The comedian is getting serious about the future of online dating, and he thinks it's time to go video

By Jason Duaine Hahn
February 14, 2020 10:22 AM
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Norm Macdonald is getting serious about the future of online dating, and he believes it’s time to switch things up in a major way this Valentine’s Day.

The comedian and his friend, Vivek Jain, have developed a dating app called Loko, which aims to separate itself from similar services by asking users to rely on video chats to get to know their matches.

The concept comes in stark contrast to most other dating apps, such as Tinder and Bumble, which rely on text messaging as their main form of communication.

“You can have so many first dates on this app. It’s the greatest thing,” Macdonald, 60, tells PEOPLE of Loko, which allows users to have a 15-minute video chat for their first virtual date.

“You could have five, 10, 15 dates in one night if you wanted,” he adds. “People don’t have much time anymore, but your odds are better the more dates you go on. But who has time to go on that many dates? I love that you could go on virtually a thousand dates a week.”

Users of text-based dating apps may be familiar with “ghosting,” when a match abandons a text conversation, never to return again. Trading texts for video means users are forced to be present with their matches and have, well, an actual conversation with them.

The idea for the app was born when Jain, a single parent, was questioned by his children about his love life.

Vivek Jain
Loko

“We have some of these regular movie nights, and my one daughter says to me, ‘Daddy, you always take care of me and my sister, but who takes care of you? You should get a girlfriend.’ It hit me hard,” Jain tells PEOPLE. “You don’t really worry if other people are saying it, but when your kids say something to you, it takes stock over your life.”

Jain tried a wealth of dating apps after his daughter’s comment, but had “zero success.” That’s when he flew to Los Angeles from his home in Canada for a business trip and stopped by to see Macdonald.

“Vivek came over to my place and he was depressed, which I’d never seen him depressed,” Macdonald recalls. “He’s always happy and I’m always depressed. It was wrong, something had to be wrong in the universe.”

“He was just honestly depressed that there wasn’t anything for him, which was interesting,” he continues.

Loko

As Jain vented to his friend, the idea for the app — which launched in 2018 — came into play.

“There are ways to video chat, so why not pull that into an app that allows you to have that first date in the comfort of your own home, and not have to spend the time and money of going out when you don’t know if there’s going to be a connection?” Jain says. “That was the eureka moment. Norm made me realize what the real issue was and then it grew from there.”

Loko is free to sign up, but users will have to fork over $1.49 to use the app for a week, or $3.49 for a month. Having a small paywall helps to ensure users are the real deal, as opposed to being a bot, Jain — who doesn’t use Loko himself — says. So far, tens of thousands of users in cities such as Los Angeles and New York City have downloaded the app.

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While Macdonald had no previous experience with online dating, he believes he’s doing his part to help the younger generation.

“Well, I feel like a super old man trying to save the world from debauchery,” Macdonald says, alluding to other apps that have a reputation for users seeking hook-ups instead of dates. “I think we both want to try to bring a little romance back to life. My god, it can’t go much further the other way. I always think when my buddies tell me all these stories with girls, I go, ‘The world hasn’t changed that much since I knew girls.’ I don’t think these other apps are what people want in life.”