Comedian and writer Rosie Jones brought us the likes of The Last Leg, 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, and even an episode of Sex Education, and she’s been making us LOL with her stand up shows for three years. We chatted with Rosie about being CALM’s newest Ambassador, the mental health impact of having a disability, and what she does when she’s feeling a bit low.
After Uni, Rosie got a job in television. She had loads of fun working behind the camera as a researcher, but became more and more frustrated with the lack of diverse comedians on TV. And so, naturally, she took things into her own hands and started doing stand up.
“I’ve been a full time funny person for about three years now. I definitely have imposter syndrome, and I’m still convinced that one day everybody will realise that I am a terrible comedian and I will have to go back to my old job!”
There’s little chance of that though, as she’s nabbed her own travel show on Channel 4. “It’s going to be a bit bonkers, full of energy and enthusiasm. I’m going on a real adventure of the UK and I am not going to hold back. I know it’s a bit cliché to say, but expect the unexpected! I’m hoping it will be the most positive and joyful travel show anybody has ever seen.”
Another new gig Rosie has taken on is joining #TeamCALM. She hopes that becoming an ambassador will give her the chance to help people just like CALM’s services do: “I think in life it’s very easy to get tunnel vision and just become obsessed with your own world and what you’re doing. Life is confusing and difficult at the best of times and CALM is a charity that puts people first and makes people’s lives better.”
And Rosie’s no stranger to mental health struggles, her ataxic cerebral palsy means she has mobility problems and slow speech, all of which can have an impact on her own mental wellbeing.
“Some people assume I have an intellectual disability, so they either patronise me or feel uncomfortable around me. Cracking a joke about my disability not only diffuses an awkward situation but it’s also a quick way to let the person know that I am just like them, and there’s no need to act differently around me just because I have a physical disability.”
But it’s not always as easy as that. Rosie admits that having to have a thick skin can at times take a toll on her mental health. At thirty years old, she’s only just started to really think about how she can be kinder to herself:
“I am a person who wants to go out into the world and say, ‘Hey! I’m disabled but don’t you dare feel sorry for me, because I love being disabled and I love being me!’ Whilst that statement is true 98% of the time, I’ve recently stopped punishing myself when I don’t love being disabled, and I don’t love being me. Sometimes it’s just a pain in the arse being disabled, and it makes me sad.”
Rosie also says she struggled with being gay growing up, in large part because of a lack of representation – there was nobody in TV or radio that looked or sounded like her. “I think, for a long time, I didn’t feel valid. That sounds sadder than the reality, don’t worry! I was very happy growing up; I had great friends and a wonderful family, so I just made peace with the fact that love and sex simply wasn’t an option for me. The topic of disability and sex always seemed to be a taboo subject and I never felt like I wanted to rock the boat even more and say that not only was I disabled, I was gay too!! That, somehow, felt too different.”
So there was a “huge sense of relief ” when she came to terms with her sexuality. “It felt like a weight off my shoulders and I didn’t have to keep a secret anymore; I could just be myself.”
Thankfully she can believes that representation is definitely improving, especially when it comes to intersectionality. “people no longer just have to fit into one ‘box’, and that’s great. I finally feel valid – I can disabled AND gay, but, at the same time, I can also just be Rosie.”
And when she does feel a bit shit? Talking and lasagne – if there was ever a better combination.
“I’m a big talker, and I am so lucky to have a brilliant group of friends that I can ring up if I am ever low. My big problem is I sometimes work a bit too hard, and I forget to turn off (yes, I am writing this at 10pm on a Sunday). So I have a few friends who ring me up every now and then and say, ‘ROSIE! Come to mine! I’ve made lasagne and chips!’.
“Aside from that, I love a jigsaw puzzle…yes, I am an eighty year old woman! I find that puzzles help me switch off from life though, for a bit, and that’s really helpful.”
Other than YouTubing loads of Rosie Jones’ hilarious stand-up, you can keep up with her on Twitter for updates on her new show, which is expected to air in 2021.
Need support? Worried about someone? CALM’s helpline and webchat are open daily 5pm-midnight. Get access here.
Have you been affected by suicide? The Support After Suicide Partnership is a hub for anyone bereaved or affected by suicide, where you can find emotional and practical support.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article or in the comments below, are not those held by CALM or its Trustees unless stated, and liability cannot be accepted for such comments. We encourage friendly and constructive debate, but please don't share personal contact details when commenting and exercise caution when considering any advice offered by others. We don’t allow abusive, offensive or inappropriate comments or comments that could be interpreted as libellous, defamatory or commercial and we will remove these without warning as and when we find them.