In Defense Of Liking Sad Things

Posted By Theatre

I like all things sad, depressing and heart-wrenching. I like sad music, I like sad movies, I like sad novels, stories, plays and poems.

I must say first that I myself am not a sad person, nor would anyone who knows me describe me as one. I have been the “funny girl” my entire life. Making people laugh was my way to get through any of the sadness I had endured in my 25 years of living. I must also say I am a huge fan of stand up comedy and comedy in general, but when it comes to naming my top favorite music, plays, books and movies, they all have one thing in common: they are sad (or depressing… or disturbing). This doesn’t mean I am a dark person, or a self-deprecating person, or that I worship Satan. It means that I find more meaning in art that is on the darker side of things. It is more meaningful for me to experience when it is sad. It’s like when you have known someone for a long time and then one day they open up to you and tell you something a little darker about their childhood, or something that happened to them. Whether it be little or big, they become more human to you. Your relationship deepens. I believe we all are attracted to flaws… to people who have experience with sadness, because no matter what we all have or will experience sadness too. The stories we tell each other about sadness make us connect on a deeper level. They make us more comfortable about the fact that were all in this together. Who the hell wants to be around a bunch of perfect people who are constantly happy? Now THAT would make me a sad person.

There was a recent documentary about stand up comedian, Tig Notaro. In the span of a couple weeks, Tig lost her mother, was diagnosed with breast cancer and was dumped by her girlfriend. She came out onstage to do a set right when all of this was happening and decided in that moment she was going to scrap her material and just tell the audience in the realest way what had happened. Some laughed, some cried and some stood up and clapped. Some just sat there in shock. This standup soon spread by word of mouth and was called “legendary” by Comedians, Magazine Writers, Podcasts and Newspapers everywhere. Comedian Louis C.K tweeted: “In 27 years doing this, I’ve seen a handful of truly great, masterful standup sets. One was Tig Notaro last night.” It was really this set that launched her career.

I give this example because she went to the venue that night to make people laugh — this was her job; making people happy, when in that moment, her life was the darkest it had ever been. And what she did was flip that on its head. She told the sad, sad truth in all its glory. Because in tragedy — in the worst circumstances — we can find the best possible humour. We can somehow find all the beauty and the realness. Through sad things, we can find a more meaningful way to get through all the bad shit… and we all know there will be much more of the bad shit in life than the good shit. The sad helps me get through a lot of bad things that have happened to me, it makes me a funnier person (I swear)… a more insightful person. It makes me understand people just a little more. That is why I gravitate towards writing, reading and watching all things sad. It gives me a perspective that I wouldn’t have if I only liked fun and happy things. It challenges me to find the funny and the happy within the sad. And that can reflect onto our daily lives and our experiences. Because if you face tragedy, suffering and depression, it makes it easier to stomach and easier to sympathize, rather than shutting off your computer or closing your book because you just want the happy. Sad things need to be seen and talked about… they need to exist, or else we won’t have those amazing moments of laughter or joy. So don’t hide from your sadness. Sit in it. Because it will find you again and again, and it will make the good moments even better.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to reading my depressingly sad book, and listening to my depressingly sad music.