While Season 26 of “The Bachelor” airs on ABC, audiences can enjoy “Bachelor: The Unauthorized Parody Musical” at Apollo Theater Chicago. The new show is the brainchild of Upright Citizen’s Brigade alum Richelle Meiss. In between co-hosting “The Bachelor” recap podcast “Walk You Out,” the witty writer took time to chat with Rebellious.
Janet Arvia: I heard on your podcast that the shoot/courtship time on “The Bachelor” is only three weeks. Knowing this, it makes sense that the series only generated a handful of marriages.
Richelle Meiss: Please excuse me while I get philosophical here. People love “The Bachelor” despite its terrible track record because it represents a primal experience: finding your partner. The stories that we love to hear over and over (and that have existed basically since the beginning of humanity) are those that help us transition to new stages in our life.
Love stories teach us how to “leave our parents/the single life” to join with a new person. They remind us that it’s OK to be scared and fail because it’s a difficult period of growth. And since we as a society lack most of the rituals that help us move through life, “The Bachelor” has become sort of a modern-day myth that keeps getting told over and over with slight variations.
JA: Which couples did you most root for and/or want to break up?
RM: I was a huge Hannah Brown/Tyler C. fan, and we all know how that turned out (sad face). I was also pretty invested in Tayshia and Zac, but alas. Most of the couples I didn’t want to stay together (Arie and Lauren, JoJo and Jordan) are the ones who’ve stood the test of time. Maybe because they had less pressure to stay together?
JA: They “found their person.” Where did that phrase come from and can we make it go away?
RM: Haha! I think it came from “Grey’s Anatomy,” which is ironic because (as a geriatric millennial) that was the only show besides “The Bachelor” I watched religiously in college. I’m sorry to break it to you, but as long as we live in a mostly heteronormative, monogomous society, I don’t think that phrase is going anywhere.
JA: What does the popularity of the franchise say about society’s expectations of dating and finding love?
RM: I think it speaks to both the lack of romance and complexity of modern-day dating. Today you’re lucky to get dinner paid for, much less a helicopter ride. People swipe indefinitely on dating apps, searching for the next best thing. We’re left getting our romance fix on overly-produced reality TV.
JA: Speaking of, which do prefer: “Bachelor in Paradise,” “Bachelor Pad,” “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette”?
RM: “Bachelor Pad” of course!! The messiness! Thank you for including that on the list. Producers, if you’re reading, please bring it back!
JA: You perform stand-up, co-host the podcast “Walk You Out” and are a comedy writer. How does the creative process differ?
RM: In college as a theater major, I got told that I had too many diverse interests. But I think they’ve all informed each other. Stand-up has taught me how to structure and time jokes. Podcasting taught me how to pick apart the small funny moments and be authentic. And I’ve been doing musical theater since I was five, so it’s like riding a bike. But as someone who felt like an outsider growing up, at the root of all of these creative endeavors is the joy of connecting and laughing with people.
JA: And can audiences expect that from “Bachelor: The Unauthorized Parody Musical?”
RM: You can expect jokes that anyone with a pulse will understand, lots of insider moments (like contestants lamenting about not being able to eat the food), and hilarious, catchy songs that you’ll leave the theater singing.
JA: Those songs include “Sob Story,” “Two-On-One Tango,” and “The Date Card is a Riddle.” You wrote the lyrics and Sam Johnides and Tony Gonzalez composed the music.
RM: It’s been an incredibly collaborative process, and I can’t wait for audiences to see what we’ve put together.
“Bachelor: The Unauthorized Parody Musical” is presented by Right Angle Entertainment and premieres at Apollo Theater Chicago through Feb. 13, 2022. For tickets to the 75-minute musical, visit Ticketmaster.com or call (773) 935-6100. Recommended for ages 13+.