Comedy Month - Q&A with Jack Rooke

February 23, 2015

Jack Rooke is a superb stand-up comedian, poet and radio presenter and has created work for The Independent and The Guardian, as well as editing Roundhouse Radio's flagship magazine show, RoundUp. Jack is also co-founder of the Save the Male showcase and currently has a comedy panel show in development with Channel 4.
We caught up with him for a quick Q&A to discuss everything from his favourite pub to how he started out in comedy.
How did you first get into comedy?
I fell into it. I was a poet for a while and I did the Poetry Collective for the Roundhouse and somehow realised all my poems were funnier than the rest of my serious, cutting edge poetry that I was performing. 
Where have you trained/practised your stand up?
I joined the Soho theatre comedy lab and worked there for a year with Jen Brister. She gave me a bit of confidence to go into comedy and start doing some gigs, so that’s what I did – I went to the Fringe last year as a comedian rather than a poet.
What would you recommend to those starting out or/interested in performing comedy or hosting?
I’d recommend that you do it yourself – DIY is the theme of now. Start doing it yourself. I host a stand-up poetry night called Bang Said the Gun which has been going since the 90s so it’s very successful, but before that I started up my own night called Save the Male which is for a charity I work for called Calm. It’s about using comedy to open up about Mental Health experiences. So I’d recommended you set it up yourself and then somebody will see you doing your thing and if they like it they might ask you to join them! It’s what happened with me and Bang.
Who are your key influences?
Comedy wise my faves are Bridget Christie (I think she’s the best), Kim Noble - he's very, very spectacularly interesting. I love Luisa Omielan - she’s great - and Chris Lilley from Summer Heights High - my long time comedy partner in spirit and soul. 
How would your skills translate to a corporate audience?
I am the host of the Amphitheatre comedy/poetry stage at Bestival, which is a more corporately orientated audience in that you’ve got such a wide group of people that you need to appeal to. You’ve got to be quite good at having material that people can connect with and is universally funny rather than quite niche. That’s been a great experience. My skills as a host are all about making people feel comfortable, making them feel like they’re in safe hands, just going with the pace of the night.You just roll with it and make comedy of the fact you’re stood up in front of a lot of strangers. 
Do you prefer hosting or doing your own stand up?
I like both  - better at hosting at the minute.
What have you been up to recently?  
Hosting Bang Said the Gun, Bestival and Camp Bestival. I’ve also been working on my debut show which is supported by The Roundhouse and Soho theatre called Good Grief. Hopefully going to the Fringe this year, so we’ll see where that goes. Who knows?! 
Can you name one up-and-coming comedy act you would recommend to me?
In Cahoots – sketch duo and Lead Pencil comedy trio. Both of them are great. 
What is your least favourite form of entertainment?
Which is your favourite Wetherspoons branch? 
Baker Street one – it used to be the old ticket hall! 
Jack can be found on Twitter and is currently crowdfunding his debut comedy show, Good Grief.

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By Henry Fosdike