THIS IS HAPPENING. Grief is lonely! None of my exes have swooped in to take advantage of my vulnerability (thank you?), and I’ve done enough therapy to know that now’s not the time to start a new relationship. So, I decided to take my sadness to everybody’s favorite casual hook-up swamp, Tinder, and fling it at my matches like an unsolicited dick pic. I put everything a Tinder match would need to know right there in my bio – I’m a comedian, my dad just died – and since a lot of men don’t read words if there’s a picture of pretty lady’s face above them, I made sure to mention my dad’s death at the top of each conversation. The responses have run the gamut from sweet to repulsive and wow I suddenly feel less alone. #deaddadsclub #tinder #dating #grief #comedy
This isn’t a joke: Comedian Jenn Welch’s father recently passed away, and she updated her Tinder profile to reflect that.
Tinder — a.k.a. “everybody’s favorite casual hook-up swamp,” as Welch calls it in her Instagram post above — isn’t the most sensitive and empathetic place. So this might seem like an odd way to grieve.
But for Welch, it’s helping. “The goal was not to find guys on Tinder to help me through this,” she said over the phone. “Honestly, I thought this was going to be a little project for myself, to make myself laugh.” Welch added that she leans on comedy when she’s going through something difficult. And telling men on Tinder that her dad had just died was so absurd that it has helped cheer her up.
Here’s a sample of the responses she’s received.
In a venue that’s usually used for light banter and hooking up, baring your latest tragedy is not the norm. The joke’s not on the men who respond to her, Welch said. Rather, she’s the punchline. “The joke of it is to be that brutally honest about where I am and what I’m going through,” she said.
It becomes very lonely, she added, when you think no one wants to hear what you’re going through. And certainly some of the men she’s matched with have sent sweet, empathetic responses. “I basically unmatched them as quickly as possible before they sent me a d— pic and screwed it up.”
Public grieving has been happening on Facebook for years. It might not be as common on Tinder, but Welch did draw inspiration from social media — specifically from her friend and fellow comedian Ben Wasserman, whose father passed away from cancer two weeks before Welch’s did. “We’ve kind of been grieving together,” Welch said. “He went to town on Facebook with jokes about it. … That made me feel more comfortable about being open about what I’m going through as well.”
In all her comedy, Welch has a rule for herself: “I won’t make a joke about something unless I’ve felt the feeling. … I have to let myself feel the feelings before I can joke about it.” Once she’s processed some of the emotion, she says, humor helps her stay grounded. Welch, who’s based in Brooklyn, is the co-founder of the What a Joke festival to support the ACLU.
Her Tinder experiment appears to be helping others as well. “I’ve been getting emails and comments and messages from women who’ve [lost a parent as well] and really loved the project” because it made them feel less alone, Welch said. “And that, for me, is really what it’s about.”