Film in which Jo Brand gets to the bottom of crying: why we do it, whether we have always done it and, as a reluctant weeper, whether she can make a handkerchief soggy.
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-Being in the Revelation family,
being able to look to someone for support,
it's just so refreshing to know that you're not on your own.
I'm so proud of the choir. Every time they've been...
# Somewhere over the rainbow
# Skies are blue... #
..is Matt. Congratulations.
Have you noticed how these days TV seems to be a vale of tears?
Everywhere you look, someone's crying! Reality shows, talent shows...
On the news, even, Fiona Bruce looks like she's going to go any minute.
If I have to watch one more little muppet squeezing out a tear
on Britain's Got Talent
or see someone crying on "Who Do You Think You Are?"
because they've just their great- great-grandma worked in a factory,
I'm going to turn into my mum and say,
"Now I'll give you something to really cry about."
You might be wondering why I'm fascinated with crying.
Well, it's something I don't do very often, like cleaning the oven.
And if I'm honest, I don't find it easy.
I've no idea why, so I'm off to explore weeping behaviour
and see if there's any way I can ever make a hankie soggy.
Along the way, I'll be talking to some friends who may be more sensitive than I am.
We'll come eye to eye with tear experts
and, in pursuit of my own tears, I'm going to jump in with both feet
and meet some of the world's most bizarre cry-babies.
# Don't want no more of the crying game
# I don't want no more of the crying game... #
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I am indeed Jo Brand.
More glamorous than you were expecting, I'm sure.
I've been trying to make people laugh for over 20 years,
and at times it's been a bit like swimming through custard.
But people seem to be increasingly entertained by crying.
I'm not entertained by crying, particularly if it's in public.
If I cry, it's about something serious like a death
or the closure of my off-licence,
and I do it in the privacy of my bedroom.
Am I on my own? I mean, what sort of things is everyone crying about?
Do you cry?
-All of you?
-Yes. Quite often.
-Do you cry?
What sort of thing do you cry about? Films? Relationships?
-Oh, do you? Right, fair enough.
-Do you cry at films, at books?
-Yeah, Bridget Jones's Diary.
-Particularly music. Family.
-When me dog's died.
-Right. Well, fair enough.
-When my parents died.
-Could be a love triangle, could be missing somebody.
-You've been in a love triangle?
-I'm not saying.
Seems like everyone's at it.
I feel so alone in my tearless world I could cry.
Even the web's awash with tears. I've Googled "crying",
and it's opened up a whole wet world of weirdness.
I've found a website here called Crying While Eating.
There's evidently a fascination with watching people crying.
I mean, there's over 100 entries here.
So, Daniel is eating a bagel with hummus
and he's crying about inconsistent weather.
Who else have we got?
This is Fern, who's eating what looks like spaghetti.
That is worse than drama-school students. Now he's stopped eating,
so that's not even crying whilst eating, that's just crying.
Fern, that was pathetic.
Right, this is Bernhard from Germany.
He's eating yoghurt. Well, fair do's - cry, then.
And he's apparently crying because he's got to give his Macbook back.
I don't feel like crying, but I feel slightly disturbed by it. Can you hear him?
I don't cry while I'm eating. I cry when I've finished.
This lot seem happy to flaunt it in public. They need a smack.
But a gentle one that doesn't make them cry, obviously.
It's impossible to say when this started,
but most of us will remember an event when the entire nation dissolved into tears.
No, I don't mean It's A Royal Knockout.
In 1997, we all seemed to burst into tears at the death of Diana.
What was that about? Did we think she was our mate?
Were we all depressed and wanted to let it out?
Or do we all just like a good cry?
From that point, public crying seems to have got completely out of hand.
I mean, take talent shows, for example.
In the '70s, the losers would just grin and bear it,
and even the winners barely cracked a smile.
But look at things these days,
politicians grabbing their hankies - and they're famed for grimness.
# Weep no more, my baby Weep no more... #
Who could forget the shock of the Iron Lady demonstrating
she wasn't a zombie and having a tearful meltdown?
Now even Peter Mandelson, the so-called Prince of Darkness, is at it.
His tears are probably more like battery acid.
There's no doubt crying is out there.
Historian Thomas Dixon is researching a history of tears,
and I'm going to see if he can shed some light on this weepy phenomenon.
# I'm going to cry no tears... #
Thomas, my feeling is that crying in the last 10, 15 years
has amplified massively in society.
Is it a fairly recent phenomenon
or have people had to go through all this before?
I think we're currently in the middle or maybe near the beginning
of a new wave of weeping in public life.
We've had all sorts of examples, notably starting in the 1990s.
Maggie Thatcher when she left Downing Street had a tear in her eye,
feeling sorry for herself as she left.
In the same year Gazza bawled his eyes out at the World Cup
and then everybody cried when Princess Diana died.
I think the 1990s is the beginning of a new wave of weeping.
-And we may still have much more to come.
