Luke Rollason’s Planet Earth is very different to the one you all know, a low-budget, one-man nature documentary using office supplies, and he makes his debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival at the Monkey Barrel for the month of August.
Luke spoke with The Fountain about what we can expect from his show and what inspired him to get into this line of comedy.
TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how exciting?
Very exciting! When I don’t look at my pre-fringe to do list. But it’s the one time of year you can be certain you’re in the most exciting place on earth.
TF: Planet Earth certainly sounds intriguing, what is the premise?
The premise of the show is that a huge ecological disaster has wiped out thousands of endangered species, including the BBC. But because of TV programming schedules, a plucky intern at the abandoned beeb has to create the third series of Planet Earth by himself using office supplies. I promise this backstory isn’t just a paper-thin justification for me pretending to be animals with what a normal human being would keep in their desk. Expect sellotape-spinning spiders, fan powered hummingbirds, and the most dramatic seahorse birthing sequence ever seen onstage.
TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?
The show began because for my very first gig I had absolutely nothing prepared and no idea how to go about preparing something. So I strapped an office lamp on my head and pretended to be an anglerfish in the dark for five minutes. I filled five minutes just turning on this lamp, making noises, and turning it off again. I think one of the greatest influences in my work is poor preparation. Having nothing prepared but an idiotic idea, and sharing that with an audience, allows you complete freedom to be open to whatever happens as a result.
After that gig, someone said I should do a whole show of animals. I laughed this off until I decided to apply to festivals with a show that didn’t exist, at which point it seemed like a brilliant idea. Planet Earth II was on TV at the time, so that was obviously a big influence.
I first got into clowning because of performers like Trygve Wakenshaw. I always wanted to create a mime show and I always thought of Planet Earth as a mime show, until I realised there was absolutely no mime in it.
TF: What are your plans for the Fringe, having been before are there any tips or musts you would offer to first-time performers?
I have been to the Fringe before, but this is my first year as a solo performer. Fortunately I have a lovely team, and I’m so happy to be a part of the Heroes and Monkey Barrel teams. They are both excellent alternative non-institutionalised comedy institutions that foster actual communities in an arts festival which can so often feel lonely, divisive and competitive. I’d massively recommend checking out the Blundabus, which is an epicentre of chaos in the true spirit of the fringe. But the most important thing is to find your own community – which you definitely won’t find in any of the traditional “networking” spaces. The comedians whose shows I am most looking forward to seeing are Matt Ewins, Kit Sullivan, Christopher Bliss, Lucy Pearman, John Luke Roberts and Elf Lyons.
TF: And what are your future plans beyond The Fringe?
After the Fringe, I’d like to live in a world in which my dire predictions for the future don’t come true. But I’ll settle for getting to perform my show a few more times, until the BBC actually makes the third series of Planet Earth and I become obsolete.
Luke Rollason: Planet Earth, Monkey Barrel, 2.30pm, 2nd – 26th August (not 15th)