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I TALK TO Rosie Jones

There's a real buzz about newcomer Rosie Jones who this year will be taking her debut show Fifteen Minutes up to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

© Aemen Sukkar

Rosie Jones has cerebral palsy and began her career as a researcher in television working on shows like The Last Leg, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and Would I Lie to You? before becoming a stand-up and appearing on 8 Out of 10 Cats, The Last Leg: Correspondents and more recently Silent Witness.

I'm lucky enough to interview a lot of comedians for the site, but I just thought it was worth mentioning that Rosie was honestly one of the loveliest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking.

She spoke to me about making mistakes, turning down Britain's Got Talent and the meaning behind her show title.

Going back to the beginning, what made you want to become a comedian?

Because of my disability, I've always found that comedy is a great way to diffuse a situation, because people often feel a bit awkward around me. I've always used comedy to make them feel at ease and make them go "Oh! She's quite clever. She's quite funny. There's more to her than her disability."

So I've used comedy in my everyday life forever actually, but I never thought I could do it as a job. And because I speak slowly, I thought I'd be the world's worst comedian because all the audience would get to the punchline before me!

It hit me one day and I thought, although I can't help the speed of my voice, why don't I use that as a comedy device and make people think they know where I'm heading, but actually surprise them by heading in entirely the other direction?

So it's that surprise, on top of the joke that makes audiences enjoy the punchline even more.

You're about to perform your debut hour, but you were in Edinburgh last year with a shorter show, Inspiration. How was that experience for you?

It was my first time ever at the Edinburgh Fringe so it felt like a baptism of fire and I think I made all my mistakes... I drank every night, I didn't go to bed before 4am so it was the best and the worst month of my life!

I learnt a lot of lessons last year that I hope to put in place this year and I just want to really make sure that my show is the best hour I can do. It's getting there...

Do you feel more confident about your debut hour because of the experience you had last year?

I do, because I know what I'm going to and I know that I can't go out every night and I just want to make sure that I focus on my show. That makes me so excited because I've been really enjoying doing the show.

There's something about doing an hour that is so brilliant. It allows you to dig deeper and do more than a few jokes here and there.

Why have you called the show Fifteen Minutes?

I've got a joke at the start where I say that it's called Fifteen Minutes because I've only written 30 minutes of material, but in my voice it will take an hour! But actually it's because when I was born, I didn't breathe for fifteen minutes which is a really long time. I wouldn't recommend it.

But actually, it's a short amount of time for your whole life to change. Because of those fifteen minutes, I developed cerebral p

alsy and actually those first minutes have affected every single minute after those.

So the show actually explores that and explores who I would be if those fifteen minutes had gone differently and I had been able bodied, who she would be.

It sounds like a very personal show. Have you found it difficult to write?

When I started writing the show, I didn't realise how personal it would be. I think I just love the idea of exploring who I will be if those fifteen little minutes had gone differently.

But actually, writing the show I've spoken to my mum and dad a lot and it does feel slightly personal, but actually I enjoy that. I enjoy having a close relationship with my audience and I want them to leave thinking that they know me and perhaps let them in to something I don't tell everyone. I want to let the audience know me.

What are you most looking forward to about Edinburgh this year?

Just the opportunity to perform my show every day. It's sounds boring, but that's what I'm going up for and just being able to say something personal every day and hopefully make them laugh!

In 2011 you were part of Channel 4's disability trainee scheme, do you think television has improved in terms of disability representation?

Oh yes, definitely. I remember even when I started 7 years ago, I was the only disabled person in the whole production company I worked at.

We're getting there and the Paralympics really helped. They made the image of superhuman and the idea that disability doesn't necessarily mean it's a disadvantage. But we have still got a long way to go.

When you think about society, 20% of people in Britain are disabled and that isn't nearly represented on TV. So we're going in the right direction but boy we've got a long way to go yet!

Do you think Lost Voice Guy (Lee Ridley) winning Britain's Got Talent this year has helped to change perceptions of disabled comedians?

I bloody hope so! I hope there isn't just room for one disabled comedian but I think he's done an amazing job. He's just shown the general public that just because somebody is disabled, it doesn't mean that they're not funny.

I know Lee a bit and I'm so happy he won.

Is it true that you were approached to take part in Britain's Got Talent this year?

I was! I was approached earlier this year and they said to me that they wanted me to come on the show and I did seriously think about it, but for me, it's something that I don't feel that I need at this stage in my career.

I'm pleased with my progress, because I've only really been performing for two years so I feel like I'm doing alright on my own.

For me, I want to know that, if I make it, I will make it off my own back. I don't really want to be attached so that TV show for the rest of my career. So for me it wasn't right.

Who are you most looking forward to seeing this year?

Oh there's so many! I think it'll be a great year for women. There are so many great people performing this year, people like Jayde Adams, Kiri Pritchard-McLean and Suzi Ruffell.

I've also got to mention Charlie Baker who's got a kids show this year about a goat and it sounds bonkers!

What's next for you?

I'm writing at the moment a few projects. The big one is that I'm working on a sitcom, fingers crossed! But then everyone's working on a bloody sitcom! So we'll see.

But right now I just love performing so I'm focussing on that and becoming a better comedian.

Finally, how would you sum up your show in just five words?

Honest. Cheeky. Hilarious. Emotional. Me.

Rosie Jones: Fifteen Minutes runs from 1st - 26th August (Not 13th) at 8:30pm at the Pleasance Courtyard (Pleasance This). Book tickets here.


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