But actually, we've been a pretty weepy country
until the 20th century.
I think the 20th century was unusually dry in terms of tears.
There was stoicism and reserve.
But before the 20th century,
we have another peak, I think, of sentiment, emotion and weeping
in the late 18th and up to the mid-19th century.
There's weeping judges, politicians, obviously actors and actresses...
There's been more crying than you might think.
So there was much more weeping in the Victorian era than I presumed,
but surely something like the funeral of Princess Diana
wasn't bettered by the Victorians?
Even in the 19th century, there were large outpourings of national grief
in response to the deaths of famous figures,
and so there are comparable events, and perhaps most notably
the death of Admiral Lord Nelson in 1805.
He's won the Battle of Trafalgar against the French and Spanish navies
-but died in doing so.
-Was there a big funeral?
-A huge state funeral.
There are many pieces of journalism reporting the event in the national press,
and a lot of them talk about "tears gushing from every eye"
and "the nation's tears, Britannia's tears at the falling of her hero,
and poems about Nelson and so on.
Obviously, Dickens has a lot of very tear-inducing scenes, doesn't he?
Probably the peak of Victorian sentimentality, with his death scenes.
The most famous is Little Nell in The Old Curiosity Shop,
and I have a 19th-century edition of that here.
And so we can see
a picture entitled At Rest, and there she is, Little Nell, dead.
A whole nation mourned.
-Dickens was incredibly widely read, in Britain and also America.
And there's this story of a steamer arriving in New York
carrying the latest instalment of The Old Curiosity Shop
and people on the quayside shouting, "What happens to Little Nell?"
As people on board shouted back, "She dies,"
apparently there were people sobbing on the quayside
to hear that Little Nell was no more.
I would be sobbing cos they'd ruined the story.
That's such a terrible thing to do.
But I suppose if they were shouting up and asking, yeah.
But what confuses me is we Brits are renowned for our stiff upper lip.
Where did that come from?
I think that came from the Second World War.
I think in the 20th century is when the tears start to dry up.
A time of war is no time for weeping,
whether you're on the home front or fighting the war against Hitler
around the world.
However much private grief one may have,
this ethos emerges that British people don't cry,
because they are strong and they are determined, resilient and stoical.
It struck me, as Thomas was talking, that the War
was the time when my mother was in her formative years.
Maybe this played a part in my upbringing
and left me reluctant to turn on the waterworks.
Time for a bit of domestic psychology.
-So, was I a bit of a crier as a child?
-No. No, no, definitely not.
They were only times at which it was important for you to have your own way.
-And you had such a powerful voice when you were a little girl.
-The rule was we didn't go in for crying.
-It wasn't part of family practice.
-So there was a moratorium on crying?
There was. If you hurt yourself, that was different.
But even so, there was a limit to how long you could cry.
You've got a picture that I want to look at,
-because it looks like butter wouldn't melt.
-Is it there?
I know I look like a very good girl in that picture. Look at that!
Well, that's exactly how you were.
You were a dear little girl. A real sweetie. You were so kind.
You weren't rotten in any way at all.
-That's going to ruin my image, Mum.
That's all right!
-Look at us, lovely, happy, smiley. Gaze of steel.
-I think I look nice.
You do look nice, but you can just see that steeliness behind it.
-That is true. For me, crying is a mechanism for control.
And I think with children, especially in public places, if they cry,
their parents are confounded, they don't know quite how to handle it,
and the child gains the control. I think I knew that. I KNOW I knew it.
So when I had children, I wasn't going to fall for it.
So now I know what I am.
I'm a repressed control freak!
Not only did my mum clearly discourage us from crying,
but I also had two brothers who treated me like a punch bag.
It would be too girlie to cry,
so I threw away my embroidered hankie and punched them back.
# I keep singing them sad, sad, songs... #
So did my generation,
brought up in the post-war wasteland of emotional austerity,
grow up with the same inhibitions around crying as me?
I'm meeting my friends Sam and Sally to find out
if they're emotional pygmies too.
Is there such a thing as a good cry,
and does that make you feel better?
If you've got stress and you have a cry and you're with somebody
and you talk to them about it, you do feel better.
Are you aware of feeling anything in particular when you cry,
-anything physically or...?
-No, just the feeling of "Oh, here we go."
You then get all sweaty and hot and your eyes go and you feel like that.
Cos there's too much pretty crying on television, where one tear falls.
There's no snot, no red face, blotchy...
I once had to pick up my son, and I'd been crying.
I thought, "I can't go to get him out of pre-school."
So I changed into my jogging gear, drove the car round,
got out an empty buggy, ran round,
said, "Oh, I felt like jogging here this morning,"
cos I was in such a state, put him back in the buggy.
We drove back and I sobbed my heart out for the rest of the day.
And someone's crying, so that's very handy.
So, do you cry at home?
-Erm... Yes, I suppose I do occasionally but not often at all.
-And not in front of the girls?
