By Jimmy Carlton Sportswriter Published Jun 05, 2017 at 4:02 PM

Let’s face it: Tinder can be kind of terrible.

From the arrogant and obnoxious ("If you can’t handle my awesomeness, then just swipe left") to the basic and benign ("Likes: pizza, my friends, going to the gym"), the fake spam-bots ("Go to and hav ur dreams come tru") to the outright insane ("9/11 was a NASA conspiracy; I’m into knife play, will you be my beautiful victim?"), it's often tough to wade through the muck of miserable profiles – not to mention, survive strangers’ reflexive, physical appearance-based judgment and then labor through insipid, indifferent messaging until they stop responding and your swipe thumb develops early-onset arthritis. Fun!

Enter Lane Moore, a writer and comedian in New York who saw in the morass of modern online dating an opportunity for lighthearted entertainment. Moore decided four years ago to take the cynical, soul-sucking and superficial aspects of Tinder and filter out the weird, confusing and ridiculous parts, turning what can be a disappointingly isolating experience into a hilariously uplifting, all-in-this-together interactive comedy show.

The critically acclaimed "Tinder Live with Lane Moore" examines and soothingly lampoons the strange world of mobile-app dating, with Moore signed onto her account on stage, going through area profiles (Tinder is location-based), offering funny observations and reactions, swiping left (no) or right (yes) – usually with enthusiastic audience input – and messaging maniacally with her matches. Fun!

Moore brings her show to Milwaukee this week, as "Tinder Live" will be at Turner Hall Ballroom at 8 p.m. We caught up with Moore in advance to talk about the concept, her best matches, the show experience, why it isn’t as exploitative as you might think and how we all kind of suck at dating anyway. During our phone interview, Moore said she’d just woken up and was going to be getting dressed while we talked, because we were recording a video (above) afterward. She assured that she wasn’t the type of person who needed an hour to get ready, though.

OnMilwaukee: So, what I’m gathering is that you seem to be really high maintenance.

Lane Moore: Yeah, exactly. That's what everybody says about me: "She's so high maintenance and just the worst."

I’m not used to dealing with New York divas and big stars, so if you could try to put on a little more of a low-key Midwestern persona, that’d be great.

It’s funny because I'm from the South, so I get people all the time like, "Oh, you're clearly not from here," and I'm like, that's just your way of saying I'm nice. When people smile at me, I smile back. And I'm just being nice, but then you get some creepy dude following you for a couple blocks (laughs).

This is such a unique show. What’s the Tinder Live origin story?

I got the idea, literally the first time I went on Tinder, almost four years ago. I was coming out of my room and my two roommates were in the kitchen and were both on Tinder at the same time. I was like, holy crap, clearly everyone is on Tinder, I’ve got to check it out. So I set up an account and immediately was like this is the most incredible thing I've ever seen.

I went and I got my camera and I videotaped us going on Tinder and just making comments and things like that. Right at that same time, I turned to them and said, I could totally make this into a comedy show – it could be live and interactive, you know, we could put my profile on a big screen while I'm swiping. I could make live commentary on these profiles, and it'll be just this huge amazing improvised comedy show. And my roommates were like, um, seriously, make that happen now.

So that night, I started working on the show and contacted theaters. It was just that immediate. The second I got on Tinder, I was like, "OK, this is my life's purpose, cool."

So it was very organic.

Very organic! It was literally just going on it and realizing, "Oh my God, there is just so much amazing material." And my brain works so fast, the second a profile showed up, I had six jokes for each one. And I was like, I need to make this into something.

The comedy is built in for you. But four years ago, Tinder was still pretty new and people were viewing it, maybe not innocently but naively. Before everyone had made their jokes and there were bots and it was something everyone knew about, you were in the vanguard.

Before, it was like, "Wow, this seems to be really catching on." And now it’s like, there are grandpas in their 80s on Tinder.

The genesis of the show is interesting because I know people who’ve had Tinder parties, where they’ll get wine and just go through profiles and make jokes, which is essentially what you’re doing but on a grander, actual stage.

That’s the other thing I hear a lot from women after the show. They’re like, "We do this at home, do this in bars, this is exactly what we do." With me it's just on a larger scale and it’s actual professional comedians.

It's also not trolly. I imagine when some people do it casually, it's a little trolly – both women and men do stuff like that. I’m very protective of the kindness of the show and making sure that it's not – like, I’m never going to knock someone’s physical appearance, I'm never going to take a guy who seems like a really great guy and make him think I’m his soulmate or something like that.

I only go after guys who are just, like, really ridiculous. And when I say go after, it’s something as simple as – like, this one time there was this guy who, in every profile photo, it looked like they were all taken in a basement and he was wearing the same shirt in all of them. So I just started messaging him and was like, "Oh my gosh, you only own one shirt? Me too!" And he was like, "No, what are you talking about? I own more than one shirt." And I'm like, "It's OK that you don't, I know that you don't. It's fine; the jig is up."

