Sunday, October 24

Rosie Jones: ‘I hope people with disabilities can see me on TV and think: if she can do it, I can do it’ | Comedy

TO Great British, Female, Gay, Disabled, Covid-Compliant Adventure was the original name of Rosie Jones’ new travel program. “But,” says your host, “we think that when you have a slow-talking presenter, introducing him would take the whole damn day.” He could have also called it Stereotypically Shit Places, another phrase that was spoken in today’s Zoom chat. “The idea,” he says, “was to visit the places where local people would go: ‘Why did you come to Whitby for your vacation?’” In the end, Channel 4 settled on Trip Hazard: My Great British Adventure. The four-part series, about comedian of the moment Jones “going to shitty places and getting the most out of it,” opens this spring.

It is, Jones says, “the first show I do where I’m the director.” Silly, smart and narrated by Olivia Colman, it is unlikely to be the last. While the last 12 months have been an absolute disaster for most stand-up comedians, Jones’ star has continued to rise and the work keeps pouring in. Okay, so her performance at the prestigious Melbourne comedy festival was turned down and a Tokyo Paralympic presentation role went south. But, he says, “I haven’t stopped working. I’ve been writing a book. And I went out and filmed a Channel 4 travel show in primetime. I feel like the luckiest person in comedy. “

The aforementioned “talking slowly” is a symptom of your ataxic cerebral palsy, which also affects your movement. He once ruled out a career as a comedy actor “because people would get to my auction before me.” When he discovered how to use this to his advantage, delivering in his own sweet moment much more subversive punch lines than the audience expected, a stand-up career took off.

Having worked in television production and as a writer on shows like The Last Leg, Jones is now a fixture on the starry side of cameras. He’s done Live at the Apollo, has his own BBC Radio 4 Box Ticker, and even acquired that essential notch on the bedpost of any modern comic book (spurious outrage) when an “inappropriate” joke about Greta Thunberg was enraged on Twitter a year ago. .

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

While I had a test in the travel diaries with the C4 / YouTube series Mission: Accessible, which measured handicap access at various UK attractions, Trip Hazard is the first program they have featured that does not make their disability an issue. “There is some strange comment,” he says, “but this is not ‘a disabled person goes around the country’. That’s just a fact. “

Instead, the idea was to make a travel program for the era of confinement. “I live in London,” says Jones. “But during the confinement I moved 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 thought: it’s quite beautiful. “

The show takes Jones across the country with a succession of famous friends, visiting places that exist in that Venn diagram where junk and fantasy meet. “You hear the word ‘Norwich,'” says Jones, “and even though I’d never been there, I thought, well, no.”

Trip Hazard also pokes fun at the travel show convention, tying Rosie’s excursions with behind-the-scenes pow-wows with her crude commissioned writing, played by fellow comedian Rachel Stubbings (“Tick a lot of boxes: female, disabled, gay , northern “). . The 30-year-old says she drew on the personal experience of what she coyly calls “some defiant commissioners with interesting thoughts.” The result is fun, easy-to-watch television, in which Jones roams Anglesey with Jenny Eclair, searches for fossils with Joe Wilkinson, and sleeps in awkward proximity to equine residents of a Lake District stable.

The four episodes were shot one after another in just fifteen days, a grueling schedule that sentenced Jones to a four-day convalescence in his Bridlington bed. Like his comedy, characterized by exaltation and enthusiasm, the Jones regime can seem to take lightly the challenges faced by a person with their disabilities. She is aware of that danger and is alert to her responsibilities (as she sees them) of representing disabled people, always being more than a disabled person.

Rosie jones
Comedy queen … Rosie Jones.

The most striking example of her live work came on the 2019 Backward show. There, after 55 minutes of gleeful banter and banter about auditioning for the Diversity street dance company, Jones moves on to a discussion about how strangers greet her at the street: with affection for those who recognize her, but often with abuse on the part of those who know her. do not do it. Such is life for disabled people in modern Britain, a point she made most strongly at BBC One question time last November, when he came face-to-face with Matt Hancock.

“I’ve never, never been so nervous,” she says now. “But I was determined to take the opportunity to say, ‘What are you and your government doing for disabled people? Because right now, six out of 10 people who have died from Covid have been disabled. ‘ And hold you responsible for the unemployment of disabled people, that they take away your benefits. Right now, this is not a good country if you are a disabled person. “

His appearance made headlines and won praise. “Then 48 hours passed and everyone forgot. Something else shows up and disabled people are ignored and overlooked again. “

It is with that in mind, perhaps, that he focuses more on representation than activism. For Jones, it is inherently political that she simply to be, as a prominent comedian, writer, and presenter who also happens to be 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 readers (and healthy ones) a heroine who “may walk a little funny but is otherwise just like everyone else.”

There were no such heroines available to Jones as a child. “And looking back,” he 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 imagine my adulthood, it was just me working at a corner store that mom and dad could take me to and pick me up. I could never imagine living alone and having a job that I wanted to do. Because I never saw it.

“Then 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 panel shows, if there’s a disabled person, it’s usually me. Which is great for me! “She laughs.” But I would love to see more disabled comedians, directors, producers and commissioners in the years to come. I hope people with disabilities can watch me on TV and think: if she can do it, I can do it. “

If you’re not inspired by the prospect of an all-expenses-paid Norwich vacation …

“He!” yells Jones. “I mean, what more do you want?”

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

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