No, I don't in front of the kids because I think it's quite a scary sight, me crying.
So, just in front of Bernie.
No, I think even then, I quite prefer to go up to me bedroom, neck a bottle of vodka,
punch the telly out, and have a good cry, and then the next person that comes into the room gets punched,
unless it's the children. Obviously, I don't want social services on the phone.
Well, our chat confirms two things,
I can't just blame post war Britain for at my lack of crying.
My friends are much more emotional than me, and that's natural to them.
It seems, I really am unusual in my lack of squirty eyes after all.
It feels like it's time now for a little bit of academic input.
So, I'm going to go and have a chat with Virginia Eto,
who's a psychologist, who specialises in crying.
Virginia, we seem to cry for lots of different reasons - when we're angry,
when we're sad, when we're frustrated. Why is it we actually cry? What are we doing it for?
Well, from an evolutionary perspective, when infants cry, that is to do with survival,
so infants cry because they're hungry, because they're in pain
and because they want to be picked up, they want to be cared for. It's about forming a bond.
So, infants form a bond with their care-givers, but as adults,
we use crying sometimes to form an attachment bond with those that we love.
And, you could argue that at the heart of whether it's signalling distress
-or it's about getting support and comfort, is we are communicating something.
And I think, although the list is endless,
the main situations we tend to cry in
is if we're in conflict with somebody, over loss, but also, if we observe
suffering, and that particularly seems to be the case with women.
So, in my own research, women site TV news reports,
soap operas and sad movies, all situations and contexts that illicit crying.
Do you think men feel the need to control themselves more?
I'm thinking particularly the way boys are brought up - be a brave boy, don't cry,
it's not manly, and all the rest of it?
Well, not wanting to do men a disservice,
that's definitely a factor you would have to consider.
That's the difference between us, I do want to do them a disservice!
So you're obviously the cool academic in this situation,
which is what we need! So, you think occasionally, they might do.
Yes, just as some women might. I think it is the context.
When you ask women and men why they cry,
they tend to give similar reasons.
But, both women and men report that they would rather cry
-in front of another woman.
-Than in front of a man. Yes.
-Aww. Because we're nice, really.
-Well, it's partly because women say they feel empathy and helpless in the
-face of someone crying and men say they feel confused, awkward and irritated.
-That's a great one, isn't it?
-Yeah, I know.
So, men and women cry differently. That's no surprise to me. Even though it's
the first thing we do when we're born.
In fact, as toddlers, boys cry more than girls.
But then, at around nine, we start to go our separate crying ways.
Sadly, for my generation, little girls were expected to cry.
Whereas boys were encouraged to become as emotional as planks.
I've always thought the fear of being called
a cry-baby as a boy has left many men unable to express
themselves with any degree of emotional literacy.
But is that finally beginning to change?
Maybe after a bottle of wine and a broken relationship,
then maybe a few tears, do you know what I mean?
Men seem to be quite shy about crying, don't they?
I think so, yeah.
It's not something normal that you see, boys crying all the time. It's usually a girl thing.
I've cried in front of lots of people. Not felt ashamed, no.
Perfectly normal, perfectly natural, perfectly human.
I'm going to ask my friend and fellow comedian Phil Jupitus for a male perspective on crying.
Phil, are you a crier?
Yeah, yeah, quite a major weeper throughout my life, really.
What do you think about the wider population of men?
Do you think they're comfortable or do you think there is still a sort of reluctance or embarrassment?
I still think for a large proportion of men, it is a sign of weakness.
And particularly amongst their peer group.
They don't want to be seen within that group as a weak link.
As someone that cries. Not being funny, but I just think that there's this working-class perception
that you're allowed cry once in your life,
and that's your mum's funeral. Or your dad's funeral. Parents' funerals.
Then that's it. You're done. If you're weeping, you've given up.
I think that is the central thing.
I think that's what's great about crying as well, is that you have let go.
It's a release, an abandonment.
And that is what is so satisfying about it, that you just do.
You just, there is a...open the floodgates, here it comes. Wham!
And that's why it's so much fun.
There's nothing beats a really good cry.
I feel I could learn from you.
I can't help thinking that Phil's enjoyment of letting go is unusual.
The only time I've ever seen men cry is at the football.
And there was that one I tied up once!
But high emotion is not only confined to the fans.
In the 1990 World Cup, there was another iconic crying moment.
Paul Gascoigne regressed back to the age of four when he couldn't find his Smarties.
I mean, realised he couldn't play in the next match.
Well, I'm here at Crystal Palace to see what the increased
public crying effect has had here. There's certainly a lot more emotion on the pitch
than there used to be. In the old days, if you scored a goal,
it was a quick handshake and the ghost of a smile.
These days, it's like a West End production.
I'm actually a Crystal Palace fan myself, so obviously I've had plenty to cry about over the years.
Do you cry about football?
Erm...I might today.
Crystal Palace, always.
-Do you? Do you cry openly or do you wait until you get home?
