COMEDIAN Rosie Jones is undertaking her first ever British tour with Triple Threat.
Join Bridlington-born Rosie, 33, at Leeds City Varieties Music Hall tonight and York Theatre Royal tomorrow as she ponders whether she is “a national treasure, a little prick, or somewhere in between” in a show full of unapologetic cheekiness, nonsensical fun and unadulterated joy.
A patron for Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, and campaigner for disability rights, she has two Channel 4 travelogue series to her name, Mission: Accessible and Trip Hazard, as well as her hard-hitting documentary Am I A R*tard, her response to online disability hate crimes, brought on by her having cerebral palsy.
Rosie has appeared on Live At The Apollo, The Jonathan Ross Show, 8 Out Of 10 Cats, 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown, The Last Leg, Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back, Mock The Week, Hypothetical, The Ranganation, Jon Richardson’s Channel Hopping, Dating No Filter, The Last Leg Tokyo and Question Time too.
Rosie has written for the Netflix series Sex Education and wrote and starred in Disability Benefits, commissioned by Channel 4 for its 2022 Comedy Blaps collection. As an actor, she made her prime-time debut in Silent Witness and had a recurring guest role as Paula in BBC One’s Casualty.
2022 saw the release of her second children’s book, The Amazing Edie Eckhart: The Big Trip, published by Hachette Children’s Group.
Here Rosie discusses her debut tour show, Triple Threat
Why is the show called Triple Threat?
“It’s the first joke in the show, so let’s keep that secret for anyone who might not know already. The whole show is about me, my life, my career and whether or not I’m on my way to being a national treasure or whether I’m hurtling down the road to becoming a national liability.
“I’m an optimistic person so I’m still fighting to be a national treasure, but it hasn’t happened yet, maybe because I keep accidentally talking about my boobs. National Treasure Judi Dench doesn’t talk about her boobs. Maybe she should.
“The show is also about how I branched out and started writing children’s books. People think of me as a disability activist and that’s lovely, but the show is about wondering whether I deserve that title. The secret is I don’t know anything about disability. I only know what it’s like to be me. So when they talk about getting awards and opportunities, I’m a bit like, ‘do I deserve them?’.”
Do you have any pre-show rituals? Are you very rock’n’roll on the road?
“I’m not rock’n’roll, you won’t see me throwing TVs out of windows. All I need is stuff to make a cup of tea and some Doritos, because I absolutely have to have my fix of crisps before I go on.”
How important is live performance to you?
“It was really lovely to start this year with my first love and where it began, writing new stand-up material, gigging around the country. I can’t believe that this is my first ever tour. In the last few years I haven’t been able to go out and meet people and do what I hope I do best, simply stand in front of an audience and make them laugh.”
Before you were a stand-up, you worked on shows such as The Last Leg. Were you always itching to be in front of the camera?
“I think the desire to be on the other side actually came quite slowly. When I was a researcher, I did a diploma at the National Film and Television School in writing and production and when I was writing jokes I thought, ‘you know what, if I write jokes and I genuinely believe in them, it doesn’t feel like a scary jump from that to performing’.
“The first time I did it I thought, ‘I won’t like it but I know I’ll be annoyed at myself if I never try it’. So I did it and obviously it was love at first sight.
“But on some level I’ve been performing my whole life because when I entered any room of any size I always had to have jokes in my back pocket and have the confidence to go, ‘hi I’m Rosie, how are you? Don’t worry, I’m disabled, I’m not drunk. Actually I am a bit drunk but don’t tell anyone’. Every time I went to a party or a pub I needed to do this comedy routine for people to be like, ‘oh right, I get you’.”
What else are you working on?
“I’m writing more children’s books. Two more in the Edie Eckhart series and the other is a non-fiction book called Moving On Up, which is for nine to 12-year-olds navigating that awkward time moving from primary school, when small changes feel like your entire world has fallen apart.
“Hopefully, when that happens, they will have my silly guide to lean back on, like an older sister saying, ‘don’t worry, I’ve been through it’.”
Talk about Am I A R*tard, your documentary about online abuse and ableism – prejudice against people with disabilities – shown on Channel 4 in July.
“Having cerebral palsy and being in the media means I receive online abuse pretty much every day. 95 per cent of Twitter comments are lovely but it’s that five per cent that keeps me up at night and makes me doubt myself, so for my own mental health I pay a social media company to go through my tweets so I don’t have to read them.
“Ableism isn’t taken as seriously as other minorities. When we were filming, I went into central London and asked people what ableism was and only one in 20 knew.”
You have been described as an “accidental activist”…
“As my career was building, I recognised that I was a disabled person with a platform and could use it to make a difference. I’ve always spoken up for what I believe in, but it happened organically. I’m in a very privileged position where people listen to me and unfortunately a lot of disabled people still go unheard, so if I can change that and alter things then absolutely I will.”
Can comedy change the world?
“Billy Connolly is one of my heroes and he said the most intelligent people in the world aren’t politicians, they are comedians. We can tell jokes and at the same time we can tell everyone what it’s like in the world right now. People find comedy really disarming and they underestimate the power it can have.”
Have you considered a career in politics?
“No, I think I can make more of a difference as a comedian.”
Rosie Jones: Triple Threat, Leeds City Varieties Music Hall, tonight (13/9/2023), 8pm; York Theatre Royal, Thursday, 8pm. Box office: Leeds, 0113 243 0808 or leedsheritagetheatres.com; York, 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.