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City Weekend

Meet the man bringing a comedy show to Hong Kong based on your bad dating stories

Founder of sold-out world tour lets those too shy to speak in front of audience write their stories anonymously for him to read aloud

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 January, 2018, 2:03pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 January, 2018, 2:03pm

A woman went on a date with a man who worked as an accountant. She was nervous before meeting up because she failed maths in high school and wasn’t sure what topic to bring up with him.

“What are your interests?” the accountant texted her before their date.

“Anything that doesn’t involve a calculator,” the woman replied.

For their date, she suggested going salsa dancing, which she loved and was sure would have nothing to do with numbers.

But moments after the two hit the dance floor, the woman – originally attracted to his French accent – lost all interest.

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“He had a strange way of counting out the rhythm when he danced,” she recalls. “He could only dance by counting out loud. We didn’t talk numbers, but he counted his salsa steps the entire night.”

The accountant wanted to take her home, but the woman declined “because I can only imagine that sex would be like ‘1-2-3-4’”.

It’s one of the craziest dating stories in Hong Kong that US stand-up comedian Rachman Blake has heard during his Story Party world tour, an entertainment concept that turns bad dating stories into a gripping live storytelling show.

It’s like turning tragedies into comedies
Rachman Blake, comedian

Story Party originated in San Francisco in 2013 and features professional storytellers sharing true dating tales. It’s played to sold-out audiences in cities far beyond Hong Kong as well, such as Prague and Amsterdam.

Later this month, the show comes to Hong Kong for the third time, and it again invites audience members to share their stories on stage. Those too shy to speak in front of the audience can instead write their stories anonymously and let Blake read them on stage.

“It’s like turning tragedies into comedies,” the 32-year-old show founder says.

“A date can just be tragic and disappointing, and then, with enough time, it can just be hilarious.”

Blake drew inspiration from the many people he had talked to who were unhappy with their dating experiences. They often had interesting stories from their experiences.

“I’d always wanted to travel and perform, but I had no idea how to do it,” he says. “I quickly realised that pretty much everywhere you go, people are not necessarily upset but not really happy with their dating life. Then, I realised we could make a show about dating.”

Blake recalls encountering an abundance of “ridiculous” and “crazy” stories.

“We found out that lots of the stories kind of had the same sort of theme: one-night stands gone wrong and boyfriends or girlfriends being unfaithful,” he says. “There are also lots of good love stories, stories that start with embarrassment but then they ended up staying together.”

During his past Hong Kong visits, Blake learned that a fair number of expats in the city struggle with dating due to cultural differences. He hopes the two-hour show can help them escape the mating game pain, even if only temporarily.

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He adds that many people want to talk about what’s happening in their dating lives but lack a place to share their stories “besides going to the bars where you can get drunk or vent to your friends, who sometimes may not want to hear” them.

“The ultimate goal of Story Party is to let people be themselves, forget about their dating troubles and just laugh. And then feel better at the end.”

Story Party will be held at Fringe Club, Central on January 24 and 25