‘Dating Sucks’ pokes fun at relationships




Robert Dennick Joki turns his eye — and his wit — toward the pitfalls of modern dating in his new show, “Dating Sucks: the Musical,” which will premiere Friday.

“Dating Sucks” is an all-original cabaret-style musical revue presented by Joki’s Rust Belt Theater Company. Joki wrote 14 songs for it, plus a handful of monologues.

Although it comes the weekend after Valentine’s Day, it’s all about humor and not bitterness.

You can tell where Joki’s heart is just by some of the song titles: “High School Vampire Boyfriend,” “WebCamMamma69,” “I Kissed a Squirrel” and “Monogamy Is for Ugly People.”

“I didn’t want it to seem like an anti-Valentine’s Day show,” said Joki. “It pokes fun at relationships and dating, but it’s more of a parody than it is a harsh criticism. Also, I felt like the material would be even more relevant the weekend after the biggest date night of the year.”

The “worst date ever” theme is a big part of the show. So is the world of online dating — which Joki says has an intrinsic flaw.

“Looking for a partner has become like shopping for a car,” he said. “We page through ad after ad, looking for the right make and model. People get to know each other and enter relationships before they ever meet. It takes a matter of minutes to find out everything you could want to know about a prospective partner — a process that used to take weeks, months or even years.

“It sounds like a quick and efficient system but the problem is, that’s not how attraction works. Two people can add up on paper beautifully, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to real life. The result can be devastating. It can also be hilarious. That’s what this show is about.”

Joki directs “Dating Sucks” and is also in the cast, which also includes Rachel Clifford, Nicole Zayas, David Cirelli, Kage Coven, Celena Pollock Coven, Tyler Norris, Beth Farrow and Lynn Sabeh.

“Dating Sucks” comes on the heels of “Evil Dead: the Musical,” Joki’s shlock-horror musical-comedy that made its world premiere in October.

Although “Dating Sucks” hasn’t even opened yet, the prolific Joki already his next musical on the calendar. An experimental piece based on the writings of Edgar Allen Poe, it is scheduled to premiere in September. Joki and local musician Josh Taylor wrote it.

The Poe musical will be part of Rust Belt’s upcoming season, which will be revealed at the opening night of “Dating Sucks.”

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