BOTTOM LINE: The live dating game show makes a comeback with this endlessly entertaining, anything-can-happen summer must-see.
If you're single, ready to mingle, and living in Manhattan, you'd think that finding a date in America's most populated urban jungle would be easy – "think" being the operative word. The truth of the matter is it isn't quite as simple as one might expect or, rather, hope. If you consider yourself one of the many unattached-but-still-looking New Yorkers who is over the bar scene and too scared to dabble in the world of online dating (where more often than not creepy personal quotes and bad headshots go to die), I suggest you sign yourself up to "star" in The Fix-Up Show at The Triad. One of the seemingly lucky few who isn't looking for love in all the wrong or right places? Nix the sign-up and buy a ticket to watch someone else do the dirty work as both hilarity and improvisation at its best ensue.
In The Fix-Up Show, one lucky (and pre-selected) Manhattan single (straight, gay, young or old) is set up with one of three eligible bachelors, ultimately chosen by a panel of "experts." This panel consists of three people, two of whom the contestant knows rather intimately and the third a celebrity guest judge (the celeb changes depending on the night you see the show). Emceed by hilarious, doesn't-miss-a-beat veteran television host J. Keith van Straaten (Beat the Geeks), the show plays out like a televised dating game show of yore. The three possible fix-ups each get their own slot in which they are interrogated individually by the panelists which inform their decision on who will be "the one" for their friend/virtual stranger (in the case of the celeb guest panelist).
On the night my unattached cohort and I attended the show, I had the pleasure of watching New York blogger Melissa and resident "single gal" be fixed up after her best male (and married) friend, her personal trainer, and 30 Rock's Scott Adsit interviewed the three potential candidates. Watching Adsit grill potential suitors for Melissa was particularly humorous - as one would expect from a frequent UCB-er and Tina Fey sitcom prodigy. Not only did he prove that he's got the goods to back up his resume, but he also demonstrated that he's got a real flair for dressing (you've got to give it up for a man who can rock a lilac button-down) and proved to be a tough interviewer! Need to get to the truth (and fast) about that guy you're going out with for the first time? Then what you really need is Adsit, resident funnyman and veritable protective father for the evening.
While you may not have Adsit the night that you attend the show, rest assured that you will be at no loss for comedic gold thanks to van Staaten who is, to put it simply, super-fun and clearly adept at being an emcee...which is what you need when you put up this relatively improvised matchmaking show. Live theater stands apart from most other performance mediums largely because it is different every night and leaves the door open for just about anything to happen. So you can only imagine just how different and just how open that door is for a vehicle that has a new cast of characters every performance (van Straaten and his perky sidekick, Patti, aside). Hence, you need the pros to combat the Crazy - which undoubtedly will show up at every performance (much to the dismay of the night's "leading lady/gentleman" but the entertainment of the audience).
I was fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on how you want to look at it), to witness a real piece of work in the form of Bachelor #2 who seemed to put himself in the running for Melissa's heart for little more than the opportunity to shamelessly plug his LES art show, meet (and terrify) Adsit, and get drunk at the bar in the back of the theater when he wasn't being questioned. But I appreciated having him up there - if for nothing else than to shed a little light on the the sometimes grim reality of dating in New York (for every prince, I've been told, there are about 30 frogs). While he may have been the worst possible choice for Melissa (which, fortunately, the panelists noted), he was the best possible choice for inducing gut-wrenching laughter among the crowd and joke set-ups for the host and celebrity guest panelist.
But fear not, potential candidates and concerned bystanders: the other two men who were up for a date with Melissa were practically normal – if not totally cute and successful in their own right. (One was a very attractive Emmy-nominated songwriter with a penchant for going sock-less, the other a modern-day Renaissance man who splits his time between traveling Europe as an opera singer and managing a finance business in Manhattan. The latter was the panelists' unanimous choice in the end.) Whether Melissa found true love with her panelist-chosen suitor or at least had fun on her date, the audience doesn't know. The outcome of the show-paid date isn't revealed until the following performance with a new audience and a new group of singles, sadly). So if you want to find out how it fared, you'll just have to go again - it's safe to say you will not get a repeat performance with a new single, a new panel and a fresh batch of possible fix-ups.
Whether you're single or attached, there really is no excuse not to get your buns up to the Upper West Side to witness the light-hearted fun that is The Fix-Up Show. Maybe you loved "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" or always wished you had enterED yourself in the MTV 90s cult classic "Singled Out." Whatever the reason, there's something for everyone in a show that keeps it this real: "Real celebrities. Real Singles. Real Fun."
(The Fix-Up Show plays at The Triad, 158 West 72nd Street between Broadway and Columbus on the South Side of the Street, through July 22nd with more dates to be announced soon. Performances are Thursday at 9pm. Tickets are $15 cash at the door and $10 in advance with credit/debit card and are available at and are available at smarttix.com. There is a 2 drink minimum, cash only. To enter to be on the show, go to http://thefixupshow.jkeith.net/be-on-the-show.html.)