Jordan Brookes: 'I love surrendering myself to someone for an hour'
- Murray Robertson
- 28 February 2020
Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Jordan Brookes talks about breaking through in comedy and struggling with his mental health
When he won the Edinburgh Comedy Award six months ago, Jordan Brookes balanced his understandable joy with a healthy dose of pessimism, explaining that he didn't expect it to guarantee him a successful career, at least not in the short term.
'I feel almost aggressively like that is the case,' he confirms, putting to bed any notion that winning comedy's biggest award has gone to his head. 'It's difficult to put into words without seeming entitled to anything but it's definitely not opened any doors,' he laughs. 'These things aren't instantaneous so who knows. But I do think that the industry has a bottleneck and there are a lot of very talented people trying to access a limited number of opportunities. And I think that whether you've won an award or not, that bottleneck remains.'
Brookes has spoken very candidly in the past about difficulties he's had with his mental health, and he was very careful about how he processed this overnight attention and acclamation. 'The award is something that, when you first start, you really fantasise about winning. But by the time you get there you're like, "oh no, this isn't really what's gonna make me happy".' It's obviously lovely to have won and there was a part of me that was absolutely elated, but I think you also have to temper that elation with a bit of pragmatism, and not over-invest in those things. These systems, these institutions: they're not all set up to benefit everyone, and when something like that exists and it makes people sad or competitive then I think you have to approach it with a bit of caution.'
One benefit of winning the Comedy Award is that he's now able to put less pressure on himself every year in the run-up to the Fringe. 'I can now get out of that torrid Edinburgh annual cycle of getting to September or October and thinking about a show, then writing it, and it just sort of sitting over me for nine months. Often I get very preoccupied so it'll be the only thing I think about for months and months, and that's not necessarily a good thing for mental health. So I guess now I don't have to think about that so much and I can use Edinburgh as a place to develop a show as opposed to showcase one. In that sense, yes, I feel like I'm freed up a little bit.'