Bentley Browning presents a 12-step Tinder Rehab programme to guarantee you more success on Tinder, helping lonely hearts find love or strengthen an already existing relationship. He describes it himself as a cross between The Generation Game and Love Island. He’s not wrong – it’s an insultingly obvious game show and a forced, awkward fake reality TV show rolled up into one excruciating package.
Browning stumbles left, right and centre across his material – few gags hit the mark and often misjudge the audience entirely. On top of that, there is the dreaded interaction portion that everyone actively shrinks and shies away from. When done right, this can be a forum to galvanise the comedian and the crowd; both parties share in the resulting freedom of throwing yourself into whatever ridiculous activity has been cooked up. Browning puts all his efforts into making sure we are made to feel comfortable. It doesn’t work. Instead we all get up and engage in what can only be described as team-building activities with increasing levels of awkwardness. We re-enact live Tinder swiping between the men and the women; we wander round and pay each other saccharine compliments in the hopes of lifting our spirits. It’s painfully tedious to partake in.
The biggest issue with the interactive elements is that there are simply too many of them – it throws into question whether Browning doesn’t have enough material to span a 50-minute show. The material he does have largely falls flat, with the exception of self-deprecating comparisons between himself and the likes of David Cameron, Dale Winton and Jeremy Clarkson. The hilarity is in the truth behind these observations, whereas his stories of dating, seeing an image specialist and comparing audience members to paedophiles are way off target. Then he sticks a piece of rose quartz in his pants…. Your guess is as good as mine.
Tinder Rehab rumbles on painfully until the end, where it reduces itself to an amateur dramatic rehearsal of a woman re-enacting a date by combing her hair, brushing her teeth and pretending to be interested in the conversation. I mimic her reaction with Browning’s material. The final message is Browning’s secret to Tinder success – be positive and say thank you. That’s it. Well, I’m positive I did not enjoy this “masterclass” and I’m thankful that it was only an hour long. If this is how to date, I’m more than happy to stay single.
Tinder Rehab is playing Sweet Grassmarket until 20 August 2017. For more information and tickets, see www.edfringe.com