My Experience With Speed Dating

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I’ve done a lot of crazy things in my 44 years thus far. Some of them make others scratch their heads, some make me scratch my own head and wonder what I was thinking.

Among my peer group I have been the leader when it comes to stepping out of the proverbial comfort zone to try something daring, exciting and new. I was starting three years in a federal prison in the face, I’ve done comedy in Los Angeles, I’ve been unemployed, homeless and broke. But of all those things, I had thought that doing stand-up comedy was the ballsiest, most gutsy, brave and daring thing I have done.

until tonight

For some reason, I decided to attend a speed dating event that I just got home from a few minutes ago. There are many parallels to comedy here, so bear with me while I explain them. You might wonder why in the world I would talk about this in my blog, but if you haven’t been paying attention at all, I always get judged. People talk behind my back and to my face daily. I know it happens. So I might as well be as up front, as forthcoming and as authentic as I can.

I thought speed dating would be fun, and for the most part, it was. I was not sure what to expect going in, but that uncertainty did not prevent me from trying.

The first question is why would I go? People who aren’t that amazed I do comedy were completely taken aback by the fact I would do speed dating.

Johnny carson once said that he feels great in front of a crowd but full of anxiety and fear when he is alone with someone or in a small group of people. Now I get his fear. I totally understand it. He said that being alone with someone or in a small group bothered him because he felt like he wasn’t in control. As a comedian, as a performer, we have an incessant need to be liked, to be loved. Having a room full of people judge you isn’t a bad thing, because as a comedian you should be prepared for that and have a contingency plan if things go sideways. However, in speed dating, tonight I met 11 women as there were an equal number of men and women. You had four minutes with each.

I spent far too much time in front of the mirror before I left the house, trying to fix my hair just right. I wore my new rainbow coloured socks and my teal dress shirt. I felt uneasy at first, but then for a while my comedic training took over and I felt not necessarily confident per se, but comfortable in my own skin, knowing I am a putz. When you have failed miserably on stage, there is a certain level of comfort you feel in knowing you’ve been through the fire before, how bad can it be, right?

Well, at the start of the night, they had the guys and gals all in a circle. Then the host had a roll of toilet paper. She passed it around and asked everyone to take as much as they need. Then, when everyone finished, she mentioned that each square you took meant you had to say one thing about yourself.

I took six squares. Six things about myself. How tough is that?

Well, I was towards the end of the circle, and when it started to get closer and closer to my turn, my heart started to race. I was thinking what in the world is this feeling? I’ve never felt this in years. Is this normal?

I knew what I would say, but still, to have a room full of single women for the purpose of meeting people, to stand there and know you are being judged on some level, was terrifying. So, when it came to my turn, I did the only thing I knew how to do.

I got big laughs

The first thing I said is, after I looked at my name tag, the host said “okay Trevor, you’re next.” I said “well, my name spelled backwards is Rovert.” Everyone laughed, including the ladies. They got the biggest kick out of it. I got the most laughs out of anyone there who talked about themselves at the start. I also said that I have awesome socks, which I did because I wore my new rainbow dress socks I got from The Shoe Boutique.

You couldn’t talk about your job or where you live, so you had to talk about everything else under the sun. They had a list of ice breaker questions you could ask to get to know the other person better. I found that when I talked, the woman sitting across from me seemed engaged and interested in what I was saying. Then again, only having four minutes to chat isn’t enough to get a sense of a person, as once the event was over you could tell that one of two of the women were able to let their guard down, you know what I mean? If you are paying 35 bucks for a ticket, you do so with the expectation that you will be bringing your best foot forward to make a good impression. By the way, out of all the guys there, I was easily by far, the best dressed.

Anyhow, we got started around 7:15 and went til around 9:00. Most of them were really good to talk to, but you could tell that everyone was trying to put their best foot forward.

Once the night was over, people were free to mingle and kinda hang out and talk. You could then talk about what you did for a living or talk about where you lived. I could get the sense that after the event ended, there was a certain look of relief on the faces of the women attending, or maybe they just had that look because they didn’t have to converse with me any further. You could tell that some of them were relieved to have made it thru, maybe being a bit out of their comfort zone.

Anyhow, at the end of the night there were a couple of tables that paired off with two people and continued to chat after the event was over. I chatted with a couple of ladies at the conclusion of the event, and they seemed happy it was over, you know, like you were battling your nerves throughout, and it got better as the night went along, but at the end of it all, you’re glad when it’s finished?

I forget what it’s like to have somebody be interested in you. Heck, I’ve never had anybody interested in me who wasn’t broken in some fashion (being phony, hiding the hurt, etc). Maybe I am not cut out for anybody real and true. Being well dressed and funnier than the rest doesn’t get you very far, yet at a comedy show I can tell where the single women are because they are the ones that will gravitate towards the comics at the end of the show, as laughter is an aphrodisiac. Then again, there is a certain level of funny that one would have to hit, in order for that to happen. I’ve never hit that level, and probably never will. While there is room for every comedian to get their share of laughs, my share is a relatively small piece of the comedy pie. Always have been, and always will be.

Rejection by an audience doesn’t feel good, but at the same time it’s easier to deal with because you had contingency plans in your back pocket to bring the audience back around. However, when you are just in front of one single person, it becomes more difficult to get that type of control. The four minutes fly by, it feels as if you really haven’t said anything at all, having to make a snap judgement when filling out your date cards on how you want to proceed.

It’s always been a struggle to attract the attention of anybody, whether it be a comedy audience, an employer that’s interviewing me for a job, or a single woman for a date or relationship.

Now, the day after is the most nerve wracking part. Tomorrow, the organizers of the event will send you the contact information of the people you matched with…..that is, if you got any matches at all.

I doubt that I did.

You know it’s going to be a long night ahead, when you get home and the first thing you do is watch the Joel Osteen videos on Facebook to cheer you up and make you realize that you do have value and a purpose.

Stand-up comedy is a breeze. Speed dating though, that’s far more challenging, more fearful and challenging than any comedy show could be. The worst part of it is, there is no amount of rehearsal, no amount of preparation you can undertake to be successful. You just have to be the best you that you can be, the authentic you.

Comedy usually doesn’t leave me feeling deflated (aside from the recent Regina show), because I always know there will be another chance to make things right. I’ve been talking to women and meeting people for way longer than I have been doing stand-up, yet speed dating truly feels like you are out in the middle of a storm on a capsized boat, with no life raft in sight. It’s an amazing concept and tons of fun. Will I try it again? Probably. When? That’s the tough part.

Of my new core values, self-esteem and confidence weren’t anywhere on the list of my top seven. Then again, if I had self-esteem and confidence, why would I try stand-up comedy?

Maybe I’m just meant to be Trevor Dean, the well dressed, kinda creepy, kinda awkward single guy comedian.

What do you think?

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