'True Dating Stories' spills the tea on real-life dating nightmares
Created by brothers Andy and Matt King, True Dating Stories is like This American Life as imagined by the Drunk History crew. In every seven to 10 minute segment, real life storytellers recall their most embarrassing dates, which are then recreated by comedic actors.
Laura is one of storytellers featured in season two.
Whenever the sketch comedian found herself at a house party, Laura knew she held a trump card. Not just a dating story but the dating story. The one so uncomfortable and darkly self-deprecating no one could top it. So when a party-goer would complain in horror about that time when their date didn't even fake reaching for the bill, she would drop in like a house on fire. "Not to brag, but it's hard to one-up me," she boasts.
So when her agent asked if she had any wild dating stories to contribute to the second season of True Dating Stories, Laura knew the time had come to take her lewd party story national.
The result — a wicked tale simply titled Laura (the show intentionally offers no last names) that begins as Machiavellian dog sitting flirt ploy and ends several twists later in a rather unfortunate and uncomfortably long bodily function — is a standout episode in the second season of CBC Comedy's digital series True Dating Stories.
"I've always been fascinated with dating because I'm a serial monogamist," explains Andy King. "I grew up during the golden age of dating television shows: Blind Date, Elimidate, MTV's Next. I used to watch them all with my ex-girlfriend every night before bed. These shows had an interest in fun but they also had a dark sense of humour to them. That just seemed to fit with what we were hoping to do."
It's like a horror movie when you're screaming at the character who's obviously walking into a trap. But it's a true story. - Andy King
When the King brothers came up with the series, they assumed it would be a no brainer for networks but they had little luck — until they came to CBC Scripted Digital, where comedy executive Greig Dymond had previously worked at Toronto alt-weekly The Grid. "They had a dating column [called Dating Diaries] that was the most popular section in the paper, so he was right into it," recalls King.
Dymond's faith was rewarded early on, when the show earned some viral hype courtesy of "Informer" rapper Snow and his fiancee Tara. "He turned out to be the boyfriend of one of the people we used," says King, still somewhat bewildered at his luck. "[Snow] turned out to be an incredible storyteller. The two of them ping-ponging, that was something special."
The first season landed True Dating Stories two nominations at the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards (Best Direction and Best Original Program or Series produced for Digital Media – Non-Fiction). The second season somehow manages to be even wilder than its predecessor, with episodes involving, amongst other unlikely protagonists, crack-smoking doll-lovers and Norwegian philanderers in Mexico.
King, along with his brother and a casting agent, spent over a year finding the right stories for the eight episodes. He says that modern dating has allowed for much richer source material than he ever thought possible when he last single.
I think it's safe to assume there are a lot more failed dates now than there has ever been.- Andy King
"Before online apps, when you went on a date it was probably someone you knew from your circle of friends. Once in a while you'd meet someone random, but for the most part it was someone at least vetted by a friend, and that led to some accountability," he explains. "But once internet dating came around, people started going outside of their regular worlds. People started misrepresenting themselves. I think it's safe to assume there are a lot more failed dates now than there has ever been."
For a story to make the cut though, "you have to sustain several beats in the narrative. We needed stories that have at least three acts. It had to have a lot more juice than someone said something weird on the date."
"You also need a good storyteller," he adds.
Having heard so many tales of comedic woe, King, a veteran actor and producer who has acted, among other notable work, on the AMC series Fargo, says he's discovered something about human nature. "It's a lot stranger than fiction." he laughs. "I found you get these turns that you never expected. It's like a horror movie when you're screaming at the character who's obviously walking into a trap. But it's a true story. You would never write it that way, that's for sure."
For her part, Laura agrees. "I just have the weirdest things happen to me so I'm just going to roll with it," she says. "I love self-deprecating humour. Why not share it to the world?"
Stream it now on CBC Gem
Stream the second season of True Dating Stories on CBC Gem.
Watch the full episode Laura here.