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Meet NYC’s real-life ‘Hitch’: $12K course includes ‘wingman weekends,’ improv class with Tina Fey’s coach

While on the hunt for love in the concrete jungle, wannabe Romeos rarely have the perfect pickup tools in their arsenals.

Sometimes, they just have to improvise.

Even if that means walking up to a complete stranger at a bar and pretending to be a cat.

Barrett (Center) emphasizes the importance of improvisational comedy concepts to NYC clients hoping to land their forever person. Stefano Giovannini for N.Y.Post
Barrett (Center) emphasizes the importance of improvisational comedy concepts to NYC clients hoping to land their forever person. Stefano Giovannini for N.Y.Post

“I recently had my client Alex walk up to a woman at a lounge and begin meowing,” NYC dating coach Connell Barrett, 52, told The Post. “The woman’s face lit up, she laughed — she probably thought it was weird, but a good kind of weird.”

“Alex was having fun,” added Barrett, founder of soulmate-matching service, Dating Transformation. “Being playful through improv is the secret weapon to becoming a better dater.”

And in a “cutthroat” city ranked as one of the worst for finding a happily ever after, solo Gothamites might be wise to heed his theatrical advice.

“Improv is all about Type A men getting out of their heads and leaning into the fun of meeting someone new,” he said. “And about 90% of the time, my clients walk away with a woman’s number or a date.”

Lauded the real-life “Hitch” — although no look-alike to Will Smith’s fictional love doctor in the 2005 rom-com — Barrett advises hapless chaps on using improvisational comedy techniques, taught by acting coach Patrick McCartney, for getting the girl.

Barrett has been nicknamed the real-life “Hitch” owing to his smooth tips for romancing “Mrs. Right.” Stefano Giovannini for N.Y.Post
Barrett has been nicknamed the real-life “Hitch” owing to his smooth tips for romancing “Mrs. Right.” Stefano Giovannini for N.Y.Post

McCartney, who has worked alongside A-list comedians Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, tells The Post he’s seen improv transform bashful wallflowers into charismatic charmers.

“It helps daters connect through fun and laughter,” said the pro-trouper of the renowned The PIT and Second City comedy club. “It’s allowed a lot of [Barrett’s clients] to loosen up and stop overthinking.”

At a cost ranging from $3,000 to $12,000, depending on each romance rookie’s needs and budget, the Manhattan-based Cupid takes socially awkward singletons under his wing for an eight-week workshop in wooing. Guys opting for the less expensive service receive his dating tips and tricks via one-on-one phone and Zoom calls, while bigger spenders get to glean from his wisdom during in-person tutorials.

Depending on how much date-coaching a client needs, Barrett offers his services at a range of prices to suit men of all financial backgrounds. Stefano Giovannini for N.Y.Post
Depending on how much date-coaching a client needs, Barrett offers his services at a range of prices to suit men of all financial backgrounds. Stefano Giovannini for N.Y.Post

The price pupils pay notwithstanding, Barrett teaches each student — often doctors and engineers ages 20 to 75 —the sparky perks of improv practices like “Yes, And” and “Mind Meld.”

The wordplay games force introverted men to de-cocoon as gregarious goofs.

“These exercises can sharpen a guy’s wit, improve their active listening skills and help them get to know a potential partner beyond the typical first-date questions,” said McCartney.

He and Barrett then put students’ know-how to the test.

The duo regularly takes small groups of trainees to hotspots like Barnes & Noble in Union Square or the Broken Shaker rooftop lounge on Lexington Avenue for “wingman weekends.”

On weekend outings, Barrett encourages tutees to practice improv exercises when approaching women at coffee shops, lounges and bars. Stefano Giovannini for N.Y.Post
On weekend outings, Barrett encourages tutees to practice improv exercises when approaching women at coffee shops, lounges and bars. Stefano Giovannini for N.Y.Post

During the two-day intensives, Barrett gives each man a series of kooky improv prompts like, “Go up to that woman and pretend to be a pirate,” or “Act as if you’re a waiter and offer to tell them the breakfast specials.”

Shy guys too scared to complete a challenge are threatened with a funky ultimatum.

“I say, ‘You either walk over there like a man, or I drag you over there in a headlock,’ ” Barrett laughed.

Etienne, 24, accepted the mating mission while out on Barrett’s wingman weekend in August.

Just minutes after practicing a few theater strategies, like dancing wildly in the middle of Washington Square Park and sharing his most embarrassing story with random passersby, the meek Brooklynite tells The Post he was ready for action.

“I saw a cute girl at a coffee shop, broke the ice with a ‘Yes, And’ opener and asked her on a date,” said Etienne, a home-tech product developer from Fort Greene.

The Gen Zer now credits his new romantic relationship to the coaches’ lessons in spontaneous silliness.

Barrett’s client Drayton used his improv techniques to strike up a fun chat with a woman at the bar on Saturday. Stefano Giovannini for N.Y.Post
Barrett’s client Drayton used his improv techniques to strike up a fun chat with a woman at the bar on Saturday. Stefano Giovannini for N.Y.Post

“Improv just takes the pressure off when approaching women,” said Etienne, who withheld his last name for privacy purposes.

“I don’t have to worry about saying or doing the wrong thing, I feel more confident and free,” he added.

“Dating is way less stressful with improv. Now, I’m having fun.”