The Many Faces of ‘Modern Love’



NPR’s Modern Love podcast came to The Town Hall for a comic one night live performance on October 20th.

Lily Dolin, Staff Writer

Love may work in many ways, but it works in even more now that things like Tinder, Skype and the rest of the digital world are changing our entire social landscape. NPR’s podcast “Modern Love” takes a weekly stab at unpacking all of the ways we love these days, and last week it hosted a special live recording of the show on Thursday, Oct. 20 at Town Hall. The show, based off the popular New York Times column of the same name, featured a variety of performances which blended together heartbreak and comedy to give audience members a glimpse into the complexity of love.

The night started off with the host for the evening, Ophira Eisenberg. She warmed up the crowd with entertaining stories about her dating mistrials, including a story about a love interest in Queens with a ridiculous penchant for “Garfield” paraphernalia. Eisenberg appeared throughout the night to introduce guests and provide funny anecdotes that kept the audience laughing.

Afterwards, Amber Tamblyn, (“127 Hours,” “Main Street” and others) read a beautiful yet haunting essay by a woman whose troubled mother took her own life in a car accident while she was beside her. The essay explored the ways in which past trauma can make it hard to love again. Her performance was resoundingly eloquent, clear and heart-wrenching.

In-between readings and throughout the evening, the band Lucius took the stage to perform incredible songs with resounding harmonies that had country and alternative undertones. The scattered sets during the night were a repeatedly entertaining break from what could often be heavier topics from the performers.

Michelle Buteau (of “Lip Service”) delivered a witty and unapologetic stand-up comedy routine about first loves and first heartbreaks, and how the end of a relationship can lead to the beginning of a new passion.

Following him, Kate Burton of “Scandal” fame gave an essay reading, and also spoke about new beginnings in dating after the age of 60. The essay perfectly sums up today’s confusing dating culture, discussing the “what are we?” conundrum facing anyone trying to define a relationship. The following interview with Elinor Lipman, author of the essay Burton read, touched upon the concept that sometimes love takes a while. She reiterated that it is a long road from friendship to something more.

Daniel Jones, the editor of the Modern Love column, then delivered a dry and humorous speech about how different genders view love in different ways. He argued that women tend to write off flawed men, such as the weed-smoking lawyer or hipster barista, in the hopes of one day finding their true love. Men, on the other hand, tend to romanticize loves of the past. His argument was a curious, thought-provoking look into how people both think of and write about relationships.

At last, David Harbour (of “Stranger Things”) took the stage to read an essay about alcoholism and dating. His performance was spot-on, a perfect balance of personal and theatrical. The essay he read followed the journey of a man as he sought to win back a girl’s heart and overcome alcoholism. In a funny and honest manner, the piece raised some interesting points about how the things that burden us often bring us together.

The performances and acts were as varied as love itself. Yet, through them, the podcast was able to highlight all joys and tribulations of modern romance, and how crazy a concept love truly is.

Email Lily Dolin at [email protected]