-Do you cry at films or...?
-No, not really, no.
-You're a proper man.
-Yeah. But football is different.
-Yes, it is, so I understand. Do you ever cry at football?
-I've been with the Palace so long, I get all sorts.
Thank you very much.
This is a game that could see Palace well on the way to being relegated.
As usual, it's emotionally unpredictable.
One minute wild optimism, the next, sheer despair.
It is like PMT concertinaed into 90 minutes.
I reckon men feel more comfortable crying when they are amongst their own tribe.
Maybe the macho nature of the game makes crying more acceptable.
This time, with a 1-1 draw, there's thankfully no need for tears.
So far on my crying Odyssey, I've looked at why and when British men and women cry.
But interestingly, people around the world cry differently.
Russian men and women cry equally. And the Irish cry more than anyone else.
But that may be because they've got rain on their faces.
I think it's quite important to get a cultural perspective,
so I'm going to talk to my mate Shappi Khorsandi, who was born
in Iran and has written a book called A Beginner's Guide To Acting English.
-I guess Iranians aren't shy about crying.
-They don't feel embarrassed about it.
They don't feel embarrassed and people are much more open about it. When we cry, we really cry.
It's almost less taboo to go all-out weeping and wailing than to have like a gentle little tear.
-Yes, you don't do Victorian dabbing a hankie.
It's full on crying. And I remember when my grandfather died, my aunt telling me
that at the funeral, women in the street were poking her to cry harder,
-because it looked like she didn't...
-..because it looks like you don't love your dad.
So the more you cry, the more affection you felt for the person that died, and if you
collapse on a heap on the coffin, that means you were very close.
My mum told me some people in the neighbourhood,
-for a few pennies, would come and be professional mourners.
-To up the whole level of weeping?
Up the whole level, yes. Up the whole level of weeping, add a bit of atmosphere to it
and a bit of theatre to it, because then you have
the professional mourners and they break the crying ice, and then everyone else...
I don't know why I'm laughing, sorry.
..can cry to their heart's content. And the British stiff upper lip really fascinates me,
because that's when I feel that I'm from a different background,
because I don't know what the etiquette is with grief.
Because normally, amongst Iranian people,
even if you don't tell someone very well, even if they're a casual acquaintance,
if a loved one of theirs dies,
you cook halva, which is a very sweet dish,
and you take halva to their house, and you say,
"May this be your final sorrow," and when relative strangers call you up
or come to your door to offer you their condolences, it's a real comfort.
Whereas you would not go round to an English person's house that
you just met a couple of times going,
"I heard your nana died, here's a Cornish pasty," or whatever!
In Fiji, funerals guests are not allowed to cry
until the body is buried. I suppose that's get bit like our custom of not getting
stuck into the buffet until after the funeral. But here,
we can cry at any time we like over the loss of a loved one.
Priests must have to come face-to-face with this
outpouring of emotion on a day-to-day basis.
I'm going to pop into St George's to see how my friend Father Ray deals with this.
I sometimes practise the organ here,
so while I'm waiting, I'll have a little tinkle and play the theme from Love Story - Romantic Tosh.
Still, it might wind up Father Ray.
-Oh, hello, Ray.
-Sorry I'm playing.
-No, no, that was a really sad film,
it reminds me of seeing that film years ago.
Very, very sad, but you're sounding good. Yah.
-Well, thank you, but it hasn't made me cry.
-No. You trying to make yourself cry?
-I am a bit.
-Do you feel like a weep? Need a weep.
-Well, apparently, weeping as quite a good thing to do.
-I think it is.
I thought you were a good person to talk to
because you're on the receiving end of quite a lot of weeping.
A lot of the time, as priests, we share people's times of joy
and sadness, and sometimes, within an hour,
sort of thing, from different people.
But yes, I think part of our role, certainly in this culture
is to contain people's tears, people's sadness, and give
people a quiet place, a calm place n which they can express...
-So to sort of allow people to cry, really.
-And I think there is something in, you can develop
an approach of permission, really, people just sense that they
can weep with you and so, almost unconsciously, something is freed.
Does the Church give you some sort of pragmatic advice about how
to deal with people who are very distressed or crying?
It doesn't, actually.
I think what I picked up within the culture I trained in
was that we were expected to be a solid rock that held everything together.
And somebody said to me recently, they came from a funeral,
and they said, "Well it was all right,
-"but the vicar got upset and I don't think that's on."
So somebody was offended.
And I think that comes from that need that people have of us,
-that whatever happens around us, we're going to hold things together.
-I'm not much of a crier
and I have a bit of an abhorrence of crying in public.
I find it really embarrassing. Should I be crying more?
I think if you're aware of a build-up of some
emotion that you can't express, or if there is something
there that is preventing you from crying in a way that you need to,
then I think, yes, that is something we need to work on.
But I do think there is a risk in our culture of manufacturing
tears and assuming that something that is, you know, right on.
