Somewhere on the long list of activities previously taken for granted that were heavily impacted by the pandemic, you’ll find both Tinder and live comedy. That didn’t bode well for Lane Moore; the writer, comedian and musician is also the host of the long-running comedy show Tinder Live, which requires both a live audience and people willing to chat with a total stranger in hopes of going on a date. Since 2013 Moore has swiped her way through Tinder in front of live audiences throughout the country, creating an interactive improv show that turns the impersonal nature of today’s dating scene into a communal experience. Based in New York, Moore has often taken Tinder Live on the road, and after repeated delays her latest tour kicked off last night in Chicago. She’ll be bringing the show to 20 cities over the next several weeks, sharing her first-person look at the Tinder scene in each town, all while trying to stay as safe as possible during a pandemic. Paste recently talked to Moore about her show and what Covid has meant for live comedy and online dating; you can read the full conversation below, lightly edited for clarity. And beneath that you’ll find all the dates for Moore’s current Tinder Live tour, which runs through the middle of October.
Paste: What sort of precautions are you taking for these shows, and that the clubs are taking, to make sure these shows are done as safely as possible?
Lane Moore: I know that some of these are like, “we spent a million dollars on a new filtration air system,” and I’m like, cool. But most of the venues, not all of them, are like, “okay, masks and vaccinated,” and all of the things. Because the cities are the ones who can say that. If the city’s like “you can’t say that!” then, you know.
Paste: So you are asking for proof of vaccination, or the clubs are, where they’re allowed to?
LM: Everywhere I’ve seen. Everywhere I’ve done so far has been proof of vaccination, and masks are encouraged, and I always wear a mask after the shows when I’m meeting people, and stuff. You’re just trying to do as many right things as you can.
Paste: Have you had many cancellations so far? How has this variant surge impacted your tour dates?
LM: Oh, yeah, It’s been really hard. When we started there were a couple, like, “ulp, that city’s getting really hard.” I was supposed to be in New Orleans, and right before I got to New Orleans it got real bad there, and I was like, well, you just have to roll with it. What can you do? I think performers and venues are in a very similar position where it’s like we want to do our jobs, we want art to come back, but we want everybody to be okay.
Paste: Yeah. I mean, as a fan, it’s been a year and a half since I’ve been to a concert. I can’t wait for stuff to get back to normal, you know?
LM: Exactly. And I know performers and venues feel the exact same way. We’re just trying to navigate this really weird thing that’s hit the arts particularly hard.
Paste: It’s sad seeing the number of venues that have had to permanently shut down.
LM: That’s the other thing! I was supposed to do this tour in 2020, and the wildest thing was watching venues entirely shutter. At no other time in history would touring be like this for an artist.
Paste: So what’s a Tinder Live show like during the pandemic? How has this impacted how people act or portray themselves on Tinder?
LM: One of the funniest things that I’ve seen that’s different is the weird little jokes that people make on there, that men, particularly, will make on their Tinder profiles. I’ll see a lot of men writing, like, “waxed and vaxxed,” and, like, why? Why? I don’t know that we need to make a sexy joke out of being vaccinated. But you’ll see a lot of that, or people just writing like “shots shots shots shots.” Okay, I get it. Just a lot of cheesy vaccination jokes.
I think the biggest thing I’ve noticed that’s been the change in—not necessarily in the way people talk to each other, because that’s… the men I talk to on Tinder Live have always been the weirdest ones, so our conversations have always been crazy, and that hasn’t changed. But I’ve noticed a difference in the energy of the audience. It’s always such an interactive show and people get so excited when I match with somebody, people get so passionate about how they feel about the person on the screen, like there was a guy at a show in New York the other night where he was a really really hot dude, but once we got to a photo of him holding a fish, the audience was like “NOOOOO! THIS SUCKS!” It’s just people sick of seeing photos of men holding fish. But I’ve noticed since having that break of not being able to perform, now the audiences are even more invested or more vocal, after two years of not being able to go to a live show, especially a show that’s this interactive. Every show is only happening that one night, because it’s totally improvised, so there’s an extra volume that I’ve noticed with the audience.
Paste: Talking about seeing the “waxed and vaxxed” and the “shots shots shots shots,” have you found many accounts that are proudly anti-vaccine?
LM: Oh my God, so many! There was one that came up on the Tinder Live show in New York City the other night. No—he came up in Washington, DC. And I was able to mess with him in a really fun way. Because, you know, you have an audience full of people who had to show their vaccination card to get in, so you know that everybody’s on the same page on that, which is cool. So when somebody talks about how they’re proudly unvaccinated, like “screw you sheep!”, then, alright, we’re going there. Because it’s affecting everything. It’s definitely tough to see people who are proudly just, like, I don’t care. I don’t care at all what happens to anybody.
