Rosie Wilby: The Break-Up Monologues interview

Comedian, writer and broadcaster Rosie Wilby is taking her hilarious storytelling night The Break-Up Monologues to the Poplar Union as part of its What’s Love Got to do With It season. Rosie will be hosting a fabulous night, featuring Elf Lyons, Sarah Benetto, Pippa Evans and Paula Varjack, who will be sharing tales of love and loss on Tuesday 13th February. We caught up with Rosie to talk break-ups, books and Valentine’s…

Funny Women: Tell us about the Break-Up Monologues

Rosie Wilby: It’s a cross-platform project, comprising live events, a podcast and a blog. I devised it as a way of pulling together some of the strands of my solo comedy work investigating relationships, from my book Is Monogamy Dead? to my show The Conscious Uncoupling. I thought it would be fun to hear from other artists about some of their romantic misadventures. Also, it’s a sneaky way of gathering ideas and inspiration for my second book which will be all about break-ups and how we humans, in all our glorious eccentricity, process them.

FW: Who is taking part?

RW: Most of the acts who responded to my callout were women so events have, thus far, featured all-female talent. However, I’m open to male acts getting involved in future. At the next live event, we have some of my absolute favourites. Pippa Evans and Elf Lyons have been in Funny Women Awards finals in years gone by and have gone onto great things. There’s also Sarah Bennetto, founder of Storytellers Club, so just perfect for a narrative-form comedy night. Also a performer friend of mine called Paula Varjack, who sits in the grey area between comedy, theatre and poetry. Paula will perform some spoken word she wrote specially for The Break-up Monologues. Then the other performances take the form of an onstage interview/therapy session onstage with me. Pippa’s story is particularly bonkers, involving an orchard, a trampoline and flying CDs.

FW: This event takes place on the eve of Valentine’s Day, what do you think of Valentine’s?

RW: I’ve written a fair bit in my book about the unrealistic expectations set up by the portrayal of romance in films and the media. Rarely do we see real relationships and the humdrum domesticity associated with longer term commitment. Valentine’s Day is right at the apex of all this overblown fakery. So to a great extent, I’m very cynical.

However, my girlfriend and I will, no doubt, exchange cards that day and make an effort to do something nice for one another. So there’s no harm in a little reminder to be conscious and present with your partner. Mind you, that should probably be every day if possible.

FW: Do you think there is much humour in heartbreak?

RW: There’s that old adage ‘tragedy plus time equals comedy’. I think with hindsight we gain a perspective on relationship endings and move from thinking, ‘God, my ex was a dick!’ to realising, ‘… and so was I!’ Sometimes our actions are so heightened and extreme that they can become very funny when we look back.

I also think that the way that new technology plays a role in our romantic lives is fascinating. I was dumped by email a few years ago and decided to re-read the fateful message five years on. I felt much better about it… once I’d corrected her spelling, punctuation and changed the font! And that was the germ of the idea for my solo show.

FW: You did a lot of research for your book Is Monogamy Dead? have you learned anything since its publication?

RW: The book ended with me beginning a new relationship with ‘S’. At the time, I didn’t know for certain if it was a genuine happy ending or not. It’s now a year on and we’ve moved in together. So I think it’s all good.

FW: And lastly, who are your favourite funny women?

RW:There are so many. I loved the darkness of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag. But some of my absolute favourites are circuit friends who are not TV names. Suzy Bennett, who won the Funny Women Awards the year that I was in the final, is a real unsung talent. My two favourite Edinburgh shows last Summer were by Charmian Hughes and Ada Campe.

The Break-Up Monologues are on at the Poplar Union on Tuesday 13th February at 8.00pm. For tickets and more information click here!