And that we are in touch with their feelings, etc.
So there is a certain type of crying that is good for you, I think.
And if it is going to lead you to feel shameful because you had
broken down in Sainsbury's, then maybe you need to do it elsewhere.
Yes, I think you're right.
-Keep your weeping to yourself, sort of thing.
-Maybe in Morrisons!
So, Father Ray thinks I should have a good cry, but where?
Well, obviously, the most comfortable place to cry is in the cinema.
Do you think that there's such a thing as, like,
going to see a weepy film to have a good cry, and does it help?
Yeah, it does. I went through a phase of watching Armageddon
-just so I would cry.
-No, Mel Gibson.
-And he lost his wife.
No, no, no. Erm, something Young. Er...
Hugh and Andie MacDowell, they're so good together. No, not that film!
-I've only ever cried once at the cinema.
-What was that at?
-Probably something like Schindler's List, some big tragedy.
Naturally, it's good acting that elicits tears in the cinema.
I'm going to see Richard E Grant, who had us all weeping
into our popcorn in Jack & Sarah - except me, of course.
Right up the front, please.
Richard, are you a crier?
-Yeah, big blubber.
What at? What sort of things?
Yeah. If people do a standing ovation in something,
-I'll start crying.
-Not just for you?
No, no! Never done one for me!
Yeah, that makes me cry.
Intense happiness makes me cry, movies, my daughter.
Anything to do with children on the news and I'm a goner.
And I know you don't cry at all.
-No, I don't.
-Because you're a cold-hearted...
That's true. Do you think...
So I'm incontinent and you're constipated, emotionally?
Yes, that's right. So we both need...
-Because I blub and you can't.
Somewhere in the middle, we meet to make a perfectly-rounded person.
Do you think going to the pictures to see a weepy film
is a positive thing for people in a sort of cathartic way?
Oh, yeah, hugely.
I remember in ET and Gandhi, those two movies that came out in 1983,
these two funny-looking guys,
and people blubbed openly in those movies.
You could hear them doing all that,
-because there are so many goodbyes in the story, built in.
Do you think being able to cry easily as a person
helps you to cry more easily as an actor when it's called for?
Yeah, I can cry very, very quickly.
-Do you want to... Can you cry now?
-Go on, then.
That was... That was quick.
-That was about 20 seconds.
I hope you weren't thinking about me!
No, it's just... You either... You just can or you can't.
Do you use it?
If I'm required to in the part?
Say you got arrested for bad driving.
Would I burst into tears?
Would you have a crack at it?
I hadn't thought of that, but I will do, yeah.
But it is it purely a physical thing that you do,
or do you have an emotional picture in your head of something?
Yeah, just go straight to something that's sad.
Do you always pick the same one or do you pick different ones?
-Any old one will do?
-Any old one will do, yeah.
-I'm really interested in that.
-I've had such a tragic life that, I can draw on anything.
-Have you? Yes!
Well, I was very impressed by Richard's ability to cry.
What a useful weapon to have in your arsenal,
particularly at moments of threat.
Some years ago, I was hitchhiking, foolishly,
got picked up by a squaddie and driven down a dark lane.
I actually feared for my life.
I decided to go on the offensive and I shouted,
"What is it you're going to do now?" And weirdly, he started crying.
A friend of mine said to me afterwards, "Had he just put his glasses on?" Charming(!)
It seems like everyone else can turn on the tears apart from me.
But do I really need to? Is it actually good for us?
Well, I've found a tear clinic in America
and I'm going to talk to crying guru and biochemist Bill Frey.
Am I going to America? Pfft! What do you think?
Hi, Jo, it's nice to meet you.
How are you doing?
I'm doing great.
That's it. I've made you bigger.
You're much better.
Can I start by asking you,
what is the reason, in an evolutionary sense, that humans cry?
Why did they develop that ability?
Well, first of all, we do know that humans are the only animals that have
evolved this ability to shed tears in response to emotional stress,
and I think the reason this evolved is that
unalleviated emotional stress or chronic stress
is actually quite damaging to the body.
It causes the release of hormones,
and these hormones actually can damage brain cells in your brain,
so when you cry, this is a method that humans have evolved
to alleviate emotional stress.
So you're saying that, if you don't cry very much, like I don't,
you're in trouble?
Now, you're a comedian,
so laughter is, in fact, another mechanism of alleviating stress.
What about smoking a lot?
Not a good idea. THEY LAUGH
OK, fair enough.
So we're sort of saying, then - well, you're saying,
crying is very important for your psychological
and physical health, really?
It is. We know that 85% of women, 73% of men, say they feel better after crying,
and crying is an excretory process,
something coming out of the body, and if you think about it,
we exhale to get rid of carbon dioxide,
we urinate to get rid of waste products.
Crying, in fact, I think, is probably something similar,
only more involved in alleviating stress.
That's quite an uncomfortable image, though, isn't it,
-urinating out of your eyes?
