Swipe right for Mae Martin
Roxy Bourdillon goes on a long overdue Tinder date with one of our favourite stand-up comedians.
So, funny thing...” I hesitate, searching for the most professional way to say this. Then I realise there is no professional way to bring up the fact you once almost hooked up with your interviewee, so I just blurt it out instead. “A couple of years ago, we matched on Tinder.”
Mae and I are sitting opposite each other in a north London cafe doing an interview for DIVA and simultaneously having one of the most unusual Tinder dates I’ve experienced. Before you assume I’m an obsessive stalker abusing my power to access hot queer celebs, I should point out that I’m now loved up with someone I didn’t meet on Tinder. (It was GaydarGirls.com – I cast a wide net.)
Mae’s response when I drop the T-bomb is to put her head in her hands and exclaim, “This keeps happening to me!” Say what, now? Exactly how much right-swiping is she doing? “It’s happened once recently. This is so funny. I wonder if I could find you.” She reaches for her phone and, shame-faced at my own brazen online seduction technique, I beg her not to, stopping just short of prising the mobile out of her hands.
It’s not exactly the most romantic date I’ve ever been on – it’s 11am on a Thursday and her PR is at the next table – but it is one of the funniest. Onstage, Canadian-born/London-based Mae is a mild-mannered comedy sprite, beguiling audiences with her self-conscious vulnerability, before delighting them with a killer punchline. IRL, she has that same disarming honesty and quirky sense of humour.
“Why didn’t we meet up?” she wants to know.
“I think you just weren’t that into me, Mae.”
“I’m sure I was. But if it was a couple of years ago I’d just broken up with my ex. I would have been in the throes of despair. I didn’t follow through on many app interactions because I was still hung up.”
We swap stories of finding ourselves post-break-up in the online dating wilderness. “It’s the worst feeling, isn’t it?” she intimates. “You get that weird phantom limb syndrome.”
The same break-up that drove her to dating apps inspired last year’s hit show Us, which earned her rave reviews and a Radio 4 series. In Mae Martin’s Guide to 21st Century Sexuality she tackles the slippery topic of sexual fluidity.
“We’re moving towards a time when we won’t have to label sexuality and be so tribal,” suggests Mae. “I’ve always dated men and women, and I wanted to wave the banner for bisexual people because there’s a lot of erasure. The problem isn’t us labelling our sexuality, it’s when other people label it for you.”
Ever since her first stand-up review referred to her as “Gay Mae”, critics and audiences alike have made assumptions about her sexual proclivities. “For years I had the prefix to my name of ‘lesbian comedian’, but that isn’t how I identify.” Even her friends were shocked when, newly single, she casually mentioned she was dating men as well as women. “You lied,” they told her. “You lied with your hair.”
Read the rest of our interview with Mae in the August issue of DIVA, available now at divadigital.co.uk.
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