At the Intersection of Love and Loneliness with Lane Moore

lane-mooreAsk Lane Moore questions and she’ll tell you no lies. Well, almost none. A multihyphenate talent who prefers to quote her age as “somewhere between a 13-year-old boy and 90-year-old southwestern lesbian raising dogs,” Moore has blazed trails in comedy, journalism, and punk rock using honesty as her flamethrower. Moore is perhaps best down for her three-year-strong monthly show Tinder Live, in which she live-swipes on prospective suitors with the help of special guests’ advice and the audience’s whooping approval/scorn. But you might also catch her byline on editorial content in Cosmo or The New Yorker, or flexing her pipes as the frontwoman of her very own punk band, It Was Romance.

In all of these endeavors, Moore’s sincerity shines. But if other artists’ honesty is “raw” or “brutal,” hers is genuinely endearing — even when it’s about something dark. Moore recently landed a book deal with Simon & Schuster to write a collection of essays about loneliness.

I sat down with Moore to talk about living lonely, declaring queerness at the door, and whether Tinder is really “over.”

So when did comedy first “dawn” on you as a thing to do with your life?

I always talk about my being a comedian the way people talk about being gay. Like, looking back, I guess I was always a comedian. At Sunday school, I would do ten minutes at the top of the class to tell my funny story. I didn’t think about it as comedy at the time. It just… made me happy. But I’ve basically been doing sets since I was six years old.

Were you super into comedy as a kid?

I was obsessed with comedy. I’d watch every single Comedy Central Presents, and stay awake until four in the morning every single night. Comedy Central had this thing where you would watch the 12:30 Conan, and then after that there was a block of Strangers with Candy, and then the after that there was a block of Upright Citizens Brigade. And then after that there were infomercials, which I also thought were hilarious. I also used to record episodes of Daria so I could bring them with me to school and just listen to them with headphones on. And I had a really, really, really fucked up childhood, so I didn’t really have anybody. So comedy and music and TV were a point of connection for me. Like, I probably felt more connected to Amy Sedaris than anybody at the time.

Amy Sedaris is so great.

She’s everything to me. I just want her on my show so I can cry on her.

How would you describe your standup sets now?

It’s very dark, but it’s very light. I talk about depression, but in a fun way. I have a joke about blowing my nose with a piece of toilet paper on the toilet, and then wanting to wipe with that same piece of toilet paper, and then being like, “No. Treat yourself.” And I have jokes about dating more than one gender, which I feel like I don’t see a lot of people doing. And I like to normalize that stuff. Because depression, sexuality, none of it is a big deal. Like yeah, I struggle with mental illness, but everybody does. Come on.

And you do so much more than standup. You do Tinder Live, you sing in a punk band, you edited Cosmo. Did you always aspire to do all of those things?

You know how, every year, you’d write down what you wanted to be when you grew up? Every single year, my notebook would say “Actress-Writer-Singer,” “Actress-Writer-Singer.” I didn’t write down “Comedian,” because I don’t think you know what a comedian is as a child. I just knew I wanted to be like Lucille Ball and Diana Ross. Or that’s how I quantified it, because I was a little kid in the ‘90s and totally normal. But I was constantly writing stories and songs and immersing myself in music and comedy as much as I could, and I remember throughout my childhood thinking, “Yeah, but which one do you want to do?” And then being like, “I’m gonna do them all.” And then being like, “You have to pick one, you can’t do them all.” And eventually being like, “But what if I’m one of the few people who can?”

I’m always impressed by artists who are able to hold down ten different kinds of projects at once. Do you ever feel threatened by that industry model of having just one thing you can be good at or known for?

It gives me hope to see people like Jo Firestone coming up. I don’t know that people knew what to do with her for a long time. And I feel like people are figuring it out with me now, which is nice. I’ve been doing all these different things my whole life, it’s just that comedy took off first. So yeah, sometimes people are like “She does so much, where do we put her?” And I’m like, “Literally anywhere.” That’s the point.

Tell me about Tinder Live, though, since it’s your comedy opus. How did that idea start?

I felt so alone and weird and vulnerable online dating, so I wanted to create this crazy, funny comedy show that could also make everybody in the room feel like they weren’t doing it alone. I knew everyone was struggling with the same weird stuff. Also, I’m totally fearless up there, I don’t care. And I know that that’s really important to people.

