Meet the comedy writers behind Grindr’s first scripted TV series

CHICAGO, Ill. (WGN) — In 2017, Frank Spiro and John Onieal had just arrived in Chicago.

They were part of the first class at the Second City Film School, the only school in the world devoted exclusively to the study and production of comedy, becoming random roommates in an apartment.

“Frank and I both moved to Chicago, which we consider the mecca of comedy,” Onieal said. “It was an exciting opportunity for us to study comedy and also learn how to put comedy on screen, how to write for that, how to direct for that and how to produce for that.”

As roommates and classmates, they began to collaborate on scripts.

“John and Frank like to be in-person, in the same room, riff off of each other. It’s like improv,” said Mariano DiMarco, a screenwriting instructor at the Second City Film School. “It’s just like improvising. You riff off each other. You listen and you respond.”

It was in the DiMarco film-writing class that Onieal developed an idea for a TV series called “Bridesman.”

He co-wrote the script with Sprio, and now “Bridesman” has been produced as the first original scripted series from Grindr, the popular queer social-networking app. It seems like an odd pairing: a hook-up app with a comedy series, but it’s being touted as a new way to engage the app’s 27 million users.

“First and foremost, it’s no secret that scripted original content is one of the world’s greatest aphrodisiacs,” Spiro said. “So I think it is only a natural fit to partner with Grindr.”

“Bridesman” is the story of a single gay man who returns to his hometown to be in his childhood friend’s wedding party — the lone “bridesman” among the bridesmaids. Onieal describes the main character, played by Jimmy Fowlie, as “gay and awful.” Fowlie’s character spends the six episodes trying to undermine the whole affair.

“He loves his best friend so much that he thinks he needs to save her from this boring life of marriage and monogamy so he goes to save her from that, and the reality is he learns a lot about how relationships are recognized and how they can be different and appreciated, and friendship is one of those relationships,” Onieal said.

The series consists of six roughly 10-minute episodes, each one fast-paced and packed with jokes.

“I think our approach to writing comedy is really about taking advantage of opportunities because that’s what screenwriting is. It’s you giving yourself opportunities to take advantage of. Every line of dialogue, every action is an opportunity,” Spiro said.

The show launched on Grindr and YouTube this week, and so far the series has logged more than 1 million views.

“I think the way that it’s delivered is just meeting people where they are, meeting people where their eyeballs are, which is Grindr,” Onieal said. “People are spending more time on their phones. They’re taking in content on their phones and this is just a great opportunity for everybody to get to see our voice, our story, our jokes, right where their eyes are.”

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