Artist on Artist: Cara Foran and Adam Ruben
Brandon Wetherbee | Jul 9, 2015 | 10:30AM |

Capital Fringe Fest is right around the corner, and it looks like it’s going to be weirder than ever (and we mean that in the best way possible of course), so we had performers Cara Foran and Adam Ruben interview each other because why not. While the goal was to discuss their upcoming Capital Fringe shows, everyone got off topic and started talking about married dudes on Tinder, which is exactly what you want in an interview because its weird and gross and now we have so many questions about Tinder.

Anyway, Capital Fringe Festival kicks off this Friday, July 10. You can check out Adam Ruben’s show about his career in stand-up, I Feel Funny: True Misadventures in Stand-up Comedy, and Cara Foran’s show about dating in DC, District of Cara, throughout the run of the Festival. You can even see them both at once — they run back to back on Thursday, July 23. If you want to see even more Capital Fringe shows, take a look at our oh so helpful preview.

Cara: First of all, have we ever really talked before?

Adam: No, I don’t think so.

Cara: I’ve seen you perform stories, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen you perform stand-up.

Adam: You’re not missing much.

Cara: Should we start with a little bio thing?

Adam: Sure. So I do stand-up and storytelling. Been doing stand-up for about 15 years, storytelling closer to five years. And I do other semi-related things. I do some humor writing; I have a book out, and I’m about to release a second book that I’m supposed to be working on right now. I teach with SpeakeasyDC, but rarely because I have two kids. I’m a producer of Mortified in D.C. and Baltimore and we do about five shows a year. That’s always fun. How about you?

Cara: I’ve been telling stories and taking improv and standup classes for about three years. I have a day job doing marketing and communications for a financial services institution. I actually started out more as a writer–I had a blog that I spent a lot of time on and was really proud of. And then I got this new job, and I knew I wasn’t going to have a lot of time to really do the blog any more, and in sort of a panic, I signed up for a Speakeasy class. That was in 2012. I’d never done anything on stage before, never did drama in high school, never took a class, nothing. And I just was totally bitten by the bug.

Adam: So you’re going from zero to solo show in three years. Wow.

Cara: I know, it seems a little…

Adam: Ballsy.

Cara: Ballsy, yeah. Right now it seems a little insane.

Adam: But in a good way.

Cara: Well…my friends and storytelling compatriots Derek Hills told me that I could, and and Jenny Splitter offered to produce it for me, and it kind of took on a life of it’s own. Until I realized I was going to have to write it–and then, more terrifyingly, memorize it. And now here we are.

Adam: What’s it like having someone direct your solo show? I know that a lot of people do it, and a lot of people find it completely necessary and helpful–Mike Daisey, who is one of the most prolific storytellers in the country, his wife directs his shows. And I also consult my wife for advice, but picturing what I know a theatrical director does–sitting there while you rehearse–I would find it more difficult, I think, to have a second person have that much input. How do you feel about it?

Cara: Jenny is producing my show, not directing, and she’s great. She knows the whole Fringe thing, so she’s negotiated all of that for me. She got the art for my postcards and flyers, and she backed it financially, so all of the millions of dollars I’m going to make will go to her first. I was going to have a director, and I had several people in mind from Speakeasy, but frankly, I just didn’t get my show written in time. So now I’m crowdsourcing my directing — I’ve asked a lot of other storytellers to sit through my rehearsals and give me feedback in exchange for my undying love and affection. That forces me to practice, too, since I am chronically a last-minute finisher.

Adam: I have the exact same issue! I always wait, and if I think of one thing in February and write it down, I think, “Wow, I’ve just made tremendous progress! I’m really workin’ on this show!” And then in June, I start looking at the calendar, counting down the days. I use my commute to practice a lot, just speaking out loud to myself alone in the car. I always get audiobooks from the library for my commute, but now I’ve deliberately banned them from my car so I’m basically forced to say, “Okay, I’ve got 35 minutes, let me just set the timer and start talking, and I’ll get through the first half and work out the little bumps as they come up.”

Cara: So do you write it all out? Are you a scripter?

