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Artvoice Weekly Edition » Issue v13n6 (02/06/2014) » Valentine's Day Feature

Failed First Dates

There can be nothing more reassuring than witnessing the failures of others. Thus, for your Valentine’s Day pleasure, we offer Failed First Dates, a recently launched web series of short videos that hilariously portray the perils of the dating life.

Produced by NDstudios (, a local video production comany founded in 2006 by Matthew A. Nardone, Mel Ende, and Andrew Hurd, Failed First Dates is in its first season of 11 episodes. The first eight can be found on YouTube.

Tell us about this web series.

Failed First Dates is a web series about a hopeless single fanboy, Jon Paul Stevens. After a terrible breakup, Jon Paul decides to start dating again, however his first dates end up going terribly, hilariously awry. We loved the notion of doing more comedy, which is a genre that is not done that often locally.

The series is directed by Joe Blodgett, who also serves as Executive Producer along with Matthew A. Nardone. who also serves as Director of Photography. Both serve as series editors with Steven Borowski delivering an original score to each of Season 1’s eleven episodes. The series was written by and stars Bryan Patrick Stoyle, leading a cast of 23 local actors in principal roles, with dozens more serving as extras. All in all, the series had over 100 individuals working to help make this production a reality. Eight of the 11 Season 1 episodes were filmed at Perfetto in Buffalo’s theater district. Additional locations include the Aurora Theatre in East Aurora, Queen City Bookstore in Buffalo, Niagara Climbing Center in North Tonawanda, and Skateland in Lockport.

Why a web series? And why so brief?

The web series format is incredibly accessible for creators to build and distribute entertainment on and can allow for a lot of playing with elements that can be locked in a traditional TV format, such as act length and runtime. Additionally, we have a lot of very dedicated people volunteering their time to our project and it’s important to us that their hard work gets seen by as many people as possible. With a web series, showing their work off is only a link away.

Keeping it short was always a priority. The idea itself—a guy going on many failed first dates—strikes harder in a short form capacity. We could have started the episodes off like many other television series do and have a main “apartment”-like set where we find out how Jon Paul gets all of these dates and have him return back there after every failed attempt, but that takes away from the uniqueness of these episodes. By starting each episode within the date itself we add energy to the episode and keep it alive.

It’s very appealing to offer some fun storytelling that can easily be digested on a mobile device while waiting in a line or during commercial breaks of a TV show, or cheer up a viewer in need of a quick pick-me-up. With our format, our entire first season can be viewed in less than an hour.

What’s the inspiration? Whose first dates are these?

All of the dates are fictional. Some individual episodes are based on real-life elements, though not dates. For example, “Rise” features a debate about Batman that happened between Bryan and a few colleagues presented in a similar manner to a short film that Joe and Bryan worked on and thrown into a date setting.

It’s been quite fun—since starting the series, when most people hear of the concept or see an episode they come back to us with “Oh, you’ll never believe what happened to me on a date…have I got an episode idea for you!”

Right now it centers on Bryan’s character. Will that change? Will other characters develop?

Jon Paul Stevens is the protagonist of the series. His story would have to be completed before actively entertaining the idea, but it’s not out of the question. While Jon Paul will be the focus, other characters will be returning now that they’ve been established. First seasons require laying down a lot of groundwork. Like any show, our recurring characters will certainly be back to help (or hurt) Jon Paul along his path, namely Donny (Jon Paul’s brother), Ashley (a waitress at the restaurant Jon Paul frequents). Chester and Lester (arch enemies to Jon Paul and Donny), and also Kevin (another waiter that rubs Jon Paul the wrong way).

Might there someday be a successful first date for Jon Paul? Or is success just not funny?

Success can be funny, but we don’t believe that is what Failed First Dates is about. Once successful, the reason for the series and the story is over. It turns into just another show about someone’s life, and we all have our own lives to live, so where is the fun in that? Plus all the great series know when to end, and when they plan the ending out, it makes the whole series that much better!

Will You Marry Me?

A few years ago, I asked this woman who I’d met at a concert if she’d like to meet for a drink or a bite to eat some time. We’d really hit it off, she was super good-looking, so I figured what the heck. She said yes, gave me her number, and said I should call.

So I did call, the very next day, and asked her out for the next weekend. What didn’t occur to me was that it was Valentine’s Day weekend. When I realized that, I thought, Oh no…this was suddenly a lot of extra pressure to put on a first date. I hoped she wouldn’t think about it.

But she did. When I picked her up, she was wearing a red dress, and in the car she gave me a Valentine’s Day card she made that said, “Will You Be Mine?” She kind of made a joke of it, but I was getting really nervous. We’d just met.

At the restaurant we went to (and it was hard to get a reservation), everybody was a couple, smiling and holding hands across the table. The menu was special prix fixe, “for lovers only.” They were playing romantic music. I could barely remember her name. I thought, My god, this is so awkward.

So I decided to make a joke of it by saying, “Well, I guess you’ve figured it out. I asked you out tonight so I could ask you: Will you marry me.”

She looked shocked, then serious, then she said, “Yes.” My mouth dropped open. Then she laughed and said, “Relax, this is weird for me, too.”

