What I’ve Learned About Rom-Coms


They start off not liking each other, but then end up falling in love: classic Rom-Com trope

I Love Rom-Coms

I’m guesting with the Modjeska Playhouse this weekend as we put on an improvised Rom-Com. That’s right, we’re going to have love triangles, quirky best friends, cute-meets, unsupportive lovers and bad spouses, love epiphanies followed by travel montages, small businesses fighting corporate raiders, food, the spirit of post-Genesis Peter Gabriel. 

And I love it all! I bleed Rom-Com —French Kiss taught me that the damaged bad-boy stihck works if you have a heart; Just One of the Guys showed me that friendship has to come before love; and Mr. Deeds taught me that love has the power to redeem if we learn to withhold judgement, listen always, and accept people unconditionally.

Here’s what I’ve learned 

  • It takes a village; every player has a function in the Rom-Com. Basically, we are a football team that needs both a running game with a passing quarterback while having a bad-ass defense and spectacular special teams. 
  • Falling in love is never the goal. Falling in love is always a consequence of a larger goal. 
  • Love has to be fought for; love never comes fast and easy. 
  • For the audience to be captivated, they have to want to see these people together while obstacles are thrown their way that prevent that from happening. 
  • Problem Child 2 is better than Problem Child, but John Ritter kicks ass in both, and I think I do characters that channel his classic good-guy-that-gets-shit-on-because-he-is-so-selfless stihck.  
  • Basic premise of all Rom-Coms: The lead’s life is disrupted tremendously, and he or she stumbles upon love as they try to get back to a new normal. 
  • The audience needs to empathize with the hero in order to root for him or her and invest emotionally. 
  • So in essence, the hero can’t be an immoral d-bag who is hard to cheer for. 
  • For some reason, The Wedding Singer seems like the quintessential Rom-Com of all time. It has two wonderful leads who are easy to get behind, a sleazy villain, the quirky best friends, and a large ensemble of zany characters —Robert Smigel’s pervy chef, the rapping grandma, the fat Jewish kid who cops a butt feel from Drew Barrymore. 
  • Love is sudden, shocking, and enthralling. Since we’re not looking for love when we fall into it, it’s harder to articulate what we’re feeling while we navigate the mess that is being-in-love. 
  • Phil Collins “Against All Odds” is playing in my head. 

Join the Modjeska Playhouse this weekend for Spontaneous Rom-Com: A Night of Improvised Relationships. Shows are on March 11 & 12, and they run 90minutes. Tickets are $10. Buy tickets at https://www.mphstage.org/tickets/


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