But if it's doing the job, I suppose it's doing the job.
So if you're someone like me that doesn't cry terribly often,
if hardly ever, would you advise me to just cry a bit more?
Yeah, I would advise you to cry a bit more.
But you can't really make yourself cry.
You more have to give yourself permission to sort of wallow in,
a little bit, what it is that's upsetting to you,
and once you're really upset, you'll cry.
It just happens almost automatically.
Well, I quite fancy having a wallow in misery.
I mean, I'd just probably have a talk with my husband. That'd do it.
That would probably do it, yes.
Listen, it's an absolute pleasure to talk to you. Thank you so much.
You've really added to my knowledge because I had no idea that crying
could be such a positive thing.
Thank you. Good to speak with you, Jo.
You're a genius.
Well, that was a bit of a revelation. Crying is good for you.
It is definitive. But I am just not a crier.
Bill has told me I'm not crying enough and I need to take it seriously.
I need to find out what are the things and where are the places that make us cry.
The bottom line is, I need to learn to do it a bit more.
First, I need to know if the old tear ducts are in good working order.
I'm off to see Dr Jimmy Uddin at Moorfields Eye Hospital.
Jimmy, let's say that something external makes me cry, like a horrible heckler.
I hear that, the message goes into my brain, and my brain says, "Oh dear, you poor thing,
"you'd better have a bit of a cry about that because he was so horrible."
What you have, you have pathways from places such as the hypothalamus,
basal ganglia, frontal cortex, these are complex parts of the brain
where you have the emotional response.
-It is quite complicated, isn't it?
-You have a series of nerve pathways, that run to the tear gland,
the lacrimal gland, and the tear gland produces the tears.
It's time to give my lacrimal gland an MOT.
What we will try to do is examine your actual tear film, and try to see any actual tear production.
Sorry, it's a bit uncomfortable. That's OK.
Under the upper lid is where the tear gland drains.
The tear glands sits up here and drains into these special ducts
that sit under the lid here.
And if we are lucky, we may be able to demonstrate that.
-Are you going to poke me in the eye?
-OK, if you'd like to sit back.
-I notice you didn't answer that!
If we can try and have a look and see any tears being produced.
If you look down, please. Look down and to your left.
That is the tear gland itself,
which is a nice shot.
Look down, please. I am going to put in this stain.
Those streams are streams of tears coming through it.
It is like a little river running through,
or the opposite way round, when you get dye going into a big pool.
It's sort of the opposite, it dilutes it out and you see this.
We can see it.
What we have demonstrated is your actual tear production from this lacrimal gland producing real tears,
those are the tears that come out of the tear gland, the actual tears.
-So I can cry?
-Yes, you can.
-Oh, jolly good.
That is good news, to know that, physically, I am able to cry,
so all I need now is some bad news to see if I can let it all out.
I am going to meet Jeremy Stockwell, who is a drama coach at RADA.
If anyone can make me cry, surely it has got to be him.
Hello, thank you for coming.
Walk around the room, walk around the room, walk around the room, walk around the room.
Try jogging around the room, folks, jogging!
Any which way, don't jog in a circle!
Any which way! When I clap my hands, stop. HE CLAPS
When I clap my hands, I want you to face a new direction. HE CLAPS
When I clap my hands, go off in that new direction, off you go. HE CLAPS
There'll be three claps. The first is stop, turn, go!
Keep going, ladies and gentlemen!
It's certainly going to make me cry if I have to do much more of this.
Stop, turn, go, stop, turn, go. Stop, turn, aaaah!
I haven't said go. So we get into the habit, the habit of acting.
The habit of producing emotions, whether that is crying or laughing,
the habit of saying, "I always do this scene this way."
It is very easy for us to get into the habit.
You couldn't go on to stage and really commit to the moment of now if you're stuck in that habit.
Does that make sense to you?
Acting is you.
As if whatever. As if you're tortured, upset, stressed, acting is you as if you're in love.
It is you, it is never not you.
Comedians can make fantastic actors.
-I've said this many times to Jo.
-I've never believed you.
She won't buy it, but it's true!
Comedians can make very good actors because they are aware of that ocean of emotion, that connection.
We are connecting, we are riding, we are surfing that.
It's an old reference, but if you look at Laurence Olivier in The Entertainer, good though he was,
he wasn't really connecting with that audience there, he was acting that connection.
I don't want criticise, but it's true.
Go on. He was rubbish!
Sure. Or perhaps now, he looks rather over-the-top.
But if you look at someone like Billy Connolly, someone like Les Dawson, if you look at someone like Max Hall,
these are comedians of my youth, and they were fantastic actors, and they were fantastic actors
because they were aware of that connection, that inter-connectivity here.
If you can make people laugh,
a flipside is, you can certainly make them cry.
You certainly can make them cry.
Choose with no words, arms by your sides, out of pockets.
Choose at this moment to look into the eyes of your partner and choose now to love them.
This is what we've been waiting for.
