Few entertainment genres are as intrinsic to Bustle's identity as the rom com. This week, leading up to Valentine's Day, Bustle is partnering with the podcast Meet Cute to explore the real-life romcoms unfolding all around us. In today's episode, "Clowning Around," a young performer named Orrin attends a show where a fearless, outlandish clown insults everyone in the audience... and leaves Orrin smitten.
Comedy performer Magi Calcagne wrote "Clowning Around" about how they met their partner, the performing artist Dean Evans, and their IRL meet cute isn't one you've ever seen in a Nora Ephron movie. Calcagne attended a sparsely attended show at the Lyric Hyperion, the real-life hub of Los Angeles' small but vibrant clowning community. ("It's where the coolest clowns perform," Calcagne says.) Evans gave an electric performance that at one point involved throwing a ham sandwich at an audience member, who left irate. "I was like, Oh my god, this is the best show ever," Calcagne recalls.
In life, Calcagne was first taken by what Evans was doing artistically and reached out to hear more about his work. Evans' stage name is Honeybuns; he's a bouffon, a type of clown who sets out to mock the audience. Calcagne and Evan's personal relationship evolved from their artistic conversations.
This is a thoroughly queer love story where no one's queerness is part of the plot.
In the Meet Cute, it's Calcagne's character, Orrin, who Evans' projectile hits, a Cupid's arrow in sandwich form, and that's the moment they fall for him.
The characters and dialogue are fresh and unexpected, as is the fact that this is a thoroughly queer love story where no one's queerness is part of the plot. But the Meet Cute also features familiar, beloved rom com tropes. There's a 17-year age difference that Calacgne says is not actually an issue in their relationship but was useful for creating dramatic tension. Orrin's barista wingperson, secret saboteur of patrons' vegan orders, is a sidekick for the ages.
Calcagne is no stranger to podcasting. They have written 10 Meet Cutes and host two podcasts with friends — Popcorn Restaurant, which reviews movie theaters, and The Olsen Report "where we watch Mary Kate and Ashely movies." They also voice act on another friend's narrative podcast Barjory Buffet: The Cruise Detective.
For Calcagne, writing their own relationship as a Meet Cute felt like an artistic opportunity. "I really like the challenge of working with a certain structure," they say. Besides, "What's more exciting than turning your life into a little movie?"
Listen to Magi and Dean's Meet Cute "Clowning Around"; subscribe to Meet Cute for more totally enchanting 15-minute audio rom coms; and stay tuned for the premier of a brand new fictional Meet Cute, "Thief of Love," on Sunday, Feb. 14.
Meet Cute is looking for more real-life love stories to turn into feel-good rom coms! You can send them the story of how you and your partner met here, or DM them on Twitter (@listenmeetcute) or Instagram (@meetcute)!