I may be up at the Edinburgh Fringe, but dating is rarely far from my thoughts.
Later tonight I’ll tell you guys about my 3rd Date Around the World, at the Edinburgh Festival with a comedian I asked out over Twitter! But first, I thought I’d tell you about a rather fitting show that I watched last night at the Fringe.
The weird thing about being a dating blogger is that I’m surrounded by the topic day in, and day out, but it’s interesting to take a step away from the blog, and to realise that it’s not just my world which is affected by the whole dating game. This weekend I’ve watched eleven hour-long shows, and the topic of dating has come up in some way in every single one. Max Dickins’ entire Groupon Adventure was set into motion because his ex dumped him and told him he wasn’t spontaneous enough. James Veitch spams the spammers in his stand-up show, but makes jokes about his single status throughout his set. And in one of their sketches Irish comedy trio Foil, Arms & Hog play the roles of a happy clappy Christian band which shouts “whore!” at any unmarried woman in the crowd with a boyfriend!
Dating is all around us, and it affects us all in different ways, whether we’re doing it, or not.
The more shows I go to up here in Edinburgh, the more I realise something important about stand-up. It needs to be genuine. The best shows we’ve seen this weekend are the ones you can whole-heartedly believe. James Veitch’s concept of directing spam email at spammers was not just hilarious and slickly done, it was also believable. On face value, he’s a nerd. A lovely, funny, approachable guy, but also a nerd. And so the idea of him spending hours of his spare time involved in lengthy email chains with spammers in Nigeria, was completely believable. We believed him when he showed us a special code he’d asked a ‘Nigerian prince’ to use whenever they communicated about a deal in gold. And we believed the Nigerian prince’s nonsensical response – an email where the word bank had been replaced by ‘Wotsits’, where James’s name had become ‘Twiglet’, and where Western Union banking was represented by ‘Pickled Onion Monster Munch’!
The same can be said for Tom Craine. Not that he’s a nerd who spends his evenings creating codes for African spammers out of crisp brands … but that he’s genuine.
He was so down to earth, in fact, that he escorted two of my friends to a VIP loo just before his show, because they’d arrived without leaving enough time to find another toilet! Complete legend! (and stupid friends!)
Tom Craine is a comedian, but he is also the male dating columnist for Cosmopolitan. He started his column ‘Sex and The Single Guy’ earlier this year, and I can honestly say I’ve got a lot of time for the way he writes about dating and being single.
The thing about Tom is that you believe him, when he tells you his bad date stories. Early on in his set, while he describes a date with a particularly athletic woman, you feel like you’re there watching on the date, as a rogue cross wind hits him mid-run and sends him falling embarrassingly into a bush. He may write for a glossy magazine, but he’s not a glossy, manicured star. He’s a real guy, telling real life dating stories. And if writing this blog has taught me anything, it’s that when it comes to dating, we all want to hear the truth.
His Fringe show is called Thoughts on Love (By a Man with None of the Answers). The venue was fitting – an intimate bunker at the Pleasance Courtyard, with Tom standing in the middle of the room, telling us his musings on dating and being single this past year. We heard about his parents, their 55 year-long partnership, and his childhood, and he explained the way those things have affected his outlook on dating, and being single.
To be honest, it was really good to hear a guy coming to the same conclusions that I do about dating, settling down, and being single.
The problem with the dating industry, is that often the only men who are willing to put their heads above the parapet, admit to being single, and actually talk about it, are Pick Up Artist coaches … which is a very different breed of dating advice. And whilst Tom comes at dating from a stand-up comic’s perspective, it’s heartening that he also comes at it from a very genuine, insecure male perspective – because deep down we’re all pretty vulnerable. It takes a special breed of comic to be able to combine confidence and vulnerability – he needed the confidence to stand up and deliver a funny, well-written set about the topic, but also the vulnerability for us all to believe that he was actually going through all the same trials and dating tribulations as the rest of us.
I think a testament to how good the show is, was the response of one of the friends I was watching it with. He’s a single 30 year-old. An attractive laddish guy, who certainly knows how to use Tinder. And I watched as he sat completely fascinated with everything Tom had to say about dating.
Because yes, it was honest, and vulnerable … but it was also very funny, and it made sense to everyone in the room, not just the girls or the dating bloggers.
What Tom had to say about being single was refreshing. He hit the nail on the head, talking about people rushing into relationships for the sake of it, and blurting the L word before they even mean it. He spoke out about the way people in bad relationships are often too scared to let them go, because they are unnecessarily worried about what being single entails. He explained his own fussiness, and what he’s looking for in a relationship in such a way that everyone in the room understood where he was coming from, whether they were 30 years married (like one couple in front of us), or single too. He expressed the same frustrations we all have about the Match.com Tube ads that suggest as a singleton we wish ‘everyone else in the carriage were single’ (erm … no thanks … have you seen the average Tube carriage collective?!). He also pointed out the way non-singles offer pity to singles, as if we need it … and suggested maybe we should start offering pity back to those couples who we can see are actually far more miserable than we are!
But above all, in the way only a good stand-up can do, he embedded all these observations into a neat, interesting narrative, taking us on a story which culminated in him being arrested for terrorism at Belfast airport!
As someone who puts a great deal of thought into what she says and writes about dating (because I read the heartfelt emails I get in response, and I meet the singletons behind those emails day in, day out), I’m really glad I went to see Tom’s show. Cosmpolitan reaches 240,000 people every edition, and a great number of those readers are teenagers far younger than us. Teenagers who need the right advice when it comes to dating. Honest advice, which comes from the heart. And ironically, having watched a comedy show about his dating advice, I’m more than convinced that that is exactly where what Tom Craine writes about dating comes from. He quips that he has none of the answers, but in his genuine, sincere approach, he far more sensible opinions than a number of the world’s self-confessed ‘experts’.
I don’t do comedy reviews, as a dating blogger, a single girl, and an Edinburgh Festival punter, I would really recommend this show.
4.5 stars … Am I allowed to do half stars? 😉
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx
Tom Craine’s show – Thoughts on Love (by a Man with None of the Answers) is running from the 13th to the 25th August at the Pleasance Courtyard.
You can find out more about him at tomcraine.com, or follow him on Twitter @tomcraine.