Anyone who’s spent time in the world of online dating knows it can be a treasure trove of romantic horrors. That’s especially true for Tinder, most notorious of dating apps thanks to its hookup culture and loose politesse, where even a cursory foray unearths ghosters, emotional vampires, catfishers, and—perhaps most disconcertingly—your parents’ recently divorced friends.
Brooklyn-based comedian Lane Moore, author of the bestselling book How to Be Alone and the former sex & relationships editor at Cosmopolitan, found online dating so absurd, she turned it into a show. Tinder Live! is a hilarious deep dive into the perils of meeting strangers online, guided by Moore’s off-the-cuff comedic repartee. She projects her Tinder profile onscreen, and the audience votes for or against the proverbial swipe right. Moore messages with her new matches, embodying wacky characters she improvises on the spot, with the audience playing along. The show isn’t meant to be mean-spirited: Moore explains she’s swiping for the “naked guy with the dead deer,” rather than punching down for comedic effect (she identifies as queer, but only swipes for men on the show: “Women on online dating apps are just existing!”).
On Saturday, February 19th, Lane Moore brings Tinder Live! to Venkman’s here in Atlanta. We caught up with her ahead of the show to dish about love, laughs, and Tinder dudes.
I think the concept of Tinder Live! is instantly relatable because pretty much everyone knows that Tinder is bonkers. How did this show come about for you?
I had the idea for the concept when I first joined Tinder. Both of my roommates were on there—this was when Tinder was really picking up—and I was like, Alright, I’ll check this out. And the first few men’s profiles that I saw were so insane, and I thought, This would be such a great comedy show, to be able to just riff on these profiles in real time.
I imagined that it would also have a really cathartic effect for anybody who had ever used a dating app, because when you’re using them, you feel like, Am I the only one who’s getting the weird profiles and the weird messages? So I thought not only would it be really ripe for a comedy show to make jokes in real time about these profiles, but also would make people feel so much less alone in their experiences with dating.
Your book How to Be Alone touches on some of the deepest hurt in your life, while also managing to be extremely funny. How has comedy helped you navigate the hard things?
That’s always been how I coped. I remember talking to a therapist one day and her saying, You know, that’s the highest form of intelligence, being able to be in a really traumatic situation and finding humor in it. I was like, Oh, that’s nice, I thought I was just trying not to drown, but apparently I’m a genius!
I very rarely felt seen in the world. Writing How to Be Alone was about saying: we don’t really talk about what it’s like if you don’t have the best family or the best friends, or this perfect partner; that doesn’t come readily for every single person. But we always talk about it like it does.
A lot of what I have done in my career has been saying, Well, I kind of feel this way. Maybe I’m the only one, but I’m going to write about it; I’m going to make a comedy show about it. And maybe I’m not the only one, it’s just that none of us are talking about it.
You’ve been very public about navigating the world largely alone, but you’ve also made a career from writing and talking about relationships, from this show, to your book, and your work at Cosmopolitan . . . even your band is called It Was Romance. Why do you think that is?
I think it absolutely makes sense for me. I was a hopeless romantic little kid, I just loved love: I would ask my neighbors, How did you meet each other? How did you know you were one? I really believed in love, but unfortunately, I didn’t have the best childhood and really wasn’t able to find that sense of connection and belonging as a kid.
So much of my work has explored this. I didn’t really feel at home in the world, and I didn’t know why. And really all I could do was tell my story, in music or comedy or writing, and be able to say, this is what my experience has been as this super hopeless romantic person—even though I haven’t been very lucky with relationships, which I think is something that we don’t talk about as much!
Is there a regional element to the Tinder profiles when you tour? Are men different in different cities?
Yeah! It’s one of my favorite parts of touring, you get a mini version of what it’s like to date in each city. When I come to Atlanta, I’ll narrow it down specifically to Atlanta profiles, which is great because it allows (the audience) to be like, Oh my God, wait, I know that guy!
Or if you don’t know him, you get little regional specifics that mean something to the people of that city. So, if he says he likes this thing, or he goes to this bar, a lot of people are like, Oh my God no, we don’t f*ck with that! It ends up being this really cool hometown pride thing, because everyone in the audience has these shared references. It’s a really special added element.
Are there any Atlanta specifics you remember from past tours?
I did a show in Atlanta a few years ago. And I remember, I first started swiping through men here, and I’m saying, All these guys sound great! Is Atlanta just a great place where everyone is great?
And then I swiped on another profile, and it was some guy giving the middle finger, and his whole profile was yelling, and I was like, Nope, it’s bad everywhere. Phew—I was worried!