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Alternative / COMEDY / Clown

Jul 31, Aug 1-12, 14-25: TICKETS

JULY 5, 2024 

Trumpets: parp parp parp paaarp, Fringe favourite and Disney Prince heartthrob of Extraordinary (Disney+) descends from his ivory (Fairtrade) tower to glisten your eyes with this monument to creativity and fantasy. Take a swan-dive into this physical comedy fantasia of kings and clowns, and one absolutely hideous duck. When You Wish Upon A Star, this is the show you get, I'm afraid. Shortlisted: Comedian's Choice Award 2022.


Hi Luke, lovely to chat with you again, are you excited to be heading back to the Fringe?


I genuinely am. Last year, I just went for a week and did three work in progress shows. It was the perfect palette cleanser to make you forget your trauma and long to dive in again. 


What makes EdFringe so special?


It’s the Glastonbury of comedy. But if Glastonbury had the same line-up, every day, and the only accommodation available was the £10,000 glamping option. Everything else – the overpriced food trucks, the state of the toilets, the exhaustion – is the same. I didn’t get to go to Glastonbury this year so this is how I’m dealing with that. 


What is beautiful about the Fringe is being surrounded by your friends and peers, who are all presenting work that is the accumulation of so much time and thought and labour. It’s hugely inspiring. 


Being crowned one of the “10 Best TV Performances of 2023” from The Hollywood Reporter must have felt lovely, what did it mean to you to get such high praise?


It’s insane. It’s so insane it feels meaningless. And it is, ultimately, probably meaningless. But bloody hell. Rachel Weisz is on that list. She probably read my name and thought “who?” And then bought tickets to my Edinburgh show. 


Does this type of attention add any extra pressure on you?


Truly, not really. Never underestimate the ability of a Fringe audience to have absolutely no idea who you are. Even right after your show. 


Can you tell me a little bit about Luke Rollason, Let Down Your Hair, how did this show come about?


I definitely made this show unintentionally. I’ve accidentally written a kind of physical comedy version of Disney’s fantasia, built out of loo roll. No one would choose to do that. This show probably started because I balanced a loo roll on a head massager on my head and was like – wow. This is genius. This is my genius Rapunzel bit. And my next thought was: oh no, I’m making a Disney Princess show. A lesser comedian would resist this impulse. But no. Four solo shows in, and now I know – you don’t get to choose what you make. 


When writing a new show like Luke Rollason, Luke Rollason, Let Down Your Hair what triggers your imagination and how often do the things you see/hear or the people you meet find their way into your shows?


I really think what triggers my imagination most of all is objects. The more quotidian the better. It’s the stuff of life, which we all muck around with. It’s the eccentricity of the everyday. My favourite thing after a show is when people say “I’ll never look at a corkscrew / tape measure / loo roll etc the same way again.” It’s like a little trapdoor opens in the way you see the world. Or even better is when people say “yeah, that thing with the loo roll, I do that all the time.” Well guess what, suckers! I got paid to do it! 


Do you have any traditions or superstitions before heading out on stage and once a show is over how do you unwind?


The luxury! Imagine having the mental space or physical time for rituals! As I work mostly with props, even getting my show on stage requires a complex ritual of remembering where everything goes, unwinding toilet rolls to the “right” length (not a science) and filling my bumbag with peas. In a way, it is a ritual – it’s just definitely not superstition. What I’m doing makes no sense to anyone else, but if there aren’t peas in that bumbag, the audience will riot. 

"Dont fixate on what you want to be because you will never reach it that way anyway."

Have you always had a passion for comedy?


I was always in trouble when I did youth theatre for trying to make people laugh. I think my first true clown moment was on stage in a production of the Wiz. I was playing The Guard of the Emerald City, which had one line I think, and I wasn’t chuffed about it. I realised the only thing holding my trousers up was a popper, which led to my genius idea to put “The Guard of the Emerald City” in his rightful place as the centre of attention. That idea was: utter the immortal line “Welcome to the Emerald City!” and then drop trousers. I was twelve, I think. 


Years later, in 2020, I get this review from Bruce Dessau for performing in the final of Sketch Off: “It might be funny to perform in your pants and fall over but it’s hardly pushing the comedy envelope.” 


An artist repeats themselves to achieve mastery. 


What’s been your fondest memory of being on stage?

Dropping my trousers in a youth theatre production of the Wiz. 


If you could host a dinner party for 9 comedians, living or dead, who would you invite?


Can’t believe you put “living” in there. All my friends are comedians! You’re basically asking who I’d invite to my party! So, I think I’d have to exclude all living comedians, because every living comedian is my friend (on my poster: “friends with every living comedian!”) Except I’d like to invite one living comedian who doesn’t believe in ghosts to really mess up their worldview. 


And I’d invite Nola Rae – she’s a lovely mime and national treasure who was a teacher of mine and a huge inspiration to me. She gifted me a lot of her old costumes, which I think I have mostly worn to look pretty on the dancefloor. Sorry Nola. But she was also the link for me between the world of modern clown and older influences, so I’d have to invite her. She’s also hugely mischievous company.  


And so: the dead ones. I’ve tried to not pick anyone too cool, because just because I invite them doesn’t mean that they actually come. 


Rod Hull, because then you get Emu for free. Roland The Farter, the medieval flatulist who was given a manor in the twelfth century for performing “one jump and whistle, and one fart”. Caroline Aherne, who I think would just be a delight. Frank Sidebottom, because he wouldn’t eat much, so that cuts down costs. Carmen Miranda, as long as no one brought a fruit salad. 

The more I think about this dinner party the more I think it would be a total disaster. I hate comedians and I hate spending time with them. We are horrible. 


Since you started out in comedy what have been the most important things you’ve discovered about yourself and the type of comedy/performer you want to be?


So: I went to clown school (I apologise) in France, and it was run by this ancient wise sage of clowning called Philippe Gaulier. As well as a wise sage, he was also fucking rude. And funny. And offensive. Anyway, he said something to us along the lines of – “We are always searching. When you find your style, that is a good day to die.”


I think that’s my answer. It doesn’t matter what I want to be. I have to be what I am. And I have to discover that every time I make something. Don’t fixate on what you want to be because you will never reach it that way anyway. 

And finally, what would you hope Fringe audiences will take away from Luke Rollason, Let Down Your Hair?


Hopefully, none of my props. Take away my trinkets and I’m nothing, unless there’s a discount store nearby in which case I’ll probably be OK. 

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