Dead Funny: Jack Rooke On His Show Inspired By Bereavement

Lettie Mckie
By Lettie Mckie Last edited 25 months ago
Dead Funny: Jack Rooke On His Show Inspired By Bereavement

A new comedy inspired by death? You've got to be joking? Actually Comedian Jack Rooke is deadly serious as he draws attention to bereavement this month in Good Grief at the Soho Theatre.  

Although an unlikely topic for a comedy show it is one painfully close to Rooke's heart, having lost his father to cancer at the age of 16. However, it's precisely the personal nature of his work that makes it stand out as he speaks emotionally and honestly about a subject many would rather steer well clear of. Having impressed crowds and critics alike at Edinburgh this summer, he's secured a well-deserved London transfer coming up in December.

Good Grief is "part documentary, part storytelling, part comedy" says Rooke, a precociously confident 20 something who has bagged himself a regular slot on Radio 1's The Surgery and previously co-hosted London's première spoken word poetry night Bang Said the Gun. Good Grief also stars the comedian's grandmother in a documentary style home video, where she talks openly about her own experiences of the grief she felt on losing her son.

"The show is about celebrating the people you have lost and not being afraid to talk about them," says Rooke. A lot of the comedy comes from observing how people react to the death of others' loved ones. He reminisces about the inappropriate ramblings of drunken friends who ignored him when sober because they couldn't face talking to him. He also fondly remembers his abuse of cards that allowed him to get out of maths lessons by pretending to be sad. Rooke's jokes allow us to see the humour in the awkwardness that surrounds death as well as the insensitivity that many bereaved people encounter among close friends and family.

Spectacularly, Rooke has also somehow managed to get hold of Hayley Cropper's multicoloured coffin from the set of Coronation Street. In the months after his dad's death, his escapism was to comfort eat so the coffin is stuffed full of sweets that audience members can add to as they take their seats. Later in the show Rooke also hands out generous complimentary portions of Soreen.

Underneath the tongue-in-cheek humour and free snacks, the serious point of Good Grief is to highlight the sense of isolation many bereaved people feel in an insensitive and uncaring world. Rooke says "I'm using the comedy to start a difficult conversation about the lack of support for bereaved people".

Good Grief runs 7-9 December at the Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street W1D 3NE, before a national tour in 2016.

Last Updated 29 November 2015