Podcast News·Q&A

Let's Make A Rom-Com, three comedians said. This Valentine's Day, their podcast is getting serious about love.

An eight-part adventure through the creative process as three comedians try writing a romantic comedy script — with help from actors, producers and Hollywood screenwriting pros.

Maddy Kelly, Ryan Beil and Mark Chavez are back in the writers’ room after the success of Let’s Make a Sci-Fi

An illustration of Let’s Make a Rom-Com hosts Ryan Beil, Maddy Kelly and Mark Chavez. Both Ryan and Mark gaze at Maddy - who is smiling in the middle between the two. Maddy is holding a bouquet of red, pink and white flowers. The large white and yellow text reads, “ Let’s Make a Rom-Com.” The illustration background has a blue sky with clouds and red and pink roses.
(Artwork by: Ben Shannon)

All Maddy Kelly has ever wanted to do is write a fresh and funny, heartfelt romantic comedy. 

With Let's Make A Sci-Fi, one of The New Yorker's "Best Podcasts of 2022", she helped realize her co-host Ryan Beil's dream alongside their comedy-writing buddy Mark Chavez. But now, the team is back in their writers' room — and getting serious about love.

Let's Make a Rom-Com is an eight-part adventure through their creative process, as they try to balance love and laughs in a brand new movie script. Maddy and the boys will explore what it takes to make a romantic comedy, the cultural impact of rom-coms and whether three people with very different lived experiences can write a love story.

When they run into trouble, they'll have help from Hollywood experts, including rom-com screenwriting royalty Kirsten Smith (Legally Blonde, 10 Things I Hate About You), blockbuster director Ol Parker (Ticket to Paradise, Mama Mia II), comedian Phoebe Robinson (2 Dope Queens), as well as agents and actors. In the final episode, the hosts will pitch their screenplay and see if sparks fly. 

Do you think that the three hosts can write a loveable rom-com? CBC Podcasts put them to the test, asking them to share more about the podcast and their process. Here is part of that conversation.

Maddy, what rom-coms inspired you to create your own? What elements from those movies stood out to you?

Maddy Kelly: We were all super inspired by When Harry Met Sally. It's considered one of the greatest rom-coms of all time from pretty much everyone that likes rom-coms. It has this crazy combination of really good dialogue and great jokes ... but also, it's an opposites attract story that you kind of get on board with.

I think all of us have an inner cynic like Harry and an inner romantic like Sally — and it's funny to watch them kind of battle it out. Also, they're wearing a lot of sweaters. They're eating pie. They're in bookstores. It's just got that good rom-com feel that you want it to have. I was definitely like, 'We have to end this during autumn. It's the most romantic season.'  

What can you tell us about the steamy couple starring in your story? Who are they — and what's their chemistry?

MK: Our steamy couple is Greg and Catalina.

Greg is a very buttoned-up, classic guy. He is very charming, very effortless. And he's got these great family values, like he runs his family's grocery store. He's very community-minded. It's been discussed that he sponsors a child's Little League team where he doesn't know anyone. Which is not creepy, it's cute in the movie. 

Catalina? Wild past. She's always kind of been rough around the edges a little bit. She'll get into a bar fight if she needs to…. She has fiery red hair — but that might not be the case in any film adaptations. Catalina has some self-esteem issues. She's not as secure as Greg, and that has led her to dating a lot of underachievers, let's say. So to be with someone stable and easygoing like Greg is a challenge for her because she's used to kind of feeling like she belongs in a relationship because she has something to give the other person. But what if she has something to receive? What happens then? 

And I don't know if it's a spoiler, but Greg's ex-girlfriend is the actress Salma Hayek. 

Maddy Kelly (on the right) and Mark Chavez ( on the left) are photographed in-studio while recording an episode of Let’s Make a Rom-Com. Maddy is wearing a beige cardigan and sitting behind a microphone. Mark is wearing a t-shirt while writing on a blue posted note.
(Submitted by: Kelly&Kelly )

Ryan, it's no secret that you're doing things Maddy's way this season after the success of Let's Make a Sci-Fi. In the process of creating the characters and writing their hilariously romantic story, there's one pivotal moment where it all begins — and that's the meet cute. What do you think makes a meet cute, well, cute?

Ryan Beil: I think a good meet cute should be relatable. I think it should be cute, for sure, but I think it should feel like it can happen to you — to anyone. I think we see meet cutes happen or potential meet cutes happen all the time, when we're in line at the grocery store or in line at the coffee shop, or when you see two people spill something on an airplane.

It should also be surprising. It should not come out of absolutely nowhere, but I think it should surprise you in a delightful, charming way. We love surprises in our media, in our TV shows and what not. So it should be surprising and fun and relatable. 

If you had to pick a character from any rom-com who you most identify with, who would it be and why?

RB: The main character, Mike Myers' character, in So I Married An Axe Murderer. I think it's Stewart Mackenzie. Or is it Charlie? I'm not sure. Anyways, the Mike Myers character … because of my love for the beatniks? No, I don't know. I don't think I have as much of a fear of commitment as that character did, but I do devote myself to art forms that don't pay very well, so there's that. And I love Mike Myers, so I'm going with that. 

[Note: In So I Married An Axe Murderer, Myers played Charlie Mackenzie, a man afraid of commitment until he meets Harriet Michaels (Nancy Travis), who works at a butcher shop and may be a serial killer. Myers also played the role of Charlie's father, Stuart.]

(left to right) Ryan Beil, Mark Chavez, and Maddy Kelly are sitting around a table with three microphones while recording an episode of Let’s Make a Rom-Com in-studio. A producer is wearing a pair of headphones in the background.
(Submitted by: Kelly&Kelly)

Mark, we got a hot tip that you turned to your own love story for inspiration on this series and it comes from an unexpected place: emails you submitted to Immigration Canada — proving you and your wife were a completely real couple. Can you tell us the whole story? And how did it end up influencing the script?

Mark Chavez: So for a writing exercise, we all brought in personal letters and things that we had written to our partners, and I brought in a stack of emails that I had to send to Immigration Canada that proved that we were, in fact, in a relationship so I could get my permanent resident status here in Canada. 

Those emails that they want to see, they need to prove romance. They need to prove that you are in a loving relationship and that it's a marriage that is not based on convenience or, you know, trying to get me resident status solely. So those emails would have to have like a little bit of like love talk and they'd span kind of a few years. And the issue there is that every one of [those emails] that I would look through … it would just be a little bit too hot to send to Immigration Canada. So there's just a select few that had enough romance, but didn't cross a line and weren't businessy. Long story short, I got my residency status — and it's actually, it's up for renewal this year, so I'm going to have to do some more paperwork, I guess. 

Oh, and it didn't end up influencing the story that we stuck with at all. It was great to bring in, it was good fodder. We laughed a lot. It was quite confronting and a little bit embarrassing to read this stuff, but, you know, I trust my co-hosts and it was fun.

If you had to pick a character from any rom-com who you'd fall in love with… who would it be and why?

MC: I don't know. Maybe Cameron Diaz in There's Something About Mary. Or Cameron Diaz in My Best Friend's Wedding. Or maybe Cameron Diaz in Sex Tape. Basically Cameron Diaz, I guess because she's Cameron Diaz.

Written & produced by Mehek Mazhar.