Four years ago I was held up at gunpoint an hour after my girlfriend broke up with me.
That’s how my show begins.
I didn’t realize it was the beginning of a show at the time – much less a comedy – I was just happy my grandma taught me if I were ever mugged to give them what they wanted because the same guys held up ten more people that night, and those who resisted ended up in the hospital.
Four months later, the lease my girlfriend and I had finally ran out. For both traumas to happen right after each other, it felt like the Universe was trying to send me a message. I just didn’t know what it was. But the next day an old friend called me and told me I needed to get out of LA and that I should move up there and be her roommate. Boom! Message received.
You see, I’d always wanted to live in San Francisco. I fell in love with the city the first time I visited when I was seventeen because it felt like that rare utopia where you could experiment with every facet of your identity, go wild and go big – free from judgment. So right after college I moved to… New York. Because I’m a masochist. And a decade later I moved to LA… because I hate myself.
So this cataclysmic night finally gave me permission to explore that fantastical jewel box city – totally single and open to everything.
The first thing I did the day after I arrived was go to the New Years party at The Armory – home of Kink.com, the center of the universe for BDSM porn. I went home alone in the rain at 3am.
So the next thing I did was download Tinder. For the first time. See, I’d been in a serious relationship for years, but I kept hearing about Tinder – that it was all about “Free sex. Right now. Often Weird.”
And I was up for all of the above.
But, in truth, I had no idea what I was in for.
No spoilers here, but what’s pleased me the most about running the show in LA & San Francisco over the last year was not just that I sold out every performance (possibly because of my titilating title “F*ck Tinder: a love story”) but that people connected with the show regardless of their age, gender or orientation. I was honestly shocked that a 23 year-old queer woman, and a 70 year-old widower could both find something so engaging that they’d stick around to talk with me afterwards to tell me how they could relate.
Sure there’s some voyeuristic fun to hear about the scrapes I got into with absurd dates, women who led me into psychedelics and others who tempted me into sex parties. That may be why one fan re-title it “Tom Hanks in Gomorrah.” But mostly people reached out to me afterwards to say how much it meant to them because they saw themselves in my story. And that was why they’d come back to see it again.
There’s something universally thrilling and disturbing about dating online and people want to share about it as well as hear about it, so they can better make sense of their own lives. And part of why that works is that I create a framework that isn’t just sensational comedy. I take a hard look at myself which helps other people synthesize their own experience. Amazingly, I’ve run into people on the street who recognize me and stop to tell me they were terribly jaded about all the dating apps and after seeing F*ck Tinder, I’d inspired them to return to dating. That’s something I never expected.
Perhaps that’s because the story isn’t really about a middle-aged, single, white male on the prowl. It’s actually about the search for love. It’s also my exploration of why I’ve never been married and still don’t have children. My search for fatherhood in a spiritual and religious context binds the piece together and gives it a real center. The climax of that is the moment I woke up one morning next to a woman I was falling for with a piece of Torah stuck in my head. Deuteronomy 30:6. I’d studied it years earlier with a rabbi, but didn’t understand it. It reads, “You must circumcise your heart in order to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, so that you may live.”
This woman didn’t think we’d work out in the long term and told me to build a wall around my heart. And this happened during the last election. It was brutal. So I responded the only way I could.
I cut my heart open. Because that’s the only way to live.
David Rodwin has toured seven solo shows and won The Moth StorySLAM. His show “F*ck Tinder: a love story” has played to sold out crowds in Los Angeles and San Francisco and is touring from DC to Vancouver in 2018. His previous show TOTAL NOVICE is being made into a film. And his newest show “Know Your Tribe” based on the time he spent in a remote village in Papau New Guinea is in its early development. David also wrote and composed 6 opera/musicals which have been produced at venues from from LaMaMa to The Public Theatre. He studied composition at Princeton, conducting at Tanglewood with Leonard Bernstein and storytelling with Spalding Gray with whom he worked with closely for a month, shortly before he died.
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