You can choose to love this person right now.
Have a thought for this poor woman they've chosen to stare at me.
She wants to take it all seriously and she's got me to deal with.
I am more embarrassed than when I wet myself in assembly aged five.
Turn it up a little bit more.
And now, turn.
Another aspect of yourself.
And choose it this time to have utter and total and absolute compassion for this person.
And let that build.
So that in your heart, there is warm feeling,
which will grow and grow, and there is a sadness about that.
And you can turn that up.
There is a human being in this form in front of you
that ultimately will pass...
..as the only constant truth in our universe is change.
All things shall pass.
And as sombre
and as tragic as this may be...
..it is also quite beautiful.
Thank you very much.
'I'm a bit rubbish at acting. It was impossible to let myself go.
'Somehow, I don't think the RSC are going to be battering my door down with a Lady Macbeth request.'
I'm going to have to find another way to release my inner weeper.
A lot of people are moved to tears by certain songs.
# Sunday is gloomy
# My hours are slumberless
# Dearest, the shadows I live with are numberless... #
That is Gloomy Sunday, a traditional folk song sung by Elvis Costello.
The perfect combination for me. I love him.
I remember that song being played a lot by my parents when I was a child,
sung by Paul Robeson.
Interestingly, when that song was originally written and played
in Hungary in the 1930s,
it was banned because legend has it that quite a lot of people committed suicide after they'd heard it.
So if I am ever going to cry, that will probably be the song I'll cry to.
But obviously I'm not crying now.
Music can sometimes do it for me.
JLS's last single REALLY made me want to weep.
I need to think of something more extreme,
so it's back to the Internet.
Apparently, they have crying clubs in Japan.
Sounds a bit weird, doesn't it?
Surely there's nothing like that in this country.
Oh, but there is.
I've just found Loss Club, where they dress up and cry.
Sounds suitably bonkers to me. I'm there!
Over in east London is the little-known, morosely-named Loss Club.
Modelled on the onion seller in Gunter Grass's novel The Tin Drum, the aim of the night
is to get everyone weeping bitterly into their gin glasses.
-Are you passing the gin?
-Why do I feel I'm going to piss myself laughing?
Would you like to sit down?
-I'd love to, yeah.
-She's smiling! No smiling here!
-I've only got four quid on me.
Is that four smiles?
That's my first one. That'll teach me.
No-one's ever smiled before.
-That's a really sad case.
Are you all unhappy?
Can you be ever happy?
-Well, I manage it.
-Are you sure?
I don't know, are you going to try and talk me out of it?
-I think so.
-I think you need a real good cry.
You've got a great face.
-Do you like crying?
So what brings you here tonight?
-Like some onions?
-Three for me.
-Three for Mr Carter.
-You've got a big sack of onions! Sorry.
Oh, that is more!
Do you take credit cards? No? OK. There's my last pound.
You won't be smiling soon. BANGING
What is it about crying that is so satisfying?
-It's like a drug.
-Oh, is it?
You have heard of wedding crashers.
-You are funeral crashers, are you?
-I am, yeah.
-Do you go to funerals of people you don't know?
You might go to a funeral of someone you've never met before?
-When was the last time you cried?
-When was the last time I cried?
Absolutely ages ago.
I've hardened my heart, so I would say I'm probably quite an emotionally-blunted person now.
Chop the onions!
Let the onion juice flow.
Chop the onions, chop the onions, chop the onions.
A little bit of onion juice in your eyes will make you cry.
Thank you so much, and I'll smell nice as well.
A little bit of onion juice in your eye, madam, that will make you cry.
I'm being forced to cry now, and I feel that somehow my civil liberties
have been in some way... Pardon?
-Violated! Yes, good word.
Chop, chop, nobody is leaving until every single onion is chopped.
Well, that was a very strange experience indeed.
I don't really know what it was about, whether they are art students having a laugh
or they are all seriously disturbed, and I know I kind of looked like I was crying, but I wasn't.
That's just water coming out of my eyes because some bloke in a frock coat had assaulted me with an onion.
So I didn't cry, all right? Peh!
This crying game is getting exhausting.
What haven't I tried?
I've been poked in the eye, given acting a go, music,
weird onion torture, but none of them have worked.
It isn't an issue for most people, but it clearly is for me.
It's time to confront my stubborn subconscious.
Many people seek help from psychotherapists to try and unlock long-standing emotional problems.
There seems to be a supposition that crying is in some way cathartic.
I've actually been invited by psychotherapist Susie Orbach
to have a session.
Last time I met her, she wasn't terribly impressed with me,
because I said that I'd read her book, Fat Is A Feminist Issue,
got halfway through it and eaten it.
Susie, I was really interested to come and talk to you because it seems to me that,
particularly over the last ten to 20 years,
there has been a huge increase, on television particularly,
of people kind of letting everything out and crying their eyes out.
