WATCH: Jack Rooke’s Dawn Of A New Gay

Comedian and theatre maker Jack Rooke turns to the screen with his debut film Dawn of a New Gay, a short full of generous humour and lurid detail, finds Kate Wyver

Comedian Jack Rooke has released a new short film called Dawn of A New Gay. Made in conjunction with Channel 4’s Random Acts and directed by Rosie Gaunt-Mathieson, the five-minute film premiered at London Film Festival this week. You can watch it above.

The film is adapted from Rooke’s fringe theatre show, Love Letters. The hour-long set was Rooke’s first live show to be billed as comedy rather than theatre, after several years of unlikely stand up about death and male depression. Love Letters takes a lighter turn, stitching together tales of romantic, platonic and familial love, with Rooke’s playful stories of pleasure underscored by a live harp, performed by Alexander Thomas.

Dawn of A New Gay borrows Love Letters’ generous humour, lurid detail and laid-back tone. In a generic flat-pack university bedroom, Rooke takes us back to freshers week. Neatly lining up his inhalers on his bedside table, he gently places a barge pole between him and the idea of being a BNOC. Splayed out on the bed, he launches into details you’d usually save for the pub, at least three pints down.

The story Rooke tells is a case of mistaken identity. Speaking directly to camera with a wide-eyed faux innocence, he regales the tale of his first night going to a fleece-laden gay club.

Stuffed into the room beside Rooke is Alexander Thomas and his giant golden harp, the delicate strings almost turning the scene into a bardic tale. Rooke is a natural storyteller, lowering his voice to usher us in closer, but offsets Thomas’s black-tie elegance with his diva-like demands that he play something “a little bit sexier […] like I don’t know imagine your mum’s just died and I’m walking to the hospital to comfort your dad and me and him form a romantic bond […] that kind of sexy.” Thomas responds with a withering look. The camera slips the focus from the angelic harp to the toilet seat behind.

It is only a snippet from the live show, but the short is a taster of Rooke’s comedic style; his effortless oversharing, his wry confessions, and his way of diving into an embarrassing story and emerging from it laughing.

Dawn of A New Gay is Rooke’s debut film.

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