"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." - Hamlet
'Crappiness': the joy in knowing that any situation will eventually turn to shituation. That is my thesis and since December, I've been researching it and testing it live - through comedy.
The Pursuit of Crappiness is an ongoing live and online social research project exploring the idea of 'happiness' and an alternative route to achieving it…through embracing the crappy elements of our daily lives we just can't avoid. We all live in the craposphere, which is made up of a myriad of potential shituations. I believe that true happiness in it's global marketing portrayal is a false pursuit, and that contentment should be the real goal, and should be measured by the joy we absolutely have to find in life's shituations (let's face it - it's darn funny when crap happens to other people). Crappiness is more than schadenfreude though: it's an all-encompassing feeling of give and take, like a downbeat version of karma - as much as you laugh at others, be sure to allow others to allow the crap you put onto the world. Happiness is only a small part of our emotional spectrum, and it should never ever be craved as a 24/7 thing.
"The ultimate proof that the supposed happiness of others doesn't make us happy? Look at any billboard of a smiling gurning
face slapped across the H&M, Addidas or Top Shop photo: when you're staring up at that on a shituation-filled day, you don't
look up and feel happiness. What makes you happy is seeing a graffitti'd cock drawn on their cheek, aiming into the mouth: a
bit of anarchy on the world of false happiness - that's what we connect with, and what fills us with a microsecond jolt of joy." - Moj Taylor, The Pursuit of Crappiness Edingburgh Fringe show.
I genuinely hope to turn this thesis into a PHD one day into the emotional science of crappiness - and whether it genuinely is the key to healthy physical and mental health (as a serial tic-sufferer, I know about the physical affects the human spectrum of emotion can trigger). In the shorter term, I hope to get the word 'shituation' into the Collins Dictionary.
All my live research (comedy, work in progress shows, scratch nights), and my 6 month (and counting) online 'crappiness poll' (now up to 130 participants) and has all fed into the final Edinburgh Fringe show. I say final - the beauty of The Pursuit of Crappiness is that it is a uniquely audience-based show. I am simply the messenger: the show is all based around how 130 people (and counting) have reacted to my poll on happiness, and through the show, audience members describe their shituations, and tweet me @mojtaylor after the show with their #crappiness thoughts and ongling #shituations...and the joy they found in them. I can't thank the audiences enough who have contributed live, online or both since January. This show genuinely wouldn't have been so though-provoking, funny and cerebral without every single one of your inputs. Through my daily battle with the tic disorder that I have zero control over, and with no Richter scale prediction of when it will strike (eating popcorn and haircuts are interesting...which is why my head and facial hair is currently so long), I've had to accept that uncertainty and potential shituations are imbedded in every second of human life. Crappiness makes us question life, it makes us really look at a situation and inspire change and self-betterment. Crappiness affirms who our friends and lovers are: the people we know we can express our deepest anxieties, desires, queries about the human condition, and shituations with. Crappiness brings conversation, it affirms memories, it brings life. Crappiness brings the world together - social media is essentially a conveyor belt of the world's individual shituations, which we can choose to pay attention to and care about, or not. I've realised in my research thus far, that the vast majority of us choose not to embrace crap, because of our constant quest for self-improvement and perfectionism - which all comes from thinking to the point where we dangerously affect our mental and physical health. Crappiness is present mindedness, and the route to future psychological development. And the best part? True contentment comes through those small things that truly matter: who will listen to your problems, who will be there for you, and who you want to be tomorrow.
The Pursuit of Crappiness, Edinburgh Fringe 2015 (£5 reserve OR free entry - pay what you want OR £2.50 reserve at Virgin Half Price Ticket Hut):
As most Stoics, plus The Guardian's feature writer Oliver Burkeman, and numerous philosophers and psychologists have pondered: learning to embrace insecurity and uncertainty (the chance of a situation-to-shituation) may be the real answer to happiness. My blog & live shows centre around my constant struggle with the cult of optimism inherent in society, and how I'm trying to embrace crappiness.
Why am I so passionate about this theory? Because it's not just me...
Over the past 5 years, I have visited 100s of schools across the UK, with the not-for-profit I am the Executive of: the award-winning Push Talks. This year I've spoken to over 10,000 students and have used the closing section of my talk to take a snap poll: getting students to put their hands up if they feel 'crappiness is a part of daily life', and secondly: 'if this actually brings you the majority of your conversation and humour'. The answers may surprise a lot of 'happy' people out there. My passion is helping people figure out what they truly want from life, and stand up is a great medium to do this though - I aim is to use live comedy to continue this discussion live with Edinburgh Fringe audiences, and maybe we might just help social mobility and change peoples' wellbeing for the better.
You can contribute to my never-ending happiness poll and the results will be used in the live shows. It's a free survey and will take you 2 minutes - I'd really appreciate it (its short mainly because if it were anymore than 10 questions, I would have had to pay...Edinburgh shows are expensive you know). On this page, click where it says 'TAKE THE POLL' (move your eyes a smidgen up on the screen....and to the right...there it is!).
And most importantly, come along and see the show: