Spoleto 2015 » Comedy

Jenn Dodd knows how funny sadness can be

Sad Sack

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When it comes to life's disappointments, you can either cry or laugh. Comedian Jenn Dodd invites you to bust a gut.

After graduating from theater school, Dodd began taking improv classes at the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theater in New York, where she fell in love with writing and performing sketches. She then traveled with a sketch group for a bit before discovering her love for solo performance.

Melanchomedy is the second solo show that Dodd has traveled with, and she's already performed it at Solocom Festival in New York City, as well as the Dallas Fringe Festival. Dodd is constantly tweaking and tightening the show, but the basic outline remains the same: Melanchomedy is a collection of scenes that are narrated — via a pre-recorded tape — by Tony Hendra, a comedian known for his role as the band manager in the film This is Spinal Tap and as a writer for the magazine The National Lampoon. The scenes give the audience a glimpse into the lives of eight different sad characters, all played by Dodd. "In my work, I tend to favor the outcasts, the losers, and the weirdos," Dodd says. "Over the course of a year, I found I had written several characters which all shared a common theme: sadness and the struggle to push forward in spite of it."

She feels that the struggles of sad people have some real comedic potential. "First of all, I think it's human nature to laugh at someone else's struggle, but we also laugh when we can relate to a shared experience. Sadness is universal."

Dodd is counting on this universality to give the audience a connection to her characters. "We've all dealt with loss, breakups, insecurity, self-doubt, and various dark times. I think that by exposing that and making light of these experiences on stage, it's cathartic for everyone," Dodd says. "With this show, I really wanted to say 'No one is happy! Let's laugh about it!'"

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