So it's just silly. There's nothing about it that's super mean. I mean, if someone’s just openly, like, sexist, racist or homophobic or whatever then, you know, those are definitely fun profiles to play with. One guy’s was like, "Don't message me if you are a feminist," so immediately I started messaging him just pretending I didn’t even know what feminism was.

Oh, yeah. That’s open season for you.

Yeah, like, "Feminism, what is that? That sounds so complicated! I hate it. What?" My character is just this dumb drunk idiot, and I’ve got to tell you, men love her.

The one-shirt guy seems like he was sad that night and just decided to go on Tinder and take all his profile pictures right then and there.

The thesis that came out on the show – because he came up on a Tinder Live show – was, like, I was saying his mom really wanted him to move out of her basement. "You’ve got to move out. You're going on Tinder, you are going to meet a nice girl. Come on! What you’re wearing is fine!" And then they’re in the basement and she’s just like, "That one’s good, that one’s good, that’s good, that's good, OK done."

You alluded to this, and it's one of the things I’m fascinated to see live. It seems like this could be exploitative if not done the right way. I know from reading reviews of the show, a lot of people said you manage to do it without being mean-spirited. How do you toe that line? Do you ever worry about embarrassing someone? What if someone’s partner comes up and then you’re a homewrecker?

(laughs) For sure. Like I said, I'm so protective of that, because the theme of the show for me is that, like, we're all bad at this. I'm not standing up there going, "Oh, I'm perfect at this and everyone here sucks at it." That's not my humor, that's not who I am as a person. So I really am coming at it from, like, "I believe that most of these people are good people, but they just don't know how their profile is coming across." You know what I mean?

So someone might have a ridiculous profile, but I'm not going to be like, "Oh, this guy is clearly a piece of crap." It's like, he might be a super nice guy who I'd be friends with or might even be attracted to. Again, unless the person just seems really hateful or just really awful, I try to treat it like they might be in the room. I always tell people in the audience, if your profile comes up, let me know, I won't make fun of you. But I feel like if someone's profile comes up, it's almost a badge of honor, this special thing, like, you won a little prize.

Yeah, I’d be excited and eager to get some tips.

My goal, and I’d say that what we succeed at it every show, is making everybody there feel like you’re at this once-in-a-lifetime thing, because the stuff that happens on the show is all improvised. So it's like nobody else will have this moment, and you just feel like you're all in it together. So, really, the point of this show is to make people feel connected, and I don't want to make anyone feel like this is somehow mean, or what if it's someone's brother that’s embarrassing.

And I will tell you, I've heard from so many people who've been like, "By the way, my coworker was one of the people who came up on the screen, and we were so excited we texted him," and he was like, "Oh my god, send me a video!" Again, the show is so good-natured and it's just so freaking funny, and I feel like coming up on the show is this awesome thing. I've heard from guys who message me on Facebook and are like, "Oh my God, I heard I was on the show, can I see? That's such an honor."

And they know we're not sitting up there really being mean or trying to eviscerate anybody. And sometimes people’s profiles come up and I’m just like, this guy seems like an amazing guy. Like, who is this amazing person? This is funny and he’s cute, and I'm like, I can't comment on anything and then it might just be something innocuous I say.

Have you ever been on stage and mentally been like, wait, I need to actually message this guy later?

Oh yeah, occasionally there have been times where I’m like, I'm saving that one. There was a show I did at Syracuse University, where it was so crazy – this guy seemed amazing, he was this lovely little nerd who was like, "I really want a relationship" and he just seemed really awesome. And I was like, "Guys, should I match him on the show?" Because I usually don't try to match with people who actually seem wonderful." Because, you know, I'm not trying to mess with anybody, and I’d always felt like nobody wants to watch me fall in love on stage.

And they're like, "Do it! Do it!" And I did, so we kept messaging and he was just, like, really wonderful, and the moments where something like that has happened, the audience is always super into it. So, again, it's not a cynical show, people are up for whatever. I think they really do want me to find love (laughs), and that's interesting. And it has happened too – not the love part, but the matching with someone who seems really nice and awesome and, you know, everyone’s just watching me on stage, like, pretty confused that this is happening, in the same way you would be if you were home alone.

I feel like matching and falling in love with someone on Tinder Live would make for the ultimate New York Times wedding announcement.

Oh my god, it's literally one of my goals. I don't care what city it happens in; it sounds silly to say one of my goals is to get married that way, but I do think it would be the ultimate meet-cute. Like, yeah, I did this comedy show Tinder Live, I did it all over the world, and then I’m on stage like, "Oh, hi my soulmate, I guess." And then hundreds of people who watched that happen are able to be like, "I watched them fall in love on that comedy show because I was there that day." I’m OK with that story.

It seems like another thing making it less negative is that Tinder is so fleeting, you’re just swiping through people without knowing them. So you’re not really lingering on people and insulting who they actually are. If they come up on the show, whether they’re excited or embarrassed, it’s so ephemeral, it comes and goes.

