Seth Lepore on his one-man show, the happiness movement and infomercials
How do you define the happiness movement?
The way that I see it, it's kind of a manufactured version of an emotion, and like anything else that's out there for a while and people grasp onto, there's kind of a dogma around it. And it's not necessarily about happiness and someone's own personal happiness and their beliefs, it's about a particular product or structure that's gonna bring that to you. And that if you don't have it, it's your fault. There's a lot of blame and shame tied in underneath all of this, and I find that to be incredibly manipulative. It's not really about happiness; it's about trying to sell somebody a version of what it is, and then if that version doesn't work, coming up with a better one. It's this kind of constant battle within oneself and trying to find it through external means even though there's this rhetoric saying it's all internal, there's all these external products of how to get internal. It's this really strange loop.
What do you hope that people get out of seeing your performance?
Well, similar to my first show, I want them to laugh, but I also want them to come away wondering, "Why do I believe what I believe? Why do I think that this might cause happiness for me? What have people told me about what depression might be?" And just kind of looking at the basics surrounding these things that we're trying to achieve. The tagline of my show is "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of something that feels better than this," because it seems like we're constantly dissatisfied with where we're at, whether it be a relationship that we're in, the car we've got, the house we live in. There's always something that's bothering us. Which is fine. I think that that's actually a good thing. It keeps us in our critical thinking skills. People need to be able to critically think about their emotions and what happiness means to them.
It's going to be completely different for me than it is for you. It's not my job or place to tell you what is going to bring you happiness. I want people walking away wondering what it is that is happiness for them, and what kind of happiness they even want in their lives. Do we need to be happy all the time? Those people scare me. You know, people who are constantly bright and shiny and they're like "Oh, hi! Everything's great!" And it's like, really? All the time? I really feel that theater is a way of bringing social change into people's lives in a way that can also be entertaining. That's what I'm trying to do on a small level is bring some questioning of our reality and who we are and what we believe and what we think into the fold in a way that's really fun and hysterical and can make people really enjoy themselves while they're watching.
Is there anything else you want people to know about the show?
They should come [laughs]. People really enjoy the shows and it's a great night out and people should support theater. People don't get enough theater in their lives. You can watch your Netflix the next night [laughs]. That's all I have to say.