By ITV News Multimedia Producer Wedaeli Chibelushi
Less than five years ago, Rosie Jones made the leap from TV researcher (for panel shows like Would I Lie To You) to comedian.
Why did she quit a job she loved to become a little-known name on a competitive circuit?
“Probably my own ego,” she laughs.
“I grew up loving all comedy and I come from a funny family. We always sit round a table and make each other laugh.”
Jones tells ITV News that while working as a researcher, she would watch comedians and think “I can do that! I have it in me to do exactly that!”.
Jones was correct - in just three years she has vaulted from researcher to regular panelist. She has joined seasoned comics on shows like Eight out of Ten Cats and Mock the Week, winning new fans with her brazen takes and bubbly demeanour.
The 30-year-old has also starred on Live at the Apollo, acted in Silent Witness and written for hit Netflix show Sex Education.
Most recently, Jones scooped a comedy award handed out annually by LGBT+ magazine Attitude. She joined the likes of Stephen Fry and Taylor Swift in accepting awards.
Despite scaling to heady heights as a comedian, Jones didn’t realise how emotional being lauded by one of Britain’s biggest LGBT+ titles would make her.
“I am proud to be a gay, disabled woman but it has taken me a while to get here,” she says - Jones has ataxic cerebral palsy, which heavily impacts her speech and mobility.
Jones adds: “For ages, I didn’t know what it meant to be gay and disabled. To be recognised for just going out and being me meant everything.”
Jones talks at length about intersectionality - the interconnected nature of characteristics like disability, sexuality and race.
It’s become her “passion in life”, though it was a completely alien concept when growing up in coastal Yorkshire during the nineties.
Jones explains why intersectionality is so important to her
“I spent a lot of life trying to fit into different boxes in order to function in society. I feel like you got one label and my label was ‘disabled’.
“So, all my other labels had to go by the wayside, like my sexuality and even, weirdly, my gender,” Jones explains.
Jones’ understanding of her identity has improved significantly since then. However, in her early days as a researcher, she felt her disability meant becoming a comic wasn’t possible.
Jones believed that, in particular, her slow speech was a definite barrier.
“It wasn’t even a sob story, it was much more of a fact, like, ‘okay, I’ve got cerebral palsy, I can’t be a hairdresser, or a doctor, or a comedian’,” she says.
Jones’ speech ended up being a boon - midway through a joke her audience begins to anticipate a certain punchline, only for Jones to take them in a completely different direction.
Her inventiveness places her among the ranks of “rising queer women” in comedy - "I feel like it’s our time, there’s so many of us preparing to take on the world," she says.
Jones says LGBT+ representation in comedy still has some way to go
Although Jones is pleased with queer representation within her circle of London comedy club comics, she acknowledges that television comedy is has a way to go.
She says: “There’s a lot more new brilliant queer comedians, like Kemah Bob, Sophie Duker and Chloe Petts, who I hope in about five or 10 years will be all over the TV at every hour of every day”.
What will the next five or 10 years look like for Jones?
She’ll have added children's author to her CV - her book about an 11-year-old with cerebral palsy, the Amazing Edie Eckhart, comes out in August. She is also in the process of writing sitcoms.
Finally, Jones eagerly awaits the return of her beloved live comedy scene.
She urges comedy fans to visit their local comedy club as soon as it’s safe to do so.
“It will be there, in the live comedy club, that you experience young, amazing, diverse comedians,” she says.
“How cool will you feel in five years when they’re on the telly and you can say ‘I saw them!’
“Live comedy and theatre is really struggling at the moment, so anything that anyone can do to go out and safely support live theatre is amazing.”
ITV News is showcasing the lives, legacies and stories of individuals throughout LGBT+ History Month, read more in the series here.
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