The Science of Sex is a light-hearted look on the chemistry of attraction, that draws on the comic’s own academic background as well as own affairs of the heart. She’s been touring the show for a while now, but with such a broad theme there has always been something to add. She comes to the Unity Theatre as part of the Liverpool Comedy Festival on Friday, May 14.
She says: “I’ve done two shows now that work from a science-y base, like spoofy lectures. I have a science background, I’ve a science degree, and it’s come into play here and it’s quite fun.
“A lot of my material has been concerned with love, meeting somebody, sexuality, so it seemed like an interesting subject. So I put my white coat on, goggles, put on this science teacher guise as this funny science caricature. So it’s kind of in character – because I’m in the lab coat – and it’s kind of a tribute to old chemistry teachers and things, and an extension of my own personality. But it’s all about things that ring true.”
She adds: “I did a bit of research. Things like relationships grow through three year stages, ups and downs with chemical goings on. You think you’re falling out of love, and actually you’re just acclimatising to different hormones. And it’s been really interesting, reading about why we fall in love, why we fancy somebody. I also examine the difference between the gay and straight brains.
“It’s quite silly but hopefully it’ll make people think a little bit about relationships. I had a break up and got back together, so it’s got a poignant and sweet ending too.”
Science is enjoying a currently bit of a mainstream moment, thanks to the high profile work of people like Brian Cox and Ben Goldacre – both of whom do occasional live shows with stand up Robin Ince. And aside from Rosie, there’s the likes of comedians like Dara O’Briain, who has a degree in maths, Dave Gorman started didn’t finish his, and Shazia Mirza swapped science teaching for the lure of stand up.
“It’s interesting, maybe it’s something to do with the analytical mindset,” Rosie says. “Comedy is a creative process, yet there’s something quite geeky about working out whether that joke works or not. There’s something quite scientific about that process – you wouldn’t think so, you’d think it was totally creative, but there’s something a bit more technical about it.”
Rosie’s been on the circuit since 2006. Her stand up act actually developed from her performances as a singer-songwriter and her on-stage banter between songs. She was quickly successful, bagging awards straight away. Since then she has developed full hour shows, keeps touring the circuit and done two stints at Edinburgh.
“Edinburgh’s not something you go into easily, and I’ve always done it without a promoter. It’s something I think it’s important to do to build up your audience, but it’s not something people really make money from,” she says (Rosie also freelances and works in music PR aside from stand up).
“When I went last year I was thinking ‘why do I do this to myself?’ – 2008 was terrible, and the box office system crashed too – but in 2009 I had a great year. People I’d given free tickets to the year before had come back and, even though I was in a small room, I was selling out, building up my audience, feeling I’d got a fan base.
“Sometimes you get a bad review but there’ll always be some people who don’t laugh and I concentrate on the people who are. It’s a personal thing, what makes you laugh, like what we are attracted to.”
Rosie, whose dad still lives in Aughton, went to Ormskirk Grammar School then York University. After almost twenty years living in London, there’s barely a trace of her North West roots left in her accent.
But she’s fond of a Liverpool audience, noting successful gigs at Rawhide, Edge Hill Rose Theatre, and the Homotopia Lavender Girls shows as ones fondly remembered. Now 39, she acknowledges that although it hasn’t been a conventional journey in stand up, she’s pleased she can bring something a bit different to the table.
“Although I started comedy relatively late – the scene is mostly young, male comics – I’ve met quite a few people have done it too. In Edinburgh I did a joint show with Andrew Watts and Suzy Bennett called Late Starters.
“Sometimes it’s nice to be a bit different. The comedy business has been pretty sexist over the years. At shows where I’m headlining, the promoter might speak to me and take me for the MC – it just doesn’t occur to him I could be the headliner.
“Sometimes you can go on stage and there’s still a strange ‘oh, it’s a woman’ audience that takes a while to adjust. Sometimes you get nights where guys are all doing similar jokes, so it’s nice women are coming through to break it up.”