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For most, swiping on Tinder is a ritual practiced alone, often during late hours when the pangs of loneliness have set in. For Lane Moore, who uses the app 20 hours per week and hosts a comedy show called Tinder Live, swiping is nearly a full-time job. Moore, who uses “they/them” pronouns, has learned more about Tinder culture than most will in a lifetime.
Moore is a comedian, actor, musician, author of How to Be Alone, and former contributor to the Daily Dot. For the past five years, they’ve also been conducting Tinder Live. The premise is just what it sounds like: Moore swipes left or right, messages potential suitors, and tries to decode Tinder bios that range from bizarre to painfully boring—all in front of a live audience.
“Every show is totally improvised, so I go on that stage having no clue who’s gonna come up, what jokes I’ll have, what material I’ll have,” Moore, who once called themselves the “mayor of Tinder,” told the Daily Dot via email. “It’s a total free-fall.”
Using an iPad, Moore projects their Tinder app on a screen, asking for audience input on which way to swipe and what to say to the dudes who inevitably populate Moore’s inbox. They often invite special guests, like cast members from Orange Is the New Black, and as Moore has gotten better at improving, they say the show’s just gotten funnier.
“I’ve done the show with the flu, I’ve done it injured, I’ve done it when I was super depressed, right after breakups, you name it, and it’s always great,” Moore says. “I still get nervous, but just developing that trust in myself and my skills as a comedian has been really exciting.”
Unsurprisingly, Moore is now a fountain of advice for how not to use Tinder: They say men shouldn’t yell at women in their profiles and definitely shouldn’t include ambiguous photos with babies. And Moore has turned one of their biggest gripes with Tinder profiles into one of the funniest segments of Tinder Live. If a user has group photos, audience members guess “which one is it?” and shout out guesses for which person you’re supposed to be swiping on.
“I could easily write a book about what not to do on dating apps at this point,” Moore says. “But I really maintain the idea that most people on dating apps are good people who just have no idea how badly some of the things they do on their profiles appear to other people.”
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Moore said at first, Tinder was “known as the hookup app.” But as people’s acceptance of using an app to find partners has expanded, so too has the ambiguity surrounding online dating culture.
“Now a ton of my friends have gotten married from Tinder, which is almost harder because it’s tough to sort out what people you’re meeting on there want,” Moore says.
And of course these days, Tinder is far from the only dating app option. There’s also Bumble, Hinge, and the latest evolutions of online dating pioneers like Match.com and eHarmony. There are more curated apps like EliteSingles, religious-specific apps like Christian Mingle and JDate, and queer-specific apps like HER and Grindr. People are even finding love on an Instagram account stylized after old-school personals ads, or simply sliding into someone’s DMs.
But with 57 million users around the world and billions of swipes every day, Tinder is among the most recognizable and most widely used dating apps. The accessible format of the app—and built-in hilarity—has made Lane’s show a huge success, with accolades from the New York Times, Ellen DeGeneres (who accidentally stole Moore’s idea), and countless other critics.
And there are always new surprises. Recently, Moore stumbled across the profile of a college student in attendance at the show, and he agreed to let Moore look at it.
“I read his bio, line by line to the audience, and it was a rap he’d written, and at the very end, it said, ‘I’m just here for Tinder Live,’ and me and the like 3,000 people there LOST IT,” Moore says. “He’d seen the show when it came to the university the year prior and loved it, so when I came back he’d made a special profile just hoping he’d be on Tinder Live, and he was. Oh man, it was just the most incredible feeling, the whole room was just stunned and so elated.”
Tinder Live isn’t Moore’s only project. They’re also in a band—It Was Romance, which is playing at SXSW next week—and working on a second book. But Tinder Live is still their baby, and if the next five years go as Moore hopes, the show could reach even bigger audiences.
“I absolutely hope Tinder Live becomes a TV show,” Moore says. “I really created it as a modern take on old dating game shows, with lots of segments and the panel and things like that.”
Moore’s five-year anniversary show with comedian and actress Janeane Garofalo will take place on Friday, March 8, at Brooklyn’s Littlefield venue. Moore has New York shows every month and tours the country regularly, so swipe along with Moore when you can.
Kris Seavers is the IRL editor for the Daily Dot. Her work has appeared in Central Texas publications, including Austin Monthly and San Antonio Magazine, and on NPR.