1-man show ‘F*ck Tinder’ dives into messy reality of online dating

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Never let it be said that online dating is easier than dating in real life. Between all the risky messages from imperfect strangers, the strained conversations and constant rejections, there is so much potential for disaster that one feels like giving up on love.

But if you’re David Rodwin, you keep trying — and you learn to laugh at yourself along the way. After two years of experiencing bad dates, Rodwin decided to turn his experiences with online dating into a one-man show, which he performed most recently at San Francisco’s PianoFight from Feb. 22-23 and will be performing again March 1-2. Its name? As straightforward as you can get: “F*ck Tinder: a love story.”

While the title may be neatly censored, the show itself is anything but. In the short span of about 80 minutes, Rodwin openly discusses his sexual relationships with a variety of different women, focusing on the more odd or adventurous experiences. Any play that reaches its climax (no pun intended) during a scene about a sex party is bound to get graphic at times.

Yet at the same time, Rodwin wisely knows which lines not to cross. For many women, the idea of listening to a man make jokes about his love life sounds less like a fun night out and more like their worst nightmare — and understandably so, considering the penchant for male comedians to confuse humor with thinly veiled misogyny.

Thankfully, however, Rodwin made no such comedic blunders and, instead, seemed to be actively compensating for the fact that he could only present his story from a male perspective. He referred to God with she/her pronouns in a few comedic bits, and he casually incorporated a message of women’s empowerment into his stories. These brief but welcome moments never detracted from the humor, as some might suspect; rather, they heightened it to a new level.

One of the highlights of the night was the story of a particularly harsh date with a woman who insisted she would print out a list of generic first-date questions that she would refuse to answer and threatened to show that list to anyone who dared to ask her. The star of the story, however, was the Uber driver who drove Rodwin home afterward and soon began telling him what to text her. Unfortunately for Rodwin, but quite fortunately for his show, the story of his impromptu “Cyrano de Bergerac” is only one of several bad dates that had the audience in stitches.

But where the stories themselves were entertaining and full of twists, Rodwin’s delivery of them sometimes faltered. Throughout the show, many of his jokes followed the same pattern: a fast-paced and high-energy monologue, a quick pause and then a deadpanned punchline. It’s a fairly typical form and can be quite effective, but after a certain point, it becomes rather predictable — an unfortunate consequence too, considering how wonderfully unpredictable his online dating life was.

Moreover, Rodwin’s comedic structure meant that he rushed through a good deal of his script, tripping over some phrases in his eagerness to get to the punchline. It would be perhaps more rewarding to watch Rodwin take some of the lines slower and let the audience actually process what’s being said because more often than not, it’s something oddly intriguing.

Overall, what tied the whole production together was Rodwin’s earnestness. Beyond the punchlines and sexual anecdotes, there was a sincerity in the way he talked about love that can only come from a person who’s experienced both the best and worst that relationships have to offer. As an audience member, watching him gush about his main “love interest” in the narrative felt surprisingly and pleasantly wholesome, particularly for a show about Tinder.

That same sincerity drives Rodwin to the very end of the show when he stops to ask if the audience wants to hear a short epilogue of his life since the events of the play — one that’s seen far more romantic success than his years of Tinder dates. It’s a testament to his connection with the audience that the crowd responded so enthusiastically, and more importantly, it’s a testament to the fact that despite Rodwin’s somewhat dry delivery, “F*ck Tinder” had everyone rooting for a happy ending.

Lauren Sheehan-Clark covers theater. Contact her at [email protected].