Laughing Stock: The Dating Game, Repeatedly

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Chuck Barris may never die. At least the TV game shows that made him millions—The Gong Show, The Treasure Hunt and The Dating Game—seem immortal. In memory, scratchy videos, sequels and knock offs, they continue to resonate with universal human drives—winning, foraging, mating. Are they popular because the beasts are less daunting in a comical light?

Tucson Comedians Bethany Evans and Mo Urban resurrect The Dating Game at The Flycatcher, 430 E. 6th St., at 9 p.m. on Sunday, July 30; free. Anyone who’d like to find something funny in dating, i.e. anyone who’s ever had or wanted a date, might want to join the fun. Literally.

“We are still looking to fill a spot,” Evans says. “We especially welcome contestants from our LGBTQ community.” Prospective contestants should get their names in as soon as possible, but plans are for the show to be quarterly; you’ll have another chance. Like washing the car to provoke rain, applying for The Dating Game might even inspire the universe to find you a date, meanwhile. Email your interest to thedatinggametucson@gmail.com

“A lot of contestants are comics,” Evans says, “because those are the people Mo and I know. Comics like to play because of the opportunity to improvise. About half of (the contestants) are regular people we know through work or other networks. We really want a lot of diverse people to play the game, though.”

Evans first hosted a dating game in 2003 at Bumsted’s (R.I.P.) at the suggestion of then owner Barb Shuman. In 2015, again at Shuman’s invitation, she brought the show back for five “episodes’ with partner J. Lugo Miller. Miller co-produces the 2017 iteration, taking charge of sound, sound effects and simple props.

Evans says, “The reboot will follow the original format: one bachelor or bachelorette, questioning 3 unseen contestants, and choosing one for a date, based solely on their answers.”

Recalling the Bumsted’s years, Evans says, “It was a blast, I heard a lot of great stories about people’s experiences with it.” Urban, an early contestant, has even woven her Dating Game turn into her comedy routine.

“My experience was so positive I was sad to see it go,” she says. “It wasn’t so much about finding someone. It was more about just putting myself out there.” And that’s just what you have to do.

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