New York comedy nerds know Lane Moore from her sold-out “Tinder Live” shows at the Bell House (149 7th Street, Brooklyn, thebellhouseny.com), where she hilariously rips apart arrogant, misogynist, or frightening creepers, while genuine, sweet, or earnest schlubs receive a merciful left swipe and remain unmocked. And Moore’s indie-rock four-piece It Was Romance was selected as Bust magazine’s Best Band of 2015. Locals are likely less familiar with her acting chops, despite her indie Web series, Gold Stars, and several years as a VH1 talking head. That seems poised to change.
This spring, the Brooklyn-based writer/comedian/musician/actor brought her signature snark to a Girls cameo as a bored, fedora-clad Williamsburg thrift store clerk. While Marnie unburdens herself in a tedious confessional monologue while trying on a “Bob Mackie Barbie Doll” dress, Moore manages to cram disdain, bemusement, superiority, and just a hint of a smirk into a monosyllabic “Cool.” Just around the time we’d pay cash money to stop listening to the Girl ramble, Moore turns away from her to flip through a magazine with the perfect blend of absentmindedness and micro-aggression. Ahhhhh.
The actress’s background lent meta mojo to this scene: If her shopgirl has the air of a retail worker with a creative off-the-clock life, that’s probably because she spent five years in Williamsburg as a writer for The Onion, still does stand-up and plays shows there with her band, and was named one of the 50 Funniest People in Brooklyn by Brooklyn magazine.
“I remember when I was a little kid thinking, ‘I want to be the kind of actor that Janeane Garofalo is, where, even if she has a smaller role, she knocks it so out of the park that it basically becomes her movie,’ ” Moore says. “I love strong character actors who can do that, and if I can be one of them, that’s thrilling.”
Indeed, in less talented hands, the role could have been a forgettable throwaway. Instead, Moore’s pitch-perfect delivery, disaffected eye rolls, and body language neatly telegraphed how thoroughly she was over Marnie’s bullshit…and probably ours, too. Anyone who has ever been mortified by some insufferably twee Beacon’s Closet buyer rejecting our ill-fitting pleather jackets or wrong-color skinny jeans will instantly recognize Moore’s character, except this time the schadenfreude works for us.
Her performance earned praise from the New York Times as a Girls season highlight. “I’m really grateful that appearance on Girls gave people a chance to see what I could do,” Moore says. Asked her ideal part, Moore refuses to choose, rattling off comedic roles, dramatic material, darker stuff, rom-coms — so long as she please has something to do. “Parts I can make my own and play with a little. Any time I get brought in for ‘woman with a face,’ I’m like, ‘OK, but what if I was ‘woman with a face’ but she’s like really hilarious and weird and interesting and fun?’ And they’re like, ‘No, just have a face.’ ”
It’d be criminal to underuse her that way. (And not just because It Was Romance recently released a shot-by-shot remake of Fiona Apple’s “Criminal.”) “I’ve been acting, writing, directing, writing songs, making music, and doing comedy since I could speak, really,” Moore says. “I’ve never not been doing all of those things all the time.” Casting directors, that’s your cue.