Adam: No. Sometimes I’ll script only because it helps for future reference to have it on paper, or to give the tech person some cues, but for the most part, no. For this how, I’m trying to see what will happen if I have no one doing tech. We’ll see. I don’t know. I’ve done my first solo show in other places were I had to do the tech all by myself–using a Powerpoint clicker on stage, hitting light switches, and I learned that it helps for the future if a show is portable.

Cara: So is that why you’re not doing a tech-heavy show?

Adam: Right. That, and the fact that this show doesn’t require a lot of tech. I feel like it would be extra to put in unnecessary tech for this particular show; I want it to be bare bones.

Cara: Is this show more of one narrative arc that starts with “Hey, I should do stand-up” and ends where you are now?

Adam: Kind of both. It has sub-stories–a story about the first time I did stand-up and ended up at a terrible open mic night. The show explores a lot of the mistakes I’ve made and horrible situations I’ve gotten into while traveling around doing stand-up. I would say it has more sub-stories than one really chronological narrative arc, though there’s kind of a message, but hopefully not a message that’s too crammed in. How about you?

Cara: I definitely relied on stories I’ve told in other venues and on old writing. It’s primarily about dating in DC. I’ve lived in DC since 1993, so 22 years. Now I claim native because I’ve lived here longer than I lived in Ohio, which is where I’m from. I really wanted to do a show that talked a lot about DC, and I thought about doing one that was based on the different places I’ve lived–“I was 22, and I lived in Logan Circle, and it was a shit hole, and this was a crazy thing that happened, and then I moved a little bit north to northern Logan Circle, which was slightly less of a shit hole, and this was a crazy thing that happened”–but I realized that probably the richest vein I have in my storytelling, and the thing that audiences have responded to, is the stories I’ve told about dating. So that’s kind of the spine of it.

Adam: So what is there to say about dating guys in DC?

Cara: When I was in my 20’s, I just kind of met people when I was out, and it was all very organic and old-fashioned. And then in my 30’s, I didn’t want to go out as often–I got that nesting urge before I had a nest–so I started doing the online dating thing. This was probably 2009, 2010. Online dating was super exciting, and it was like a boyfriend catalog. I was pretty naive. I thought everyone was there for the same thing, trying to meet someone and see if we could start a relationship, and we’d end up with cute little kids in charter schools and my mother dancing at my wedding. And it took me longer than I’d like to admit to learn that other people’s motives aren’t always that pure.

Adam: I’ve never done online dating, so I don’t know anything about it.

Cara: So many guys are actually married. This guy contacted me on Tinder recently, and we made plans to get a drink, but first I asked if he was married. And he was like, “Oh, I was afraid you were going to ask that. I am married, but it’s a sexless marriage, so it’s okay.” I was like, “Well, it might be okay for you but it’s definitely not okay for me — probably not okay for your wife either, I bet.” This guy was 35, had been married for 10 years. I don’t think he understood what people who’ve been fighting the dating wars online do, which is that it’s a small world. There’s no real anonymity. You think you’re lost in a sea of people, but I can guarantee you that one of your wife’s friends is going to see your profile on this app.

Adam: So I should do Tinder Baltimore. Seriously, how often does this happen?

Cara: I’d say 20% of the time.

Adam: Seriously? That’s crazy.

Cara: And even more common is just-separated. I swear these dudes download all the dating apps while they’re still sitting in the driveway of their old houses. The CDC should ban them from engaging in online dating because they’re terribly destructive forces. I had a habit of dating those guys because they’re like lost little souls, but they start acting like they’re in a long-term relationship with the first person they start dating. That’s seductive for some women, and I was one of them. But it’s always a false start, so I’ve learned to avoid them, after several painful lessons.

Adam: So of the people that you’ve already triaged, determined that they live nearby, are of the right age, etc., you’re saying that 20% of those people turn out to be married, and what percent are freshly out of a long-term relationship?

Cara: For me, it’s been like another 30%. So half are either married or so recently separated that they might as well be. And it gets worse as you get older. Also, a weirdly high proportion of them seem to be in IT.

Adam: And they’re like, “Hey, I’m only dating you because your last name sounds like Fortran.”