Lane Moore has a much rehashed meet-cute story about one of the most successful long-term relationships of her life. It’s the story of how she came to do a comedy show about Tinder.
About a year after the decade-defining dating app launched, Moore’s roommates at the time had each joined up, seemingly without consulting the other. Curious about the app’s Next Big Thing status, Moore downloaded it herself, and it only took a few swipes before she became exasperated. The thirst! The pretentiousness! The horror of it all! She started joking with her roommates about these strangers invading her phone, and how they made her feel, and immediately realized she could do the same thing for a larger audience with a microphone and a projection screen. Cut to five years later and Tinder Live—a stand-up show where Moore interacts with matches on the spot, with a panel of fellow comics—has become a sturdy touring vehicle that sells out shows all over America.
But it’s far from the only time Lane Moore has channeled romantic disappointment into a creative project.
As a writer for The Onion years ago, she would submit satirical stories and headlines based on her actual dating life. There’s also a lot of doomed romance in the songs she writes with her band, which is called, naturally, It Was Romance. And she mined her own experience as the GLAAD award-winning editor of Cosmopolitan‘s Sex & Relationships section, and as author of her recent memoir, How To Be Alone: If You Want to, and Even if You Don’t.
Every facet of Moore’s career so far seems like an appropriate plot point in the trajectory of a woman who, as a precocious and starry-eyed child, would go door-to-door to neighbors’ houses to ask how the mommies and daddies had met each other. She grew up obsessed with love stories, swooning over the romance in Anne of Green Gables before graduating to more adult fare later on, like the pristine relationship between Jim and Pam on The Office.
As a young, single woman in New York, though, she couldn’t help but notice that the reality of dating did not make a Tinder match with the expectations set up by TV, books, and movies.
“I was really sold that this is how my dating life would be, and instead it’s . . . it’s real bad,” Moore says during a recent interview with Fast Company. “You almost feel gaslit by pop culture. I thought we would go on these crazy elaborate dates and then it’s like, ‘No? You just want to finger me on your roof?’ It’s a real bait-and-switch.”
Fortunately, Moore’s disappointment with the truth about dating has led her to fill her own songs, jokes, and writing with bracing authenticity. By serving up a warts-and-all depiction of what it’s actually like out here in these streets, she’s doing her part to set the record straight. Read on below for her master class on how (and why) to turn matters of the heart into art.
Making Art Helps You Process the Pain
“One of my favorite things about music is the clarity I can have when I’m writing a song,” Moore says. “A lot of what I do is based on improvisation. Tinder Live is just whatever is off the top of my head based on whatever the guy’s profile says–and with music it starts the same way. If I feel like shit about something, I’ll pick up an instrument and words are coming out of my mouth and then I’ll eventually hit record. It’s that stream-of-consciousness thing where I’ll have written a song and I’ll take a step back and realize, Whoa, that’s exactly how I feel! It’s like having a therapy session with yourself. I feel things very intensely and often the intensity is all you feel, so if you put it into writing at least you have something to do with that pain.”
Don’t Look for the Lemons, the Lemons Will Find You
“I don’t like this general thing with comedians where people think you’re always looking for material,” Moore says. “Something might end up becoming material, but I’m just trying to meet someone. I mean, yeah, I’m making comedy and music because I’m not finding what I’m looking for, but I don’t get excited when I’m in pain. When I have a shitty date, I’m not like, Thank god, I have something to tweet about tomorrow! I just want to be happy. The material is like the lemonade you make out of the lemons, but I don’t want the lemons. How about oranges? I’m so excited for oranges. I’ve had a tough life, I don’t need more material.”
Making Art Helps You Preserve Your True Feelings
“It’s very powerful when you feel like you can’t articulate something but then you write it and years later you come back to it and remember exactly how you were in that moment,” Moore says. “It’s a way of not only figuring out how you feel, but making sure you can’t look back on it with rose-colored glasses years later and pretend you felt differently–because you preserved how you actually felt about the relationship.”
Making Art Helps You Find Yourself Again
“There’s a relationship I talk about in How To Be Alone where, right when it ended, I had to go onstage to perform with my band in front of, like, a thousand people,” Moore says. “I was like, How am I going to do this? I have just been eviscerated in every sense of the word, I found out this person was cheating and it feels awful. It was so many emotions and I had to go and sing that night and I had to sing a song about love. But ever since I was a little kid, that’s how I dealt with pain. I’m going to use this for what I’m making or what I’m doing. It was also about remembering who I am. I was crying backstage before we went on, but then I put on my show costume and went out there and there were a lot of people excited to see me, and I felt like a badass performer and I remembered that I’m getting to do what I wanted to do as a kid. I’m not just someone who has been hurt. You’re more than just your pain. I was like, Dude, nuh-uh, you’re playing a big show tonight. This is great. And then I felt more like myself.”
Your Pain is a Boomerang
“I really think that my best friend for my entire life has been my creativity,” Moore says. “When I had no one, I was still singing, I was still writing on receipt paper when I worked at some crappy job. It’s been the only solace in my life when I’ve had no control over it and I’ve thought, Well, how can I express this in a way that will be cathartic for other people who have gone through what I’m going through? It’s amazing to be able to find exactly the right words to say how you feel, because wanting to feel understood and seen and heard—it can create a sense of community. You think maybe nobody else feels like this, but then you put it out there and it’s like a boomerang of people saying, ‘Yeah, me too, me too.’ I always joke that I’m making better relationships for other people because some guy will tell me he put one of my songs on a mixtape for his girlfriend, or this woman will say she read one of my articles and now she’s getting married. But if things don’t work out for me romantically, that’s okay. I have a dog, I’m fine.”