Just because popular culture has abandoned any sense of class, its audience doesn’t have to follow suit. “What put me over the edge was when people started calling strip clubs ‘gentlemen’s clubs,’ ” says Mike Dugan, the Emmy-winning writer, comedian and creator of Men Fake Foreplay. “Are you kidding me? Who’s supposed to be keeping an eye on that?”
Fearing that respect for the opposite sex—and the healthy relationships that result from it—might be easing itself into extinction, Dugan crafted Men Fake Foreplay, a humorous look at the forces that keep men and women together and the cultural paradigms that have a nasty habit of driving them apart. While the subject matter for Foreplay—both the live show and the book that Dugan wrote while touring the show through Europe—might initially seem a bit cliché, he’s quick to point out that this isn’t just another variation on the Men Are From Mars routine.
“There’s no shortage of male comics that make fun of women and female comics that make fun of men, but there are very few male comics saying, ‘Yeah, women have their idiosyncrasies, but they’re actually pretty cool,’” he explains. “You don’t need to complain about men leaving the toilet seat up or women getting PMS to explore human relationships in a way that’s going to make people laugh.”
Dugan, who won television’s most prestigious award while writing for HBO’s Dennis Miller: Live says the live version of Foreplay is far from being your standard clip show, despite sampling liberally from the book.
From morning shock radio to reality television and daytime talk shows, Dugan doesn’t shy away from the targeting the trends that, he says, are all part of the problem when it comes to developing healthy relationships.
“[Men] have to overcome their adolescent impulses and appetites in order to have successful relationships, but we have to do that in a media and advertising culture whose survival is 100-percent dependent on men continuing to live in those appetites,” he says. “The real whores,” he adds, are shock jocks like Howard Stern, whose career has developed into a monologue of fart jokes and requests for female guests to shed clothing. And unfortunately, he sighs, “The assholes are winning.”
So instead of ignoring the trends (which he compares to “the boorish drunk at a dinner party . . . whipping his dick out and pissing in the punch bowl”), Dugan says he wants to address them head-on—with the hope of showing people how ridiculous many of the negative influences on male-female relationships really are. What started out as an attempt to “figure women out,” he explains, quickly became a more introspective project.
“I’m just trying to reconcile some of those things that we think about and ask, ‘Why is it like that?’ or ‘Why did I do that?’” he explains. “Because it’s pretty clear that my sex drive doesn’t always have my best interests in mind.”