Remember watching Mystery Science Theater with your friends in college? Well, I recently went to the dating version of that. It’s called Tinder Live! and it’s a comedy show about the darker side of online dating. Okay, fine, the darkest side of online dating.
The brainchild of comedian and Cosmopolitan sex & relationships editor Lane Moore, the show is built around the idea that online dating is a lot more bearable when you can do it with your friends. “I actually came up with the idea for the live show the first time I ever went on Tinder,” Moore says. “I thought it would make a great show that would be really interactive and bring people together because going through Tinder with my roommates was so much better than sifting through that garbage can alone at 2 a.m.”
Packed into The Knitting Factory in Williamsburg, the crowd seems at ease and excited—they know what to expect. And then the show starts: “You guys know Tinder, right? It’s basically where sadness goes to fuck.” For the next 90 minutes, Moore and her panel of guests scroll through the profiles of dozens of men and women. They comment, and we weigh in. The crowd is a little hesitant at first—when Moore asks which way to swipe, I hear mumbles of “right” or “left” from those around me. We don’t trust our judgment yet, or maybe we’re afraid of being judged. The shyness is short-lived though and pretty soon everyone is laughing and yelling.
“WHICH ONE IS IT?” We shout in unison as two 20-something women show up on screen. We’re trying to figure out who the profile belongs to, but it proves to be much harder than expected. The same two women are there in picture after picture as we yell out our guesses. The fifth picture confirms it—it’s the brunette. This is one of show’s most interactive features, and it happens more often than you’d think. I’m surprised to hear my own voice loud and clear as the profile of a medical resident comes up: “Left, definitely left!” He seems very sure of himself but, as Moore points out, the picture of him with a patient falls flat. “She totally hates him,” she says. The crowd agrees, and we move on.
Putting people on blast in this way may seem mean, but it actually redeems some of the harsher realities of online dating. Using humor to comment on the superficial nature of Tinder highlights the less-than-pleasant side of romance that many of us have experienced, and helps us deal with dating disappointments in a lighthearted way.
Moore also acknowledges that like any other social platform, Tinder has a deeper potential: “I know it’s seen as a hook-up app technically, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get really lucky and genuinely like someone and want to date them,” she says. “I’ve dated people I met on Tinder. We went to dinner and movies and did normal human dating things.” Normal dating is exactly what the show reflects, and its ability to do this in a funny, sensitive way offers a new perspective on millennial romance.
Lest you think this sensitivity takes away from Moore’s incisive humor, let me put your mind at ease. As the show comes to an end, we get to one last profile. “What even is Tinder?” a cocky guy writes in his bio. “You know what it is,” she fires back. “You got herpes from it.”
Tinder Live! is on at The Knitting Factory on September 29.
Photo by Mindy Tucker