BY JULES HAYDON GUAITAMACCHI
British comedian Rosie Jones’ career is on an amazing trajectory. Having written for panel shows Would I Lie to You?, The Last Leg and 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, she also has appearances on The Last Leg, 8 Out of 10 Cats, Hypothetical and Silent Witness under her belt.
Born with ataxic cerebral palsy, Rosie weaves in a bit of mischief to her comedy, constructing jokes to subvert the punchline that audiences expect. For instance, she has used the opening line, “As you can tell from my voice, I suffer from being northern.” Having seen her rise up to the top of her game, we thought we’d get to know Rosie a little more.
What inspired you to become a comedian?
I worked in TV for 6 years and really enjoyed it. I worked on comedy shows but I slowly began to realise that I wanted to do something more creative. I’ve always loved writing, but because I’m disabled and have a speech disability I thought I could never become a comedian. Especially because there was no-one out there like me. After a while I began to realise that I could be that person. I knew if I didn’t try I would only regret it. From the first gig I fell in love with it completely and got the bug. I’ve found what I want to do now and I’ll never look back.
What’s it been like rising to fame?
It’s not about fame or whether I’m recognised. It’s about doing a job I love and enjoy. I’m paid to make people laugh and that matters to me more than fame. What really excites me is promoting the disabled and queer community. It’s more about getting my face and my story out there. This is how I talk. This is who I fancy. And aside from all the labels, hopefully I’m funny and good at my job. That’s all that really matters.
What’s it like coming out in the comedy industry?
I was worried about coming out. When I started out I would write jokes about fancying men because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. I thought it would be too much for an audience that accepted me as disabled to accept me as gay. When I made jokes about fancying men it would get me down, I wouldn’t feel authentic and I am an authentic person. When I came out, I was so nervous, but I made sure I had a bloody good joke to come out with. I think because I appear quite femme, people don’t automatically assume that I’m a lesbian and I use that to my advantage. I came out to my friends and family and they like me as a person. I can talk openly about liking women and it’s not an issue and that’s so refreshing.
What are some of your favourite jokes?
It’s hard to pick favourites because they’re all my babies! I like my dirty jokes, my cheeky jokes, because when I go on stage I usually wear cute little dresses. I think a lot people underestimate me and think I’m an adorable little disabled girl, so when I say something outrageous you can feel the audience thinking “oh, did she really just say that?”, “yeah I fucking did!” And I’m sure they change their opinion of me! I think people shouldn’t immediately assume they know everything about me.
What would you say to an aspiring comic with a disability?
Just do it! I think comedy is an incredible world and an amazing space. People think we’re just telling jokes but it’s more than that it’s opening peoples eyes to a whole new world, allowing them to see into your perspective. Comedy is about the different voices. So if you have funny bones and a unique and interesting story to tell, do it. If you have a physical disability, it won’t be a walk in the park. A lot of comedy venues still have problems with accessibility but the only way we’re going to combat and change that is having more disabled comedians in need of ramps instead of stairs. I think it will begin to change over time. Do it because I did it and I don’t regret it for one second.
What’s next for Rosie Jones?
I’m doing the Brighton Comedy Garden from Weds 19 – Sun 23 June. That’ll be great because I bloody love Brighton! I’m currently writing and have lots in the pipeline. I’m also writing a new Edinburgh show called ‘Backwards’ which will be at the Pleasant throughout August. So, if you’re there come along!
Find Rosie on Twitter @josierones
Or Facebook @rosiejonescomedian