TLC is letting its geek flag fly with a new, two-part special titled Geek Love. The special follows Ryan Glitch, founder of Sci-Fi Speed Dating, as he sets up speed dating events at comic conventions for his fellow geeks.
“The thing these people all have in common is that they’re really passionate about the thing they’re into. Even if they don’t like the same stuff, they’ve got a huge passion they can build from,” Glitch says. “It’s what makes my speed dating work a little better than the average.” Click through for a clip from Sunday’s nerd-tastic two-part special, and then read on for our chat with Glitch. Geek Love airs Sunday on TLC at 9 p.m.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How exactly did Sci-Fi Speed Dating begin?
RYAN GLITCH: I tried speed dating at another convention. I don’t want to be mean, but it was a joke. People were getting up and leaving halfway through. It was not fun, and they were really long dates. Eight minutes is a long time to cold-talk to somebody!… They had a convention coming up called Celebration 5, and they had an idea submission [form] on the main website. I wanted to see speed dating. I figured somebody else could do it better. [We emailed back and forth], and the email had a contract in it to run it.
How did it take off from there?
I got a couple of friends together and we tried it out at a small community college. It went really well. Then, we went to Celebration 5 and it just exploded. We had to turn away about 1,000 people over the weekend. It just kind of snowballed from there. Other conventions heard about it, and it just snowballed into what it is. I filled out some paperwork to make it a real business so I didn’t get caught cheating or anything. Then, I made a Facebook page and some business cards.
Is Sci-Fi Speed Dating your only job?
Not yet. If the show goes to series — with a little luck — I could make it my main job.
So is that the goal? To turn this into a full-time gig?
If I could get that to happen, I could do a lot of good. I could help a lot more people meet. Everybody that I work with in my crew — cause it’s not just me; I’ve got a crew of six people who are awesome — we’ve all talked about wanting to donate some of our money to charity, which we’d really like to do. We honestly don’t care if we make a dime. If we keep getting to go to conventions for free and help people, we’re game on. We’re not here to exploit this. We’re just here to do a good job, and have fun. That’s one thing we’re trying to stick by.
And what about your success rate? Do people really find love at Sci-Fi Speed Dating?
Yeah. Somebody had a shotgun wedding, they keep in touch. They’re happy. Another couple is engaged. They’re getting married soon. I’m actually DJ-ing their wedding, which is very cool. I keep in touch with most of the people. I’m probably up to 25 or 30 couples who are dating seriously from it. I don’t know how many participants we’ve had. We’ve probably had thousands of participants, but if even one couple makes it and is happy, then I’ve done my job.
Didn’t you meet your current girlfriend at Sci-Fi Speed Dating?
Yes. I met Tracy at the first one. She was a participant. I walked out and saw her. She had a fresh tattoo of the Jedi Order. I pointed to her, and I was like, “Dude, I’m going to marry her.”
So are you going to marry her? Are you engaged?
Not yet. It’s coming. But I can’t reveal any details, lest she read them. We’ve talked about it. She knows I’m going to ask.
What would you say to get people to watch the show who are skeptical of this kind of TLC niche programming?
Just picture Superman and Wonder Woman getting together and having 14 little people children all opening a bakery. TLC would be set for life! [Laughs] No, I’m kidding. The thing I’d tell them: Everybody is looking for that special someone. And here are people who happen to be extreme fans. Step into our world for a little bit.