1 ½ stars
When Tor Snyder hits the mark, she’s hugely entertaining. In Dating Naked, healthy doses of self-deprecation and the comedy stalwart theme of an artist not being able to get their life together do actually work, albeit sporadically, to deliver laughs.
It’s such a shame though, in 2018, to find ourselves in a show that uses homosexuality as a punchline, leverages body shaming for cheap and uncomfortable laughs, and relies on cajoling members of the audience who’ve been invited on stage to remove items of clothing without the opportunity for consent.
Audience participation can be a wonderful element to include in a performance, but it should be done appropriately, with sensitivity and consideration. In Dating Naked, we found none of this.
The show started strongly enough, with Snyder successfully distracting her audience from the unbelievably cramped seating conditions in The Ramp by tossing around a beach ball and making a game of it. It was the most effective way we’ve seen a comedian ameliorate the hostile seating layout of this performance space, and it made very good use of the confusingly cavernous gulf that exists between the stage and the back of the venue.
Snyder’s opening to the show was also solid, laying out the premise and invoking well-worn tropes, but the lack of respect afforded to participating audience members and the problematic nature of many of the jokes severely let it down.
Given the lack of elegance with the audience participation - which also included harrying an audience member to portray her father in a parody sitcom of her life and then blaming him when he wasn’t playing along as fervently as she wanted - it was a poor choice to hinge the final act of the show on a mock game show format.
It would be simple to fix this. Letting participants know, before they nominate themselves, that they’ll be required to strip down to their underwear is all that’s needed to ensure that the nature of the closing segment doesn’t perpetuate issues of power and consent. There were clearly enough drunken showboaters in the audience to ensure that Snyder would get three willing volunteers even after being open about her plans for their bodies.
Taking a subversive approach to societal issues is a powerful device, but there was no evidence of this intention in Dating Naked and there is no excuse for not being aware of the hugely problematic nature of these elements.