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Rosie Jones: Fifteen Minutes

By | Published on Tuesday 7 August 2018

“During birth, Rosie’s shoulder got stuck”, says the blurb for Rosie Jones’ new show, setting out the premise. “It was her fault. It was the eighties and she did insist on wearing exceedingly stylish shoulder pads. As a result of this sexy shoulder slip up, Rosie didn’t breathe for fifteen minutes, which led to her developing cerebral palsy. In the hour, she explores who she would be if those crucial first fifteen minutes had gone differently”.

Which is to say that, in ‘Fifteen Minutes’ Rosie asks “who is ‘able bodied Rosie’?” Nobody knows for certain, said blurb concedes, “but Rosie’s hunch is that she’s probably a knob-head”. We decided to catch up with Rosie herself to find out more about the new show and the story behind it.

CC: Tell us about the premise to ‘Fifteen Minutes’.
RJ: When I was born, I didn’t breathe for fifteen minutes, which is a really long time! But it’s actually a short time for your whole life to change. I got cerebral palsy as a result of being starved of oxygen. The show explores who I would be if I were able bodied; I’m pretty sure that she’d be a prick!

CC: Where did this idea come from? What process did you go through in writing the piece?
RJ: All my life I have thought about ‘able-bodied Rosie’. To me, she’s this other person on a different path to me and I often wonder what she’s up to. And I realised that this concept could fit quite nicely into a show. I had already written a lot of material about my life and my disability, so the writing process was a case of comparing and contrasting it to the other Rosie’s life.

CC: How does writing a full-hour solo show compare to performing on the circuit?
RJ: I’m a big fan of a narrative, which is crucial in a full-hour solo show. The word ‘journey’ has been ruined because of over-usage, but it is just that. With 60 minutes, you have time to play with and it is fun to push yourself and do something more than just tell jokes. But the jokes are still the most important part of the show, naturally.

CC: We’re a few days into the Festival already, how has the show been going?
RJ: I’m happy so far… I’m still waiting for the anxiety to kick in. I’m trying not to get swept up in the whole Fringe. I’m not reading reviews and I’m not comparing myself to anybody else. My favourite part of the day is genuinely the hour I’m performing my show. I enjoy it so much. And as long as I enjoy it, I’m happy!

CC: Part of me feels bad asking your a question about disability because its seems like such a cliche thing to ask. Do you wish journalists like me didn’t always ask these kinds of questions in interviews?
RJ: No, not at all. My disability is an important part of who I am. Of course, it’s not all of me, but it would be bizarre to ignore it completely. I think it is so vital to talk about disability, because the more we talk about it the less of a taboo subject it becomes.

CC: Good, so can I ask you a question about disability then?! Because it feels like finally – albeit very very slowly – there are now more opportunities for performers with disabilities. Would you agree? 
RJ: Definitely, but – as you said – the progress is very slow. Almost as slow as I talk! I think Lee Ridley – aka Lost Voice Guy – winning ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ was a massive step forward in the right direction. It showed people that disabled people can be funny. But we’re not nearly there yet. 20% of people in the UK have a disability and we’re so far away from seeing that amount of disabled people in the media.

CC: Do you think that, because you are disabled, you can talk about topics and/or say things other comedians might not get away with or be comfortable with?
RJ: Yes! Definitely, definitely, definitely, and boy do I push it. It’s fun to break stereotypes. I don’t always go for the shock factor, but if it’s the right thing to do, I do go there and say things that perhaps other comedians would shy away from.

CC: You recently appeared in ‘Silent Witness’. Which do you prefer, writing, acting or stand-up?
RJ: I’m in a great position where I don’t need to choose, I love writing, acting and stand-up and I’m so lucky to be given the opportunity to do all three regularly. They all require different skills, so I never get bored. You know what, I am living the bloody dream!

CC: What else are you hoping to do and see while in Edinburgh for the Festival?
RJ: So. Many. Great. Performers. I’ve already seen some corkers – Jen Brister, Lou Sanders and Luke McQueen all have hilarious, hilarious shows. I just want to see as many as possible whilst I’m here.

CC: And looking beyond the Fringe, what projects will you be working on next?
RJ: Oh, you know, this and that! I have quite an exciting writing project I’m starting in September, so I’m chomping at the bit to get going with that. And then hopefully a few more acting roles. And then, when I’m out of my post-Edinburgh slump, I’ll get writing for my 2019 show! Bring. It. On.

Rosie Jones performed ‘Fifteen Minutes’ at Pleasance Courtyard at Edinburgh Festival 2018.

Photo: Aemen Sukkar