Christian dating website ChristianMingle.com has been the butt of many, many jokes over the years. (Just one example: the “Gay Christian Mingle“ parody video.) In spite of that—or perhaps in part because of it—the website is also extremely active.
But what about atheists looking for love? It seems there are a few atheist dating websites, though after a quick glance it’s difficult to tell how active they actually are. And while apparently atheists receive more responses than theists on dating website OkCupid, as of now there is nothing quite like an atheist version of Christian Mingle.
Perhaps inspired by this fact, two up-and-coming comedians decided to imagine what an atheist dating website success story might look like.
Delaney Yeager and Luke Mones are members of Skootch Comedy, a sketch comedy group based in New York City, alongside Jon Comulada, Corey Dome, and Steven Tooke. All five of them met as interns at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Every member of the group is involved in writing, producing, and comedy—and last month the group released a video called “Atheist Mingle” (note: video includes not safe for work language), which eventually got picked up by Funny or Die.
“Atheist Mingle” is full of jokes poking fun at stereotypes about atheists—from excessive Internet use (“I went online—ah, I guess I was already on the Internet for most of that day, so yeah.”) and a penchant for Richard Dawkins videos (“I mean, please, YouTube a Richard Dawkins lecture and get back to me!”), to bitterness (“At Atheist Mingle we understand how difficult it can be to find someone who shares the same bitterness you do about religion, ignorant people, and the world in general…”) and being judgmental of theists (“You prayed?!” “It’s a phase I went through in college… I don’t do it anymore. Everyone tries it.”).
“Atheist Mingle” broadly plays on these and other widespread stereotypes about atheists, which could make it an effective prompt for a discussion about how atheists are perceived. Of course as many atheists know, the negative stereotypes exemplified in “Atheist Mingle”—that we are all angry, argumentative, and antitheistic—are in fact just stereotypes. They can’t be applied universally, likely reflect a minority of atheists, and every community faces their own unique stereotypes. But after speaking with a number of atheist friends, most of whom got a laugh out of the video, I wanted to find out what the stars of the video thought about these stereotypes, and whether they had a particular agenda in producing the parody. Are they atheists? What do they think about atheism as a movement? How did atheists respond to their video?
Given that they’re, you know, comedians, I didn’t always get a straight answer out of them. But I did learn a few things. Below is our Q&A.
Chris Stedman: Last month I saw your “Atheist Mingle” video circulate a lot online (especially among atheists). I think that’s what some people call “going viral.” How did that happen?
Delaney Yeager: Internet magic?! I think people liked that they didn’t really know what they were watching. Are we Christians making fun of atheists? Are we atheists making fun of ourselves? What’s going on?!
Luke Mones: I know plenty of skateboarding kittens [that] would disagree with your definition of “going viral.” It takes them 10 minutes to get the views we got in a month. These are the real heroes, Chris.
CS: Do either of you identify as atheist? If not, how do you identify?
DY: I was raised by a father who is as atheist as they come and a mother who thought we should try going to church because “it might be good”… [But I] definitely don’t believe in anything filed under Christianity.
LM: I don’t think you should trust anyone who says they really know what’s going on, religious or atheist… But I know what’s really going on.
CS: Were you poking fun at yourselves? At other atheists? At the stereotypes about atheists?
DY: I would say we were poking fun at d) all of the above.
LM: Agreed. It’s weird, I watch the video now, and it’s almost like I can see… myself on the screen? Is that crazy?
CS: What was your favorite joke in the video? Anything left on the cutting room floor that you want to share?
DY: Any of the parts that I said? Those are my favorites… But [seriously] I can’t recall what we left on the floor. There were a lot of improvised wild lines and b-roll moments on set that really made the whole thing come together. For example the “NO GOD” in the sand thing was thought up on the spot, and that cracks me up every time.
LM: In the original cut, the “Scott” character was a St. Bernard puppy. Ultimately we didn’t think America was ready for an atheist dog, or a trans-species relationship. Also the puppy kept peeing everywhere.
CS: A number of my atheist friends thought it was funny, and that it actually parodied a number of real issues within the atheist community. What is your impression of atheism as a movement in the United States?
DY: I don’t know it as a “movement,” really. But I have always wondered why there is a name for an anti-religion… I would have to know more about what it means to be an active atheist to have an impression at all.
LM: I think it needs to get more organized. Like, what if everybody met once a week—say, I don’t know, [on] Sunday morning? And what if every atheist gave ten percent of their income to the movement? (Hopefully most of it would go to buying those “Darwin Fish” bumper stickers.)
CS: What do you think atheists can do to address some of the stereotypes that exist about us?
DY: I think all stereotypes of any group of people exist because one group of a–holes within the group of people are there… being a–holes…
LM: Go to church, ya buncha heathens!
CS: What has been the response to this video? How have atheists in particular responded?
DY: Many atheists like it, as a lot of atheists have a good sense of humor… However a lot of them got very serious about it and pointed out how inaccurate it was and believed us to be some Christian sketch comedy group…
LM: We got some death threats, but they were pretty casual.
CS: Do you plan to do any more videos on atheism?
DY: I mean, “what’s the f—ing point”…
LM: I’ve pitched several ideas, including “The Last Temptation of the Atheist,” which just involves an atheist on his deathbed trying really hard not to debate his religious hospice nurse. So, no.