I find it really irritating, and I think that is because I,
as a person, think that grief is a thing you should do in private,
and I don't know, I have a feeling about it.
It's crocodile tears, it's done for effect and it's to try and make the viewing public
be more sympathetic towards the individual.
There is so much stuff in what you've just said.
Do you think it is easy to cry?
Personally, not that easy for me.
So why do think it is for other people?
Because I think they're sort of emotionally incontinent.
Let's take something like Who Do You Think You Are?
where people go back through their family ancestry.
It seems to me, it is almost essential for them to cry to make the programme, if you like.
So what offends you about that?
First of all, I feel it is false,
because I think,
if you find out that your great-great-great-great-grandfather
had a hard life, to me,
that is not an important enough thing to you as a person to cry about.
What is more important to me for someone to cry about
is something going on in their life...
So crying for you is a different kind of emotion than other emotions?
You want to reserve crying for something particular?
I suppose I do, yes.
And I also think that I feel quite strongly that crying isn't something
that you do for the entertainment of the television viewing population.
So on the one hand,
you distrust it, on the other hand,
Yes, I suppose I'm saying I don't actually know.
I can't tell if they're full of grief or not, but sometimes
they don't seem to be, it seems to be put on.
I think that is the thing about emotions, that maybe,
coming from it from where you do in your job,
which is to make us laugh...
I don't understand where that laugh comes from
-that you can produce in me.
-Yet it can come.
And I think it is the same with tears.
Let me put it this way.
Your professional life is about making sure we are not crying,
and there is quite a lot to cry about.
There is quite a lot to cry about.
And you don't like to cry yourself, and you don't find it easy to cry.
No, and I think what that is about in me
is that I defend myself against it by laughing
because I find that an easier way to frame the whole thing.
Like the fat thing.
I've had so much abuse through my life for being overweight.
As a psychiatric nurse, as a woman just walking down the street.
And you'll notice that a lot of people
that have some sort of physical, noticeable characteristic,
and again, it is a cliche,
but they defend themselves against it with humour.
They don't want to sit at home crying going,
"Everyone hates me because I'm fat."
I personally don't think that is a particularly important aspect of a person's personality.
But you must think it's important, because otherwise you wouldn't draw attention to it.
I wonder if there's something about the tears held within that?
-Do you think I'm really sad about being fat?
No, you might be really sad about... You might be really sad.
You're looking at me in quite a scary way now.
You're doing that therapist thing
of just looking and waiting for me to say something,
but I don't know what to say.
Maybe the worry is that, if I don't say anything, and we don't have this easy, fast talk,
that something else will come up about tears.
Given you have an interest in crying, the negative aspect of it,
I am thinking,
"Hmm. What is the fear or the upset
-"about crying for yourself?"
What is that piece of you that is undeveloped?
It is not that you need to change your persona, but it seems like
an emotional deprivation, to not have that emotional capacity.
Maybe deprivation is too strong a word. Maybe I would want to say it just seems like
there is a limitation there.
-In your relation to self, not your relation to the world.
Do you think there are some kind of negative effect if you're the sort of person that doesn't cry,
but you need to cry about things?
Is that having a bad effect?
I'd have to say yes.
If you need to cry and you are trembling instead,
or you're wringing your hands, or you're laughing.
I don't mean in the comedy sense,
but telling a sad story,
smiling and then apologising.
It's a form of alienation from yourself.
MUSIC: "The Tears Of A Clown" by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
Two weeks after my session with Susie Orbach, I decided to go into serious psychotherapy.
# Now if there's a smile on my face
# It's only there trying to fool the public
# But when it comes down to fooling you
# Now, honey that's quite a different subject... #
In your dreams, mate.
# Don't let my glad expression
# Give you the wrong impression
# Really I'm sad
# Oh, sadder than sad
# You're gone and I'm hurtin' so bad
# Like a clown, I pretend to be glad
# Sad, sad, sad
# Now there's some sad things known to man
# But ain't too much sadder than
# The tears of a clown
# When there's no-one around... #
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Jo Brand is outraged and appalled by the latest outburst of public crying. It is happening on X Factor, Who Do You Think You Are and even the politicans are at it. It would appear we are awash with tears. Jo is particularly baffled by this outpouring of weepiness as crying is something she rarely does.
In this documentary, Jo decides it's time to get to the bottom of crying: why we do it, who does it and whether we have always done it. And once she discovers crying is in fact good for you, she has no choice but to see if she can actually make a handkerchief soggy too.
To find out more about crying she talks to friends Phill Jupitus, Shappi Khorsandi and Richard E Grant; interviews crying historians, psychologists and biochemists; and, in her quest to discover her own tears, visits Moorfields Eye Hospital to check her tear ducts are in good working order. She subjects herself to joining a class of crying drama students, discovers the world's weirdest crybabies at the Loss Club and finally opens up to Princess Diana's psychotherapist, Susie Orbach.
Having unpicked the watery world of crying, can Jo bring herself to actually shed a tear?