Rosie Waterland first entered the national lexicon in 2013 with her satirical recaps of The Bachelor, which soon threatened to outshine the show itself. Then in 2015 she released a best-selling, critically acclaimed memoir, The Anti-Cool Girl, about her tumultuous childhood.
The pace hasn’t slowed. In the past 12 months Waterland released a second book (Every Lie I’ve Ever Told), created a podcast, and is getting started on a TV show. In-between all of this, she found the time to write a live comedy show, Crazy Lady, which she’ll perform in Melbourne later this month.
Her work, plentiful and varied as it is, shares a common thread: the juxtaposition of light and dark as she navigates complex and difficult topics with equal parts humour and sensitivity.
“I wouldn’t know how to do it any other way,” she says. “Even in both my books I think there’s a joke on every page even when I’m writing about the darkest stuff.”
Crazy Lady is no different. “I’ve been telling people it’s a funny show about mental health – that’s the best way I can think to describe it,” she tells Broadsheet.
The show is designed to entertain but is deeply personal at the same time.
“I’ve always had problems with mental illness,” Waterland says. “I sort of convinced myself that I was largely recovered from that and I was doing fine, and then last year my best friend Antonio died quite suddenly and unexpectedly.
“I ended up having a nervous breakdown after a suicide attempt,” she explains matter-of-factly. “I’m a storyteller and a comedian, so I thought, ‘Okay, the best way I know to deal with this is to make … some piece of art out of it’.”
“It sounds intense,” she says, laughing. “But it’s a comedy show, I swear.”
In addition to inspiring Crazy Lady, Waterland’s experiences last year diverted the course of Every Lie I’ve Ever Told, which she intended originally to be a series of funny essays. While writing, though, she found herself weaving in a story about grief, and how she was dealing with hers.
“I think it makes it more accessible to people,” Waterland says. “A book about me attempting suicide after the death of my soulmate would be … a bit … much for people to read if it wasn’t also kind of funny.”
“I suppose it makes it easier for me to write about – and … makes it easier for people to engage with.”
Waterland is excited to return to the stage, She debuted her first one-woman show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival last year. My Life On The Couch (With Vodka) was a sell-out, and Waterland toured it nationally last October.
“I do miss that kind of storytelling. I love writing – I’m certainly a better writer than I am actor. But writing is such a solitary activity,” she says.
“You just kind of put your heart and soul into what you’re doing and then hope that it resonates with people the way you want it to.”
Crazy Lady will show at the Athenaeum Theatre on October 27. Tickets are available here.