Comedian Chris Henry is 40, single and looking for The One. He wants to find a special lady to fall in love with, take on 80 dates around the world and ultimately marry. Around the World in 80 Dates could be a cheesy premise but instead turns out to be a hilarious, heartfelt and insightful show about relationship mistakes, vulnerability and the search for lasting love in a digital age.
Scotsman Henry tells the audience he has been single for nine years but states his decision to remain unattached was deliberate following a messy breakup in 2009. He’s seeking inspiration from those who are in happy relationships and asks the crowd who’s paired up and how they met. During the initial audience interactions it becomes clear that some of the Friday night crowd are a little bit tipsy (with some downright pissed). The stand-up does well to rein in the heckling and to largely maintain the rhythm of the show, despite the drunkards’ best efforts to derail proceedings.
In one hilarious skit, the comedian rips apart the cliché-ridden Hollywood romcoms with his sharp wit. He laments the depiction of single people in movies as desperate or sleazy and calls out the shaming single people receive from their married friends, with many of the audience who’ve been in a similar scenario nodding in recognition. Henry has a likeable and excitable stage presence and manages to endear himself to the room even when describing some of his undesirable past behaviours.
After a series of mirth-inducing anecdotes we reach 2017, when the comic decided it was time to stop fucking around and avoiding relationships. Life was good – he was travelling the globe and playing in sold out venues, but the success felt hollow without someone special to share it with. Being on the road for six to eight months a year has its drawbacks and the comedian struggles to find time for meaningful connections. He explores the digital dating culture and comes up with a solution to the issue of women over 40 being undervalued in the online dating space, which is as hilarious as it is astute.
Around the World in 80 Dates is a slick, well-produced show which is elevated from good to great by Henry’s gift for allowing his vulnerability to show, admitting his faults and limitations and his self-reflective style is refreshing, not self-indulgent. The audience leave with the hope that Henry finds The One and returns to the Fringe to tell us what happened next.