Rosie Jones: Backward

We first encounter the witty Yorkshire whirlwind that is Rosie Jones, as she bops along to what we assume is a silent disco, as she is adorned with massive red headphones. The first few moments set the tone for what will be an hour of edgy, provocative one-liners and anecdotes showcasing Jones’ skill at brash and unapologetic comedy.

An hour of edgy, provocative one-liners and anecdotes

Jones gives us a whistle stop tour of the accolades she’s received, including an award for being "inspirational". Jones slightly resents this, reasoning that she doesn’t want to be called inspirational "just for leaving the house". Similarly, she’s been recognised as being "remarkable" though she confesses that the most remarkable feat she’s accomplished to date is masturbating for eight hours straight to Killing Eve. The audience laugh nervously as she discusses the career options she has been excluded from due to her disability and we are conflicted as we feel tricked into laughing about topics such as ‘blacking up’ for a diversity award.

There’s a sentimental layer to Jones’ performance as she narrates how she navigates a world where difference isn’t always accepted. Her story of the lady on the plane is both heartbreaking and uplifting – we applaud Jones for ‘taking no shit’ but are also disappointed that this is part of her daily experience. In this regard, she wins the audience over with a show that’s both impassioned and tremendously amusing.

Elements of Jones’ performance comes across as uncomfortably sexualised and I challenged myself on whether I felt this because of her disability or because of her content. I landed on the latter because any comic whether male, female, gender neutral, gay, straight, disabled or not – who categorised women as either "snacks" or "main courses" – will always land uncomfortably because it’s 2019. Also Jones is better than that; she exhibits moments of absolute genius that have the whole audience in rapture but then there are also moments which flop hideously.

Jones has a natural talent for both comedic timing and working an audience. The story of the lesbian paramedics doesn’t seem to come to any natural conclusion other than to reference that she fell in Poundland and that the paramedics appeared to be lesbians. Meanwhile the story of Jones’ foray in to a relationship with a married woman takes a long time to get to the punchline and is ultimately more tragic than amusing, an end result which I’m positive wasn’t what Jones was pitching for.

With a bit more finesse, this show will be phenomenal and evening out the tone of the pathos and humour will elevate the performance substantially. It’s a show that should definitely be seen as Rosie Jones is going places.

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The Blurb

After a sell-out debut hour Rosie "triple threat" Jones returns to the Fringe with a big question: am I backwards, or are they? She explores the hilarious difficulties of navigating the world whilst being the only disabled, gay, northern comedian with quite the penchant for sexual aggression. Rosie's second hour is certain to be a hit. 'Smart, mischievous, laugh-out-loud funny' ( 'Genuinely masterful' (Skinny).

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