Paste: You’ll probably wind up seeing more of that when you get down here in the south, or head out west.
LM: I think that’s it, too. Most shows haven’t seen that yet. Yet.
Paste: So how does the touring show differ from when you’re doing it in New York?
LM: The cool thing about the touring show is we’re swiping locally, so if I’m doing it in New York City, we’re swiping through New York and the surrounding area. But in the tour cities, we’re swiping through that actual tour city. So if I’m in Atlanta, I’m swiping through Atlanta. And what’s really cool about that is the audience, particularly if they’re on Tinder themselves, they know their city’s Tinder trope. They know that everyone takes a photo in front of this mural. They know all the cliches. So there’s a real kind of hometown pride thing happening, where people recognize this stuff. You’re getting to see what these people in each city are like. What’s cool about that is people can see, like, “oh my God, that’s my friend! That’s my coworker!” There was one where I was in Kansas City and someone was like, “oh, I’m friends with that guy’s boss, I know the bar he works at.” So we were able to have fun with that, and then you get to talk to these people in that way. Like when I tour with colleges, I swipe through the people from their college, so it’s people they’ll probably know. And the same thing when you’re swiping through these cities. And you’ll see things, like, someone will say something about the sports team they’re a huge fan of, and everybody’s like “screw them! They suck!” Or like, I went to this school, and in cities where there’s a rivalry between schools, they’ll be, like, “no way, that school sucks!” You get this little slice of these specific cities that’s really cool, for the audience and me.
Paste: So what kind of regional differences or trends have you noticed in terms of how people behave on Tinder or write their profiles?
LM: When I’m in, like,the Denver area, the profiles are so active. Every profile is, like, “I live in the woods, with a kayak, and an axe,” and it’s just the most… They’re all REI ads. It’s just really funny. And Portland is kind of a take on that, plus some kind of social activism angle. It’s fun to see stuff like that. And how pervasive the fish photo is, especially in cities where you wouldn’t expect it. Seeing the fish photo in New York, you’re like, really? We’re not really near any fishable lakes. Where are you getting them here?
Paste: People love to show off their fish.
LM: Men really love it. I don’t know if it’s, like, “I can provide for you, look, I caught this!” I don’t know. It’s really archaic and strange. “I can catch food if we need to.” We have stores now! We don’t need this.
Paste: It’s a sign of their manliness. “Look at me, I’m a real man, I can catch a fish.”
LM: “If the world ends, I know how to catch a fish from a body of water.”
Paste: So what have you learned about online dating during a pandemic?
LM: It’s interesting because at the top of the pandemic I remember feeling really optimistic, and that it was going to make dating so much easier, potentially, because people will realize that love and intimacy and connections are really important. They’ll realize how important they are, and start taking things more seriously, and really try to get to know people. And then the stuff I saw was, like, “come over, I’m not vaccinated, who cares, let’s chat.” It was just like… you kind of realize, I think what it is, is people are who they are no matter what. I think it’s rare that somebody who didn’t really care about actually getting to know somebody, about actually having a relationship with somebody, started to care about that because of the pandemic. They didn’t suddenly have an Ebenezer Scrooge moment like, “oh, wait, love is important!” They were just like, “come over, if we die we die, I really don’t care, I just want to hook up.” The people who always wanted that wanted it even more.
Tinder Live Tour Dates for 2021:
03 — Minneapolis, MN @ Amsterdam
04 — Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall
06 — Madison, WI @ Bur Oak
07 — Seattle, WA @ Vera Project
08 — Portland, OR @ Polaris
09 — San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw
11 — Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo (with special guest Grace Helbig)
12 — San Diego, CA @ Music Box
14 — Nashville, TN @ Zanies
15 — Dallas, TX @ Three Links
16 — Austin, TX @ Mohawk
20 — Asheville, NC @ The Grey Eagle
21 — Greensboro, NC @ Comedy Zone
22 — Charlotte, NC @ Comedy Zone
23 — Greenville, SC @ Comedy Zone
24 — Atlanta, GA @ 529
01 — Brooklyn, NY @ Littlefield (with special guest David Cross)
13 — Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar
14 — Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
16 — Providence, RI @ Columbus Theatre
30 — Brooklyn, NY @ Littlefield (Halloween spectacular)
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s also on Twitter @grmartin.