Known for his acclaimed shows exploring grief, Rooke returns to the Fringe with a more upbeat and comedic show about love and the queer community
'The irony is that I wrote in the Fringe programme that I'm doing a show about shagging, but I've not had one successful shag!' Twenty-five-year old Watford-born comedian and mental-health activist Jack Rooke will be detailing his hellish track record with Grindr, including the time he tried to drink poppers in a club and another occasion his curly hair created a medical emergency for an unlucky lover.
Love Letters is a departure from previous years: his 2015 theatre debut Good Grief was co-written with his 85-year-old nan about the death of his dad, and 2017's Happy Hour was his reaction to a friend's suicide. Both received glowing reviews but by September 2017, Rooke needed a rest. 'I'd become this poster boy for mental health and people were DMing me saying they were considering suicide. After doing a show about horrible mental-health cuts, I found myself on the same waiting lists I'd been talking about.'
credit: Lewis Simpson This time Rooke has moved out of theatre and into the comedy section with a joyous, confessional show about love: the platonic, sexual and romantic sort. 'It still touches on serious points such as internalised homophobia or casual misogyny, but it's more upbeat, and about me exploring my sexuality and having fun.' A cis gay man, Rooke is quick to point out that his show is for everyone, straights included. 'I like the idea of queer stories becoming more normal. There are still big stigmas in certain areas. Even in the so-called liberal and progressive queer community there are issues. Going into a London gay bar and seeing a man give a frosty look to a lesbian or a trans woman: urgh, that's not a community. I'd rather spend six hours in a Wetherspoon's!'
Rooke is a busy man, with his first feature film, Best Behaviour, in development and a debut book, Cheer the Fuck Up, coming out next year; but he's excited to be returning to the Fringe. 'I was really ready to leave Edinburgh behind after my last show finished but I'm looking forward to coming back and doing it differently. I'll be cycling about, going for swims in Portobello, and maybe looking for friendship or love. Last time I went to a gay club in Edinburgh, I was clean shaven and dressed all in black, yet I was mistaken for a lesbian … another disaster that might end up in the show.'
Jack Rooke: Love Letters, Assembly George Square Gardens, 3–24 Aug (not 13), 7.30pm, £12–£14 (£11–£13). Previews 1 & 2 Aug, £8.
Berk's Nest and Daisy Dockrill in association with Curtis Brown Dear reader, you may know me from such tragedies as Dead Dad (Radio 4's Good Grief) and Dead Friend (BBC Three's Happy Man) but this year I'm dead chuffed to perform comedy about shagging blokes! No one dies and it's set to a beautiful live harp. Straight…