With that, we proceeded to have a terrific time. All night long we pretended we were an old married couple, renewing our romance. It was terrific, and we saw each other again the next weekend, and the weekend after that. We dated for a year. And the next Valentine’s Day, I asked her to marry me for real. And she said yes again.

- Frank L. Booth

An Ocean Apart

This is a story about a young married woman and a man separated by the United States and the Pacific Ocean.

We were united in marriage on September 23, 1967. After our honeymoon we returned to South Carolina. As you can guess, I was in the US Army stationed at Fort Jackson in South Carolina. We lived off base in Dentsville, South Carolina as honeymooners from October to November. In November I was informed that my next duty station was in Vietnam, starting in January 1968. When I was leaving our home in Buffalo, I was leaving a beautiful, newly pregnant wife. The only communication we had when I was overseas was letters (no phones or computers).

So when Valentine’s Day came my wonderful wife was at her family’s home in South Buffalo and I was in a tower on the greenline at Camp Radcliffe in the Central Highlands near An Khe, Vietnam holding my rifle instead of my pregnant bride. There was no romance in this setting. So that is my story of a sad Valentine’s Day.

- Paul R. Dlugosz, Former Specialist 5, US Army, 1st Cavalry Division Air Mobile

Happy V-Day To Me!

My worst Valentine’s Day began with a phone call from the boy I was dating for a year. He called me up and told me that he had unexpected bills he needed to pay and asked if we could have a simple movie night until his paycheck arrived, then he would treat me out for a nice dinner.

Trying to be an understandable girlfriend, I agreed and changed into my pajamas for the night. The doorbell rang and I went to unlock the door to let him in. To my surprise he was dressed in nice work pants, a red button-up shirt, and a black tie. This was not his normal attire. I got excited and began to think he was joking around and actually was surprising me with a night out! I gave him a big hug and with excitement asked him where we were going. He laughed and said, “This is your surprise!”

He’d spent the rest of his money on this nice Valentine’s Day outfit for himself, therefore he could not afford to take me out to dinner. It was like getting an Oreo and realizing that someone already ate the cream-filling center.

When the next paycheck arrived, he did not get me dinner, he surprised me again with a tattoo for himself. Happy Valentine’s Day!

- Logan Reedy

What Are You Doing For Valentine’s Day?

A single friend recently suggested that the ideal way to meet new people would be a singles night at Wegmans: You know, an evening where the unattached could roam the aisles, check out each other’s groceries, share a sample of stuffed mushrooms and hot peppers, and exchange flirty small talk.

We hope that Danny Wegman considers the idea. Meantime, for many who are already in relationships, a trip to the grocery store practically is a date. Valentine’s Day is a convenient annual opportunity to remedy that problem, to break routine and re-establish romance. If that’s the boat you’re in, here are some ideas for that special weekend:

Valentine's Day wine and chocolate pairing event along the Niagara Wine Trail

February 14-16. The 20 wineries along the Niagara Wine Trail USA will pair their wines with local chocolatiers’ decadent chocolate and other sweet desserts. Each ticket ($30 advance, $35 day of) is valid for all three days of the event, and includes a wine glass from a starting winery of your choice, three tastes of wine and a pairing sample at each of the participating wineries. Tickets and a complete list of featured pairings can be found at

Horse-riding lessons at Spruce Meadow Farm

For $105, this Clarence equestrian center will teach you and your date to groom and tack up your horses, offer some riding instruction, engage you in a couples game on horseback, and send you on your way with a gift bag and a 4x6 photo of the two of you on your mounts. For more information, visit or call 741-2346.

Dinner and dancing at Kleinhans Music Hall

A romantic evening of dinner and dancing on February 14 in the hall’s Mary Seaton Room. A dinner catered by Oliver’s Restaurant will include carving stations, salad and dessert selections, and a complimentary glass of champagne. The Jim Tudini Big Band, featuring jazz legend Bobby Militello, will provide the music for post-dinner dancing. A cash bar opens at 6:30pm, dinner at 7pm, and dancing until 11pm. $179 per couple. To make a reservation, call 885-0331 ext. 424 or visit

Terror Technologies Buffalo Zombies for Charity at the Hotel Lafayette

Is it a spooky kind of love? Then take him to Buffalo’s third annual Valentines Vampires Masquerade Ball for Charity, February 14. Advance tickets available at

Valentine’s Day Full Moon Stroll at Tifft Nature Preserve

February 14, 6-7:30 pm. Enjoy the full moon rising and the crisp air as you stroll through Tifft’s trails, then finish with hot chocolate in Tifft’s cabin. Non-members: $6. Buffalo Museum of Science members save 10 percent. Snowshoe rentals additional $2 per person, weather permitting. Pre-registration required: Call 825-6397.

Buffalo Gay Mens Chorus: All You Need is Love Cabaret

February 15, 7-11pm at Hamlin House. Join the men of the Buffalo Gay Men’s Chorus for an intimate evening as they perform a cabaret featuring songs about love, commitment, friendship, and being together. Come with a date or with friends. Tables will seat eight people and are open seating. Tickets are $40 per person. Admission includes a two-hour open bar, hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, and a huge variety of decadent desserts. Call 883-1277 or visit

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