Yeah, exactly. And the thing to remember in terms of that is just, like, that can happen with anybody. You know what I mean? If it wasn’t on my show, people are doing that with friends, men and women are doing that at bars. Everybody knows that. And again, one of my favorite things is the guys that I've talked with on the show, the stuff I'm saying is so ridiculous, they're laughing with me and love it so much.

Because the way I look at it, at the worst, the worst thing that could possibly happen, I guess, is that you end up in a conversation with me, which honestly will probably be the best thing that will ever happen to you on an online dating app. Because I’m so ridiculous and so silly, and most online dating apps conversations are just nothing.

Mine are just a thrill ride of insanity – of, like, what is wrong with this girl? What is she doing? She just said she’s trapped in a laundromat. What is going on? So I feel like, judging by the people I end up matching with – and sometimes they'll throw jokes back, like they don't necessarily know that it's a show, but they'll throw jokes back too because they think this is hilarious. I really do it as such a positive thing for literally everyone.

You seem like the perfect example, taken to the Nth degree, of the person someone wants to find whose profile says, like, "Don’t message me and just say hey, what’s up."

Right, or when people are like, "I love girls who are a little crazy." I'm like, "Well, hello." (laughs).

That’s your opening.

Yeah, here we go, you’re welcome. And it's never going to be boring if you match with me, it’s never going to be boring. I mean that honestly.

Also, guys have a choice. I always talk to my guys friends, like, "If I sent you a message and it said, 'Hey, what's up? I'm totally naked but I'm stuck at a laundromat,’ would you write back to her?" And they're like, "probably not." And I'm like exactly, that's a good choice. Or maybe you would, and if you did then you bought a ticket, so you take the ride.

As a creative and a comedian, it seems like a very unique and exhilarating experience. What do you get out of the show as a performer, and in turn what do you think the audience gets out of it, as opposed to seeing a traditional stand-up show?

For me, it's a thrill ride. I talked to somebody about this the other day, and they're like, man, every single show, you don't know what's going to happen, you don't know what you're going to say. You don't know who's going to pop up, that must feel like jumping out of an airplane and hoping your parachute opens. And I was like, it is. The whole show is me repeatedly jumping out of an airplane and hoping the parachute opens, and it does every time.

Honestly, it's really exhilarating because it’s just like this one-person improv troupe that my brain ends up being, when a profile pops up it's like I immediately have a bunch of jokes. And then when someone messages me, I have to think of the best things to say. So it’s, like, all this real-time stuff.

My brain has always been really fast, and so being able to showcase how fast my brain works – because it's really intense up there, and that helps me come up with jokes – it's incredibly fun for me. I always liken it to Mystery Science Theater, but with Tinder. It’s much like that, just joke, joke, joke as it's happening. But as far as what the audience gets out of it, oh my God, so many things. Baseline, no matter what, whether you care about Tinder or not, it's just the funniest comedy show. It's so funny.

Women feel less alone because they’re like, "Oh my God, this is how I feel when I'm on Tinder." Guys get some tips of, like, maybe what not to do that they didn't realize was coming off wrong. So like, they leave probably feeling a lot better because they’re like, "Wow at least I’m not that dude." You get to see what women see. And then there’s couples who have been together forever who have no idea what online dating is, they love it because it's just a great comedy show. And the Tinder thing doesn't really matter; like, if you've ever been on a date, if you've ever tried to connect with anybody, you know it's awkward and really funny.

And so, I feel like it really just is a comedy show about the ways that we’re trying to connect with each other, and how it’s not going super well. Also, when I match with people, it’s like the freaking colosseum, everybody cheers. And they get to decide whether I swipe right or left, so there’s so much audience participation, they have so much say in what happens, which is so cool – like, you're choosing who I’m going to talk to.

What does that audience participation actually look like? Are they just shouting out constantly?

So, I will analyze the profile and then I'll ask them, should I swipe left or right on this? Basically, is this somebody I should talk to? And they're the ones who cast that vote; it's really awesome. Usually, it's yelling. You know, it would be very polite if they applauded, but I like that it’s very open season, just "Right! Right!" And people get so into it, because it's really happening in real time, so it's very exciting.

Milwaukee's PrideFest is happening this weekend while you’re in town. Do you have any plans to go and what does it mean to you to be an LGBTQ icon?

That's awesome; that is incredible. I would totally go. I did not know that. I mean, I think it’s really exciting to have somebody doing something like this who dates men and women. I think that gives me somehow more of a perspective on dating. Like, I've seen it from both sides. I've seen women’s profiles on Tinder, so I know the weird stuff we do. Which is another thing I go into on this show – like, here’s some weird stuff women are doing, because women and men, neither of us are perfect.

So I really do have, I guess, both perspectives, and I know that men and women, we're both bad at connecting with people. So I'd say there's something kind of nice about that because I'm not coming from a perspective that's just like, "Ugh, men!" I'm like, "Ugh, men and women and all of us!"

"Tinder Live with Lane Moore" tickets are available here.

Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.

After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.

Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.