On Stage

Date Night

An improvised Valentine

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

When I was performing improv on a regular basis, one of my favorite formats we presented to the crowd was a game called “Date Night.”

We’d call up a real-life couple from the audience, get the story of how they met and their subsequent first date, then re-create the action onstage as best we could. When we got something right, one half of the couple would ring a bell. When it was dead wrong, we’d hear a rude beep from a loud horn, and would have to go back to the basics. The end result was that the interactive game often garnered the loudest applause—and the most laughs—of the night.

I’m interested to find out if “Date Night” will be on the roster at the “Hooking Up with the Second City” gig taking place on Valentine’s Day at the Mount Baker Theatre. But even if it’s not, I’m sure there will more than a few equally hilarious options that will combine both love and laughter.

The new show offered by renowned Chicago-based ensemble—which has produced stars such as Joan Rivers, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Stephen Colbert, and many more in its 50-plus years of existence—is said to be all about relationships, and will come complete with enough sketches, songs and improvisation to fill the night.

“This gaspingly funny revue is a modern mix of romance, rancor and everything in between, making mirth out of all the crazy things we do for love,” read promotional materials for the Sunday-night show.

But that’s not the only improv-based entertainment option to be found on Valentine’s Day. At the Upfront Theatre—which was founded by Bellingham’s own Ryan Stiles, another Second City alum—audiences can catch showings of “Cupid’s Arrow” through the weekend, including a special Valentine’s Day performance.

The show is inspired by the classic 1960s and ’70s show The Dating Game, and has a contestant making a choice from among three outlandish characters inspired by audience suggestions.

For those needing a refresher on the format of the television show, it went something like this: a bachelorette (or bachelor) would question three would-be suitors, who were hidden from the view of the questioner, but not from the audience. Without seeing what they looked like, one would be chosen, and they’d be sent on a date courtesy of the show.

But, unlike The Dating Game, “Cupid’s Arrow” takes the action a step further, following the couple on the romantic outing to see if there’s a love connection, or if the date’s a complete dud. Either way, I’m guessing there’ll be something funny about the situation.

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