Basically, everybody has had a date so bad that they said: “Uh! It was a horror show!”
But on Wednesday, Feb. 13, just in time for Valentine’s Day, Louisville writer and producer Jessica Mathis is taking that common gripe and making it come alive with a series of webisodes called “Dating Horror Stories — As Reenacted by Classic Movie Monsters.”
Possibility City doesn’t always feel so possible, according to Mathis.
“Louisville is actually on a list of the worst cities to date in,” she tells Insider.
While considering the plight of the single person, Mathis was struck by an idea.
“I realized that horror stories and movie monsters — they go together! Why not? So it became a concept I was infatuated with,” she says.
Mathis has done plenty of creating in both high school theater and in the New York City stand-up comedy scene, but her drive for dorkiness is much older.
“I found a photo of myself with neighborhood kids in the ’80s, and they’re all behind me with, like, sheets draped on them and crazy purses on their heads,” she says.
To make her “Dating Horror Stories” project come to life, Mathis had to make a lot of things happen. The first was finding funding, but as soon as she secured that, she moved on to the fun part — writing.
“The stuff that happens in the script, it’s true. They’re true bad dates people told me,” she explains.
Like some horrific version of “This American Life,” Mathis went around collecting bad dating stories.
“I would just ask friends first off, all about their bad dates. I put it on Facebook, too, at one point: ‘If you don’t mind, tell me about your bad dates,’ ” says Mathis.
People didn’t mind at all. Mathis heard a lot of out-there stuff, most of it hilarious. But she did have one story that fell more on the horrible side.
“An African-American man submitted a story about dating a girl … and they were watching the news in a bar and something came on about the KKK. And she said, ‘You know, I really do agree with them on some things.’ ”
Mathis said it was a little bit harder to make that one funny.
“I talked to some of the African-American crew members and actors involved, and we changed it,” she says, adding that the team decided to alter the line and represent the monstrous girlfriend as a ghost wearing a white sheet.
Matching monsters to dire date details was generally a lot more fun, though.
“We had a lady that had a fixation with long beards — she was kind of afraid of them — and then she ended up with somebody with a really long beard,” says Mathis.
So what do you get when you combine unexpected hair, a horrified lady and classic monsters?
“We ended up with the bride of Frankenstein, and then the guy comes in as a really clean-shaven guy … (but) he’s turning into a werewolf.”
While she wasn’t clear on the specifics, Mathis indicated that the “Bride of Frankenstein” webisode includes a face-punching beard puppet. “I have to say, having that beard puppet made was probably my favorite thing.”
To cast those creatures, Mathis — like a lot of Louisville web creators and filmmakers — reached out to people in the local comedy scene.
“I just reached out to people I thought really would be great,” she says. “We have a really awesome comedy scene here in Louisville.”
Finding places to shoot these bad dates was a little harder.
“The interesting thing about something called ‘Dating Horror Stories’ is that you run into people who don’t want to be associated with that,” she admits.
Makes sense, and since a lot of first dates include restaurants, it meant Mathis had to find some restaurants and convince them she could make sure they would end up looking like heroes, not horrors.
“We told them if we were going to show your name, it would be like, ‘Hey, so I took her to this awesome restaurant …’ ”
Lucky for Mathis, her day job as editor-in-chief of Food & Dining Magazine keeps her in the know about which restaurants might dig her sense of humor.
Mathis is excited to let her creatures loose to haunt the night and is already considering continuing her catalog of courting catastrophes, including a possible “Return of the Punching Beard Puppet.”
Be horrified by the premiere of “Dating Horror Stories — As Reenacted by Classic Movie Monsters” on the eve of Valentine’s Day, Feb. 13, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Encore on Fourth, 630 S. Fourth St. The live event will feature the videos, live stage comedy performances and monster-themed body painted models. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at door. Costumes are encouraged.