Got a few minutes? Early in 2010, as we began planning Star Wars Celebration V with Lucasfilm, "Speed Dating" was one of the notes I had taken down in a meeting. LFL was keen on both making speed dating and a wedding chapel part of the event. I'm none too sure how serious these concepts were at first, but we set about making them real. Here's where things get interesting. Nearly to the day of this meeting, through sheer serendipity, I got an email from a fan and 501st member named Ryan Glitch. He'd attended a number of local speed dating events and ran a few in his hometown in Upstate New York. He wanted to help organize "Star Wars Speed Dating" at Celebration.
As with all proposals like this, my first step was calling Ryan up and ascertaining where he fell on the Stab-Someone-In-The-Eye Crazy Scale. To my shock and delight, despite having a passion for dressing up like Anakin Skywalker and hosting speed dating sessions, the guy was quite sincere and sane. We worked together to present Star Wars Speed Dating at Celebration V.
We gave him an average-sized room and scheduled out a few time slots. Both Ryan and I had high hopes, but we had no clue how it'd actually do. Turns out, it'd do fantastic. All of Ryan's sessions were jam-packed, and we needed to add more on-site. People found genuine love connections, with at least one couple now married who met through Speed Dating at Celebration.
ReedPOP has since worked with Ryan Glitch and the crew of the -- now labeled -- Sci-Fi Speed Dating additionally at both C2E2 2011 and NYCC 2010 and 2011, and we're in talks around what we can do together in 2012. At every event, Ryan's mobbed. We've yet to get Ryan in a room big enough for the demand, and there's always a line out the door. Ryan runs the show with a clear head and clever eye and still dressed as Anakin Skywalker. And people fall in love.
Since our first outing together at Celebration in 2010, Ryan's also gotten some big play in the media. Major names like CNN cover him. It's an interesting beast. On one hand, I know Sci-Fi Speed Dating gets this coverage because it's an easy, zany story to write. On the other, Ryan is genuine about everything he does, so even if news outlets come to him initially because there are nerds in costume trying to find love, Ryan's serious with them. This isn't a joke. It's not done for a laugh. He's trying to make people happy.
Which takes us right up to this year's New York Comic Con. At the same time that Ryan's been getting written up in the mainstream press, the Reality TV world's been knocking on his door. They did a test at C2E2 earlier in the year, and he had a full camera crew with him through the entirety of New York Comic Con. Geek Love is premiering on TLC at 9 PM on December 18th. And if the specials shot at New York Comic Con do well, there'll be more.
It's pretty awesome. Starting with Jeff Kinney, creator of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, getting discovered all the way back at the inaugural NYCC, we've had a long history of creators, artists, writers, and makers getting their big break one way or another at ReedPOP shows, and we couldn't now be happier for Ryan getting this shot on TLC. Yet, while I and the team at ReedPOP are excited, from reading through forums and blogs, I know some fans have concerns with the upcoming specials. Just as press can approach Sci-Fi Speed Dating for a bit of comedy, nerds in costume trying to find love can very easily translate to a joke of a television program. I know, as much as I want Ryan to make it big, I had doubts as the Reality TV deal was coming together. The last thing I wanted to see from all this was something hurtful, something exploitative, or something cruel.
In speaking with Ryan yesterday about the specials, he put it succinctly...
"It's funny, it's sad, it's sweet, and it's real."
Here's the thing to remember, just as Ryan's serious about speed dating and serious with the press, he's damn serious about the TV show. Through it all, all the media, all the filming, and all the buzz, he's still just a kid from Upstate New York who wants people to fall in love, and I love him for that. I wish him the best of luck and hope Geek Love does gangbusters.
Make some time on December 18th for Geek Love on TLC. Ryan will be watching. I'll be watching. And I'd love for you to watch along, too. If you'd like to learn more, head over to Sci-Fi Speed Dating's official Facebook page and read the original announcement about Geek Love at Entertainment Weekly.
My only regret is that they're not using the title for the program I had originally suggested -- Geek Pimp.