The Tonight Show’s new single-shaming segment. You’ll love it!
Last night, at the end of a 13-hour workday, I was tagged on Twitter because Jimmy Fallon was shitting on single people. I’ve had some rest now, so brace yourselves. As he often does, Jimmy Fallon put out a call for funny fodder that he can use on The Tonight Show to get laughs and entertain the good people of this country. I myself have participated in such gems as “ruin a movie with one word” and so forth. Last night, it was: “It’s Hashtags time! Tweet out a funny, weird, or embarrassing reason you’re single and tag it with #WhyImSingle. Could be on the show!” Hey Jimmy Fallon, fuck you!
Comedy is a space where anything goes, because laughter is often medicine to deal with some of the toughest times in life. We make fun of each other, and ourselves, because it’s both entertaining and healing. Pretty much anything is on the table when it comes to comedy, and I like that. The idea of censoring jokes because someone might be offended turns comedy into something it’s not. So if we’re going to love comedy, we have to be okay with a joke every now and then being made at our expense, and take it in stride. Except when someone’s being a blatant dick, then we ride at dawn.
“Funny, weird, or embarrassing reason you’re single.”
Let’s unpack, I’ve got time. First, there is only ever one “reason” why anyone is single. They haven’t met their partner. That’s it. That’s literally the only reason why anyone is single when they don’t want to be. There are too many couples walking around with “flaws” for miles for me to ever believe that an absence of funny, weird, or embarrassing qualities is what brings people together in couplehood. Reasons. Hey, let’s not only shame single people, let’s make sure they know their own singleness is both a) a bad thing and b) their fault. If Jimmy Fallon got divorced, I wonder what his “reasons” would be.
Why is it “funny, weird, or embarrassing?” If you wanna roll up sleeves on this, I’m fucking fine with that. Why don’t we just get real about this and say that many of us are single because modern dating has become a platform where 1/3 the people using it are looking for sex work they don’t have to pay for, another third thinks it’s a space to find a spouse, and the last third are fake human bots. It’s a cesspool of competing goals run by an industry whose last goal is for you to stop feeding it money. You think the modern dating world wants anyone currently single to actually meet someone? You think it wants less business? Bless your late night heart. You still think it’s “reasons.”
Or we could dig into my favorite “flaw,” the fact that some of us are just too much. You know, with our thriving careers bills on autopay matching dishes multiple bath towels actual bed frames and a complete lack of tolerance for bullshit. We’re called “intimidating” or “high maintenance” but those on the other side of the chess board are never called “disappointing” or “lazy sacks of shit,” you know?
Maybe I’m single because I won’t settle for scraps, Jimmy. And maybe those who were lucky enough to find what they wanted sooner in time than those who are single among us should shut the fuck up and not ask to us to publicly call out what we perceive to be the things society shuns us for.
He’s not even telling a fucking story about himself! He’s using something that happened to a friend, something that’s actually really sweet and genuine. He’s insinuating that a man trying to work on himself is somehow uncool, and that uncoolness is what makes him single. Self awareness and a desire to improve, what a turn-off! Do you know how many single women I know who would love to meet Kevin? Who would find that Post-it endearing if not charming? I have 15K podcast listeners a month, should we ask them? Jimmy Fallon has never been single (and not famous) in the modern era of digital dating hell, and I’d know it without Google’s help.
Do you know the best part? What’s really just the tits? The fact that he’s using single people themselves to single-shame. He can’t even come right out and say how sad and pathetic he thinks it is to be single, he has to enlist the help of singles to do it for him. Coward. Here’s how I know it’s not comedy, it’s just someone being an asshole: He doesn’t just make jokes about single people on his own, does he? Do you know any comedians who just slam into single people other than themselves because of how lame and fault-driven being single is? No, because you don’t do that. Because people who want love and can’t find it aren’t your easy laugh. There is nothing easy about being single when society shames you for it.
We live in a world where lucky people meet through friends, at parties, at work (like Jimmy did!), and now we’re asking single people to assume their single status is due to our own fucking undesirability? Do you know how many married people I wouldn’t touch for green money you assumptive dick?
Couples, do y’all think you’re perfect? Is that why you think you’re together? You’re together because you were lucky enough to meet someone with whom you formed a bond and partnership. You are lucky enough not to move through the world—including a global pandemic that ain’t done yet—alone. And now one of you has the balls to publicly call for singles to degrade themselves for other people’s entertainment?
You’ll see a lot of single people actually giving Jimmy “reasons” in his Tweet replies. That’s because most of the content out there for singles shames us. Most of the content is about dating and how to “find someone,” implying that that’s what we should be doing, because we’re single, and that’s bad. If the only mentions of singles we see out in the world tell us how wrong and bad we are, we’re going to think we’re wrong, too.
We’re not a joke. We’re also not court jesters or gladiators, flaying ourselves for the masses who couldn’t give less of shit about the impact the game has on us. Single people aren’t a soft place for jokes to land, not when they’re made from a place of someone thinking they’re better than us. You’d better check that divorce rate before you come for singles. Put yourself in the position of people dating in an age where we’re no more valuable than the millisecond it takes to move your thumb to the left and imagine what it would feel like to be plunged into our world. A world where all we want is love, and what we get is people making fun of us in return. And if the longest running late night show in American history can’t find more to talk about than how pathetic it is to be a thing that everyone is or will be at one point in time, you start to wonder about the reasons why.
Update: The segment sucked.
Shani Silver is a humor essayist and podcaster. You can read all her Medium essays here.