ladies can still find love

Photo courtesy of Kirsten Miccoli

The word “undateable” is a character trait I’m all too familiar with, and comedian Robyn Lynne Norris just so happens to share my pain.  But when her fake profile on OKCupid (TracyLovesCats) received hundreds of responses from interested gentlemen, Norris began to wonder if anyone (even a crazy cat lady) is truly “undateable.”

The word is now the center of Norris’ show #DateMe: An OKCupid Experiment in which a cast of comedians acts out dialogue between made-up characters and real online daters. Performing  with the help of five other actors at UP Comedy Club (230 W. North Ave.) this Valentine’s Day season, the show runs through Feb. 22.

The journey to get to the stage started when a friend asked Norris to check out her profile on OKCupid. In order to view other profiles, Norris found she needed to create a profile herself. Jokingly, Norris created a fake profile called TracyLovesCats — a character who is overly obsessed with cats.

“I don’t know what struck me, but I was like, ‘I’m going to make a profile about this crazy cat lady,’” said Norris. “It was the most generic cat lady you could ever imagine … everything just said in all caps ‘I love kitties!’”

Her cat-obsessed OKCupid profile surprisingly drew a lot of attention. When Norris logged back into the profile a few days later, she found hundreds of messages from interested guys. The men messaged “Tracy” everything from silly cat puns to sexy “purrs,” undoubtedly looking to get to know “Tracy” (and her cats) better.

“It struck me that … I’m single and I don’t get any attention, but this insane cat lady has all these guys after her,” Norris said. “So that was the inspiration for the experiment, which later became the show.”

From there, Norris and a friend created made-up people for OKCupid profiles, all of which had “undateable” qualities, such as a man obsessed with marriage or a woman obsessed with history and living in a museum.

“We posted [the profiles] in the top 10 cities for online dating all across the country and then tracked the results,” Norris said.

The hilarious dialogue between Norris’ fake characters and real online daters is what makes up most of the show.

“The characters in this show are very specific,” Norris said. “It’s not just a sketch show where you just cast random people. We did put a lot of thought into it.”

Although the show is tightly scripted, there’s still an improv component. Activities such as a photo booth — where you take potential pictures for your online dating profile — and taking audience volunteers will be featured in the show.

“[The show’s] goal is to make it an immersive experience for people because with online dating it’s all about meeting people … from the moment you walk in [to the venue] there is something involving the audience,” Norris said.

On top of audience participation, the show also features research on online dating. Characters will inform the audience of funny yet completely true statistics from several online dating sites. But for the experiment the show is based on and the dialogue, Norris only used OKCupid.

“We definitely only used OKCupid for a couple of reasons … first, it’s free,” Norris said. “I couldn’t afford to pay for 38 character profiles [on other online dating sites]. [OKCupid] is also a hipper dating site … they have a great sense of humor themselves.”

The show has already been running in Los Angeles for about two years, but the upcoming version at UP Comedy Club will feature Chicago improv actors Beth Melewski, Chris Redd and Norris.

“Everyone in the cast has [a lot of] experience with improv, so that part is almost too easy,” Norris said. “You have to have a huge amount of trust with that, but I also know that the experience level with this cast is such that [the improv] is going to come together and be so much fun.”

To further amp up the comedy and love in the air, Norris said there will be mixers after the show on certain nights. Audience members can mingle and talk about the show while possibly scoring some digits.

“The show’s so crazy, but after the show people always have things to talk about,” Norris said. “Instead of it being like a dating mixer where you’re just at a bar and trying to fake small talk, you can actually talk about the show.”

Altogether, the show allows audience members to meet each other (and possibly not go home alone on Valentine’s Day), as well as meet several of Norris’ hilarious characters who liven up the online dating world.

#DateMe: An OKCupid Experiment runs through Feb. 22 at UP Comedy Club (230 W. North Ave.). Tickets cost $26 and are available for purchase here.

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Layne Hillesland is a senior communication student at Loyola University Chicago and the current Arts & Entertainment Editor for The PHOENIX.

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