That said, you do approach the whole show really gently and sweetly.  

I like to be clear, especially if people haven’t seen the show, that it’s not mean or troll-y. I don’t go after guys’ appearances. I’d never be like, “Oh, he’s so ugly.” For one thing, that’s boring. A lot of the time, I’m just making jokes about myself. A lot of the dudes I talk to on Tinder Live are laughing with me.

I’ve got to admit, I’m surprised that you’ve been doing the show for three and a half years and interest hasn’t died down. I feel as if I hear fewer and fewer stories about people using Tinder, and there are all those thinkpieces calling it “dead.”

People say they don’t use Tinder anymore, but I’ve never had a shortage of people on there who are around and ready to talk immediately. Never, in any city I’ve gone to. So I don’t think that’s true.

Has the show changed at all since you started it, though?

If anything, I think it’s dissolved a little of the cynicism that maybe I had earlier after dating in the city and going in earnestly. When I first got on Tinder, I wanted to meet somebody who was great and wonderful. Now, I want to find the best in people. There are guys who come up on the show and their profiles are just weird, and then we start talking and they’re actually really nice. They might not be my soulmate, but I’m always really excited at the possibility.

And you identify as queer, right?

For lack of a better word, I’ll use the word queer, but I don’t identify as anything. If I’m into somebody, I always say, whatever gender they are, I’ll figure it out. As in, I’ll work with it. And a lot of the men and women I date look the same. They all just look like little nerds.

I remember you kind of “coming out” as queer in a Facebook status, and I felt like it shifted your career onto this new plane.

I’d never really felt the need to quantify my sexuality. But in our generation, more people are identifying as queer, and there aren’t that many people in comedy representing that. Whereas we see a lot of gay or lesbian comics, there aren’t a ton of visible queer comics. And my jokes could be delivered by anybody. There’s nothing wrong with jokes that are super super about your gender, but again, I don’t feel defined by that stuff. A straight dude could tell my jokes about women.

Does that queerness manifest with [your punk band] It Was Romance in a similar way, where you feel like just making music as a queer person increases the scope of interpretation of what your songs could be “about?”

Yeah. With my band’s first album, I realized one day in looking at which songs were about men and which were about women, you wouldn’t be able to know. If I quizzed somebody, they wouldn’t be able to know. Even some of the jokes I’ve written, they’re not gendered but they might be about one or the other. And I like that, because I don’t think it makes a difference. I really don’t.

It’s kind of like through your standup, politics, and your music, you’re looking for equalizers — ways to put people on the same plane.

Yeah, that’s the whole thing. Sometimes I’ll even say that at the top of Tinder Live: “We’re all bad at this. We’re all trying to connect, and it’s not really working.”

Did you have a similar agenda as the Sex and Relationships Editor at Cosmo — a desire to create that form of connection through the articles you were writing?

I definitely came in there with an agenda, and they knew that. Looking back one day, I realized the first two things I’d written for Cosmo were “8 Fun Things to Do With Your Boobs” and “How to Talk to a Suicidal Friend.” So it was like, one for you, one for me.

Yes! I loved the “12 Things Every Twentysomething Woman Needs to Do to Get a Bikini Body…”

And if you clicked on it, it was like “You don’t need to, you’re beautiful!” I wanted to do reverse clickbait. If you’re going to Cosmo.com because that’s all you know, you should be able to get some content that tells you that you don’t have to shave your legs, that you can eat like a monster and your cellulite is still cute, or, “Hey, you’re into a girl? That’s okay.” I just wanted to make an “NBD” section.

I’ve always found your comedy and writing particularly therapeutic in that way.

I love when people tell me that they feel less alone in the world because of the things I’m making. You never know what’s affecting people and what people are picking up. You know, I’ve always felt so alone in the world and still do, most of the time, and there are still days I have where I feel like I can’t even get through the day. But thank God I can watch all of Freaks and Geeks, and I’ll wanna die a little less. I know it doesn’t have to be that dire, but like, sometimes it fucking is.

 

Photo by Amy Lombard.

Sam Corbin is a Canadian writer and performer based in Brooklyn. Please direct all marriage offers to @ahoysamantha.

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