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101 Rules for Dating (Review)

By Julie York Coppens · June 7th, 2011 · Fringe
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Rule #20: Start things off with a compliment.

101 Rules for Dating (of which you will hear 20 or so…), a relationship seminar from the crack comedy team Megan Venzin and Emily Althaus, will make you laugh. An Art Academy lecture hall, complete with flip-up desks for note-taking, is the perfect setting for this informative yet cozy confessional led by a couple of love experts whose credentials seem dubious, despite the fact that they’re both wearing lab coats.

Rule #4: Have a relationship to begin with.

Seems obvious. But think about it: a show like this only works if the performing pair has a deep well of shared experience and comic sensibility upon which to draw. Improv partners have to trust one another, really listen, and build on one another’s contributions.

Venzin and Althaus, longtime friends familiar to Fringe audiences for last year’s Well-Adjusted Ladies, always do.

Rule #12: Always be able to talk about your feelings.

In fact, the ladies are such intuitive improvisers that the show’s scripted portions, particularly the lead-ins to such gratuitous musical interludes as “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid, feel flat by comparison. The writing is decent, but the delivery is rushed, even mechanical. Venzin and Althaus clearly are at their best when working without a net — for instance, during an inspired video sequence in which the two actors accost strangers in New York City’s Union Square Park and conduct on-the-spot interviews about intimacy. Which leads us to…

Rule #75: Don’t shoot her father.

Actually, this rule has no relevance whatsoever to this review — or, one hopes, to any dating situation in which you might find yourself. Still, it’s better to have this advice and not need it than to need this advice and not have it.

OK, pupils: pencils down. Time for perhaps the most helpful rule of all — one that just might save your marriage, or at least your Saturday night.

Rule #58: When in doubt, make out.

Class dismissed.



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