“Hot Date,” the upcoming TV series that married couple Emily Axford and Brian K. Murphy are filming in Chicago this summer, is a case of art imitating life.
Much of the initial inspiration for the show — first an online series for College Humor, and next to be a half-hour show on Pop starting Nov. 8 — did come “from our own lives and experiences,” Axford said at The Winchester restaurant in Wicker Park..
Yet, her husband was quick to add, “now that we’ve been married for a while — and settled into being domesticated — we are now drawing a bit more on our friends’ stories, way more than from our own.”
In the original sketch videos — which have garnered more than 100 million views online — Axford and Murphy wrote and performed three-minute bits having fun with age-old foibles of the process of dating.
One of the funniest vignettes features Murphy being obsessed with only vacationing at various Disney theme parks. He admitted that “is for better or worse, a little too close to home.”
His wife added, “In California, we live about 45 minutes from Disneyland, but now I’ve got Brian to only insist we go there about once a year. When we went to Paris as part of our honeymoon, Brian did ask, ‘Disney … Paris?’
“I went like, ‘No. We’re going to the REAL Paris!’ ”
The couple, who met while both writing for and working at College Humor, are delighted to be filming their expanded TV series in Chicago.
“We did not want to go somewhere like New York or L.A. — cities that have been depicted so much and in so many other shows. When the production people suggested Chicago, it clicked. We wanted someplace that might be a bit more vague for an audience. Plus, there is such a neat tapestry of locations in Chicago,” said Axford.
Along with filming a lot in the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods, “Hot Date” has showcased the Lawry’s restaurant on the Near North Side, in River North, plus spots in Logan Square. The first season will wrap production in Chicago in the middle of August.
The new series is executive produced by Will Arnett, who, along with other well-known (but so far unrevealed) guest stars will make recurring appearances throughout the series this fall and winter.
While Axford and Murphy, married three years, understand that the strength of “Hot Date” is centered on “us playing ourselves,” as Murphy put it, “we are excited to be able to now produce this on a bigger scale.”
His wife agreed. “Now we are expanding everything. With more resources we can build little stories with the characters. The sketches will now be half-hour shows, so they won’t be as one-off as the web series pieces are. We can develop everything in more depth.”
As for gathering raw material, Axford noted, “We really are always observing and listening. Frankly, just walking down a busy street at 2 a.m. can be the mother lode. Outside a bar crawl, watching drunk couples arguing and saying outrageous things to each other can be pretty funny!”
The actress and writer is hoping Pop orders a second season, “just so we can come back to Chicago.”
And next time, it might not even be in the summer. “I live in Los Angeles,” Axford said. “We don’t get winter. I think it would be exciting to experience it.”
Hesitating, she added, “Well, at least once!”