Singles of Denver, we feel for you. Dating is tough nowadays, especially when living in one of the worst cities in the country to find love. Even when you do find that special someone — and by that we mean someone on a dating app that doesn’t have “moved to Denver” as the most spontaneous thing they’ve ever done — first dates can be brutal. The pre-date Instagram stalking, the awkward small talk, the post-date anxiety rethinking every dumb thing you said.
UpDating, the New York favorite comedy dating show, has all that and more. Even better, you get to do it on stage. Headed to Comedy Works Downtown on August 2, hosts Harrison Forman and Brandon Berman are bringing blind dates back to life, and they want you to be a part of it.
Like many blind dates, Harrison Forman and Brandon Berman met through a mutual friend. Forman a producer and Berman a stand-up, the pair kept things platonic for a while, mainly pen-pals who would bounce content ideas off each other. However, it wasn’t long before they decided to take the next step, popping that one big question we wait our whole lives to hear: do you want to host a dating show together?
Formerly an intern on the Howard Stern show, Berman took inspiration from that style of comedy, fascinated by the humor in the unexpected.
“I like watching more of the behind the scenes than the front of the scenes. I’m much more entertained,” said Berman. “I love all that shit that’s really raw, the idea of not knowing what you are going to see.”
Forman was intrigued by just the same, specifically in the world of dating. He began creating dating content, even streaming his dates on Facebook Live. It was through this idea that the pair discovered the world’s incurable obsession with other people’s dating lives and, for some odd reason, our insistence on being a part of it.
“It was the first time where interactive media was turning into something. You weren’t just sitting back and watching, you could commentate. Shows like the Bachelor, you aren’t really a part of it. You can’t comment live,” Forman explained. “Kind of out of nowhere we realized there were no dates that happen in front of an audience, and that would be pretty entertaining.”
Thus, UpDating was born. Berman and Forman joined forces as hosts of the innovative live dating show in September of 2018. Though the show’s format has evolved over time, the set-up remains the same:
Forman and Berman cast two daters prior to the show, who are then blindfolded and interviewed on stage while their date remains in the green room. Still blindfolded, the pair meet on stage for their, quite literal, blind date. The blindfolds then come off, and each report on each other separately to the crowd, before finding out what the other said.
“The first time we ever did it was in the basement of a taqueria, sold out, 20 people laughing the entire time. I remember after that first show we were like ‘there’s something here.’ And it just gradually got better,” said Forman.
The duo has seemingly perfected their 90-minute performance since that first show, moving to bigger venues and attracting a dedicated New York fan base, some of whom have been to over 50 shows.
“It’s like a TV episode. You see a stand-up a few times, they are going to do more or less the same act. UpDating is totally different every single time,” Berman said.
This can largely be credited to the pair’s ability to adapt, to take whatever cards they’ve been handed and role with it. They’ve added new components to the show over the years, like allowing crowd members to crash the date, adding to the sheer and utterly entertaining chaos. But though they may have the power, Berman and Forman are far from in control. At the top of each show, they serve the crowd a warning: “this is reality TV in real-time.”
“With two people, we could really think they are going to hit it off. Then a minute into the show, it’s like ‘shit, they hate each other.’ We’ve done UpDating so many times, now we know our plays — ways to keep it fresh, to make it a 90-minute show. We have no idea what’s going to happen,” Forman said.
“I do credit myself as a performer. If someone got on stage and did a flip into the crowd, I’d make it work,” Berman continued. “I love a heckler, well I don’t love a heckler, but I love watching a heckler. I love the awkwardness of the performer handling that heckler. Harrison, on the other end, can fill the gaps that I don’t fill, and he brings in questions that the audience has that I don’t have. It’s the combination of all these perfect things, just dissecting a date.”
A smashing success in New York City, UpDating is hitting the road, and Berman and Forman eager to explore the dating scenes across the country.
“I’m personally very excited to see this in other cities because dating is a little different everywhere. From a storytelling perspective, the stories in each city will be very different. That’s what’s going to make this show very exciting… We’ve always wanted to be in Denver for this show, there’s just something about it.”
Headed to Comedy Works Downtown on August 2, they are very aware of Denver’s dating rep.
“The dating is apparently very bad [in Denver], people seem like they are dating the earth there,” said Berman.
Consistently voted one of the country’s worst cities for dating, that sums it up pretty well. If you’ve ever tried planning a first date around some guy’s Thursday-Monday “I’m trying to hit 75 days on my Ikon” ski schedule, you’ll know what we mean. But if you’re looking for love in the Mile High, and want the rest of the city to watch as you do so, UpDating is currently looking for Denver singles to cast for the upcoming show.
“We want people who are fun, who don’t take themselves too seriously. That’s a huge part of it. You need to be silly, just having fun,” explained Forman.
If you think you could meet that special someone on the stage of Denver’s most notorious comedy club, you can apply for UpDating through their website, making a video using #castmeondating, or even by sliding into their DM’s.
“I’ll even say to be aggressive. DM us, hit our personals. At the end of the day, people who are most persistent do end up on the show,” said Berman.