Rosie Jones: “I hope people with disabilities can see me on TV and think: if she can do it, I can do it” | The comedy

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 Rosie Jones:


A Great British, Female, Gay, Disabled, Covid-Compliant Adventure was the original name of Rosie Jones’ new travel show. “But,” says its host, “we thought when you have a presenter who speaks slowly, presenting that would take a whole bloody day.” She could also have called it Stereotypically Shit Places, another phrase that came up in today’s Zoom chat. “The idea,” she says, “was to visit places the locals would go:“ Why did you come to Whitby on your vacation ?! »» Finally, Channel 4 chose Trip Hazard: My Great British Adventure. The four-part series, about current comedian Jones “Go Shit places and make the most of them,” premieres this spring.

It is, says Jones, “the first show I’ve done where I’m the leader.” Silly, smart, and told by Olivia Colman, this is unlikely to be the last. While the past 12 months have been an absolute disaster for most live-action comedians, the Jones star has been steadily rising and the work continues. OK, so his concert at the prestigious Melbourne Comedy Festival was canceled and a Tokyo Paralympic Games presenting role went south. But, she says, “I didn’t stop working. I wrote a book. And I went out and filmed a prime-time travel show on Channel 4. I feel like the luckiest person in comedy. ”

The ‘talking slowly’ mentioned above is a symptom of her ataxic cerebral palsy, which also affects her movements. She once ruled out a career in comedy “because people got to my punchlines before I did.” When she figured out how to use this to her advantage, delivering punchlines that were much more subversive in her day than the public expected, a stand-up career took off.

Having cut his teeth in television production and as a writer on shows such as The Last Leg, Jones is now a fixture on the starry side of the cameras. She’s done Live at the Apollo, has her own BBC Radio 4 Box Ticker stand-up vehicle, and even acquired that essential notch in the footboard of any modern comic book – a fake scandal – when an ‘inappropriate’ gag about Greta Thunberg blew up Twitter a year ago. .

Kiss from a Rosie… Jones on stage at Latitude Festival, 2019. Photographie: Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images / Rex / Shutterstock

While she had a dry run on travelogues with the C4 / YouTube series Mission: Accessible, which assessed disabled access to various attractions in the UK, Trip Hazard is the first show she has ever seen. helped not to pose a disability problem. “There is a strange comment,” she said, “but it’s not“ a disabled person is going around the country ”. It’s just obvious.

Rather, the idea was to do a travel show for the lockout era. “I live in London,” Jones says. “But during the lockdown I went back to Yorkshire with my mom and dad. I grew up in a seaside town [Bridlington] that I spent 18 years hating. But coming back as an adult, I said to myself: it’s quite beautiful.

The show takes Jones across the country with a succession of famous buddies, visiting places that exist in this Venn diagram where shit and fantasy meet. “You hear the word ‘Norwich’,” Jones said, “and, although I’d never been there, I thought, well, no.”

Trip Hazard also parodies the travel shows convention, pinning Rosie’s escapades with behind-the-scenes powwows with her crass commissioning, played by comic book Rachel Stubbings (“You tick a lot of boxes: female, disabled, gay, Nordic ”). The 30-year-old says she relied on personal experience of what she shyly calls “stimulating commissioners with interesting thoughts.” The result is funny and easy to watch TV, in which Jones ziplines through Anglesey with Jenny Eclair, fossil hunting with Joe Wilkinson and sleeps close to the equine residents of a Lake District stable.

All four episodes were filmed back to back in just a fortnight, a grueling schedule that sentenced Jones to four days of recovery in his Bridlington bed. Like his comedy, characterized by boiling and excitement, Jones’ diet may seem to shed light on the challenges a person with a disability faces. She is aware of this danger and aware of her responsibilities (as she sees them) to represent people with disabilities while still being more than just a person with a disability herself.

Rosie Jones
Queen of comedy… Rosie Jones.

The most vivid example of her live work came in 2019’s Backward show. There, after 55 gleeful minutes of wanking gags and audition jokes for the Diversity street dance troupe, Jones pivoted to a discussion of how she is greeted by strangers on the street: with affection by those who recognize her, but often with abuse by those who don’t. This is the life of people with disabilities in modern Britain – a point she made even more forcefully on BBC One Question Time last November, when she found herself mano a mano with Matt Hancock.

“I’ve never, ever been so nervous,” she says now. “But I was determined to take the opportunity to say, ‘What are you and your government doing for people with disabilities? Because currently, six out of ten people who die from Covid are disabled. And to hold it responsible for the unemployment of disabled people, by withdrawing their benefits. At present, it is not a good country if you are a person with a disability. ”

His appearance made headlines and was applauded. “Then 48 hours went by, and everyone forgot about it. Something else is happening and people with disabilities are being ignored and neglected again. “

Perhaps with this in mind, she focuses more on representation than activism. For Jones, it is inherently political for her to simply to be, as a prominent comedian, writer and presenter, also disabled. That’s the impetus behind her upcoming children’s book, The Amazing Edie Eckhart, about a girl with cerebral palsy. The idea, of course, is to give disabled (and able-bodied) readers a heroine who “may walk a little bit funny but who is otherwise like everyone else.”

There were no such heroines available to Jones as a child. “And looking back,” she says, “it had long term effects, opening all those books, turning on the TV and never seeing someone like me. I told my mom recently, when I used to envision my adulthood, it was just me working in a convenience store where mom and dad could take me and pick me up. I could never imagine living alone and having a job that I wanted to do. Because I have never seen him.

“Later, when I started working in television, I was almost always the only disabled person working on a production. And now I’m in comedy myself, in most panels, if there is a disabled person, it’s normally me. Which is great for me! she laughs. “But I would very much like in the next few years to see more actors, directors, producers, curators with disabilities. I hope people with disabilities can see me on TV and think: if she can do it, I can do it. “

If they’re not inspired by the prospect of an all-expense-paid vacation in Norwich …

” I know! Jones hoots. “I mean, what more do they want? “

Trip Hazard: My Great British Adventure starts on Friday 9 April on Channel 4

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