- by Beth Rose
- bbc access all
Comedian Rosie Jones is seen everywhere from Casualty to QI these days. But as she prepares to embark on her first solo stand-up tour, she’s also battling her own feelings of not belonging.
“I’m excited about the tour,” says Rosie, with only a few days to go. “I’m a little scared, but I’m excited to go out and meet people.”
At just 32 years old, Rosie’s got it all when it comes to “the media” — starring in long-running dramas, publishing several children’s books, and writing for the Netflix hit, Sex Education.
She’s also fronted Trip Hazard, appeared on her own travel show, Live at the Apollo, and got all political at Question Time (more on that shortly), but she says people are surprised to learn she hasn’t toured before. Have done
“I’ve really only been doing comedy for six years, and two of those were wiped out by a pandemic,” she tells Access All, the BBC’s weekly disability and mental health podcast.
His tour – Triple Threat – will examine the idea of dealing with newfound fame and whether he really deserves it, a subject that finds art imitating life.
From 3 March it has 35 fully accessible venues booked, including many performances with British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation.
She knows she can’t be seen dropping the ball on this one.
“I was absolutely determined to make sure every room was accessible,” she says, adding that the disabled community would be especially critical of her if she messed up.
“My production company had to call everywhere and say ‘what can you do?’ And any place that said ‘we can’t do that’ they said ‘we won’t make a living’.
Although she is excited about her tour, she is feeling nervous. Being a lesbian disabled woman, she explains, brings on impostor syndrome.
HearYou can hear more from Rosie on the BBC Access All podcast.
And what happens next when the government scraps its 10-year mental health plan?
“I think of the comedian stereotype I grew up with, who was male, non-disabled, straight, loud and really quick-talker.
“When you come to visit me, you won’t get the fast-paced jokes, but I guarantee you’ll laugh a lot.”
Rosie has cerebral palsy. It affects her speech and walking and she says she is “constantly fighting an inner competence”.
Abilityism is discrimination that favors non-disabled people over people with disabilities.
Internalized ableism, a phrase we’re hearing a lot especially on social media, is when a person with a disability absorbs the discrimination they face and thinks of themselves as the same.
“Being a woman and being gay means that every time I am on TV I will get a comment about my voice, my disability, my weight, my teeth, my hair. is the way.
“I’m in therapy because of that. I’m really dealing with a lot of inner competence and things that I probably portrayed as a joke,” she says.
Trolling and competence is on his mind at the moment. As well as preparing for her tour, she is filming a Channel 4 documentary about society’s attitudes towards disabled people, to be broadcast in May.
She says: “Every single day I encounter some form of ableism online or in real life and I feel like I have to come here and go ‘you know,’ in order to erase it, to confront the abusers.” What is it, it is not right’.
“We absolutely need to summon competence to eradicate it.”
When Rosie appeared twice on BBC One’s flagship debate show, Question Time, social media lit up with seriously nasty comments about her, which made headlines.
“Both the abuses I was getting, I started trending on Twitter,” she says.
,[They were saying] That I should be in a cage, I shouldn’t be on TV, I should be dead.”
Stars such as TV presenter and author Richard Osmond, who is visually impaired himself, came out in support and it inspired a national debate about how society views disability.
BBC reporter Alex Taylor summed it up at the time: “Society is used to discussing disability, but so many disabled people don’t make their voices heard.”
It’s been two years since Rosie’s last appearance on the late night politics show and she has had time to reflect.
“I think Question Hour is fantastic, but it attracts a lot of angry people and not only being female, disabled and gay I’m also surprised, surprised, extremely labor-intensive. So when I went on that show and Said ‘Here’s what I think’ A lot of right wing people didn’t agree with me and the easy thing for me to do was that I had a disability.
“Would I do it again? Yes. But I’ll go out there more prepared and I’ll probably be off my Twitter for a few weeks.”
The experience shook her but she says it is more important to speak up for what she believes in.
“I will always support diversity, but it’s hard and it’s exhausting when I find myself getting abused so much.”
Rosie’s career continued to rise despite that experience. His series of children’s books about The Amazing Eddie Eckhart, who has cerebral palsy. has brought her legions of young fans and she is currently the go-to girl when it comes to booking female, disabled comedians.
“Selfishly I love that because it bought me a lovely house,” she jokes. “But I don’t think I’m taking jobs away from other disabled people.
“We’re still, unfortunately, at a stage where they’re either getting me or any other white straight non-disabled person.”
She says that appearing on as many different shows as possible “may encourage more people with disabilities to get into the industry”.
Her “ultimate dream” is to appear on a panel show that happens to feature several other disabled comics at the same time.
It’s something she came close to recently when she presented Rosie Jones’ Disability Comedy Extravaganza – an online show featuring 10 disabled up and coming comedians for UKTV Play and Dave TV’s YouTube channel.
One of the comedians performing was Dan Tiernan who talks about being dyspraxic in his stand-up routine. He has won both the BBC New Comedy Award and British Comedian of the Year, demonstrating the act’s strength and mainstream appeal.
Rosie appreciates that with her recent success, she can help change the industry.
“I’ve got this platform, and it’s about how we bring a load of great disabled comics with us,” she says.
As Rosie prepares to fly to Birmingham for opening night, she admits, “I’m really proud of myself”.
Like a rockstar, she has a non-negotiable rider whom she expects to deliver at every location.
“It’s the most embarrassing thing. I wish I had a pack of fags and a bottle of whisky. But that’s a tiny bit of Yorkshire tea.”
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