Trip Hazard: My Great British Adventure will make you lol, make you learn, and make you lol some more
BY CARRIE LYELL
We’ve been fans of comedian Rosie Jones for a long time, but with her new Channel 4 travel show Trip Hazard: My Great British Adventure, she’s fallen and landed right in our hearts. We caught up with her over Zoom to talk about the show and her incredible rise to fame.
Let’s talk about Trip Hazard. I loved the show.
Thank you so much. That’s great to hear. When I pitched the show, we were in the height of lockdown one, and I said, “I just want to make a show that is so positive and just has fun with everything”. So I’m glad you liked it.
It’s wonderful on multiple on levels. But most importantly, we need to talk about you and Scarlett Moffatt. Can we have a spinoff series of you two please?
[Laughs] I’d met her on another show once so I knew we got on, but something happened when we met each other again. It just worked so well. She’s so funny. We just spent the entire time laughing. It was a joy!
I can’t think about the sausage-making scene without cracking up.
Some people have said to me, “Did you break the machine for real?” And I’m like, yes! [Laughs] I was absolutely mortified.
Also, the wrestling! Do you have a wrestling name?
I think my wrestling name on the night was Big Mama [laughs]. But everyone knows that secretly, my nickname is Daddy. I am Daddy. There was another wrestler called Daddy though and I think he could take me in a fight.
Nah. Definitely not. I’ve seen your moves.
You know what, we filmed that on our last day, and it was such a celebration. I didn’t know a lot about wrestling but they are the nicest, most welcoming crowd, because really, they are all outsiders and they have all found each other. If they see someone new and keen… and a badass! They got behind me so much. I don’t know if the full atmosphere came across but it was electric and the best thing I’ve ever done.
There are so many laugh out loud moments, but the show makes you think too and pokes fun at “tick box” diversity. What’s been your experience in the TV industry as a gay, disabled woman?
It’s interesting for me to really go into because I worked in TV before I was a comedian and I’m very aware that they’re eager to tick boxes. I started open mic comedy in 2016, and to go from open mic to having my own travel show in five years is unheard of. It’s insane. I’m very aware that I do tick boxes. I am aware that my diversities, all of them, open the door for me. But it’s up to me to stay in that room and make the best of that room. I love the panel shows and doing TV shows but I love it even more when I’m asked to go on a TV show again because I think the first time, I might get on it because I’m disabled or a woman or gay, but they wouldn’t ask me back if I wasn’t good. So what I’m saying is, we won’t know if Trip Hazard is good until we get a second series [laughs].
Please. Four episodes is not enough.
I mean, I am so biased but I love it and I’m so proud of it. It’s exactly the show I went out to make so that’s all I can do. I think right now, with Covid and the world going to shit, I hope this is half an hour on a Friday night that people can just turn off from the world and really have a laugh.
As you mentioned, the last five years have been a bit of a wild ride for you. You won an Attitude Award recently, you’re nominated for a DIVA Award. You’ve got your own travel show and you have a book coming out later this year. What have been the highlights, so far?
I mean, you just listed all of them, and I’m like, “That one! That one! No, that one!” Everything is a dream come true. Performance wise, two years ago I performed at Wembley Arena and that was insane. Just to go out and say, “Hello Wembley!” That was amazing. Absolutely amazing. Mic drop. That was huge. TV wise, doing Live At The Apollo made me go, “I’m a proper comedian now! It’s official”. And then writing wise, it needs to be my book, which I just finished. When I was little, I loved books, but I never saw someone like me so to be able to really put that right and write a children’s book about disability… And it’s queer! I want to promote it as a queer children’s book but it’s a little spoiler about the end. But to write something that I needed as a little 10-year-old disabled queer girl has been so emotional. It’s hard to call that a highlight because technically it hasn’t happened yet but I’m so excited for people to read it.
In your last DIVA interview, you talked about how you found it hard to find humour in your sexuality for a long time. It’s been amazing to watch you over the years embrace it and be funnier as a result. You’re a better comedian for owning all the parts of yourself.
Thank you so much. I feel confident. I feel like I own every part of what makes me me now. I can go on stage now and talk proudly about being disabled, about being a woman, about being gay, but then I’ve gone to another level now where sometimes I go out and talk about my parents or something that isn’t about my boxes, because even though I’m so proud of my diversities, they don’t wholly define me. Actually, sometimes, I want to say, “I’m in lockdown with my mum and dad, and they’re driving me fucking crazy”. That’s nothing to do with being gay or disabled. It’s just a human experience.
On the subject of parents driving you mad, what were your family holidays like growing up? Any horror stories to share?
Actually, my family holidays were pretty idyllic. My dad is half Spanish so a lot of our holidays were to Spain to see our Spanish family who are fucking mad. [Laughs] They hate you unless you can eat a whole Octopus. It’s like an endurance test and luckily, I can eat a lot, so I would always do fine. One big holiday we had, we went to New England in America, which is famous for whale watching. As you see in Trip Hazard, I’m not a big fan of a boat. Not really. I was 13 then so I thought I knew myself. So I said, “No. I don’t want to see any whales. I feel ill. No”. My mum was like, “How about me and your brother’ll go, test it out, then you can go tomorrow?” So they went, came back and said, “It was the best day of our lives! It was literally like a lake. You’ll be fine.” [Laughs] I bet you know what’s coming! But then, that night, we had a storm. Torrential rain. When me and my dad went the next day, oh my god. Up and down, up and down. The whale watch was eight hours long. And I’m not kidding, I was being sick for seven hours and 55 minutes. I did not see a single fucking whale. All I saw was last night’s dinner in a paper bag.
No whale watching in series two then! What are some of the destinations on your bucket list?
Thinking long term, I want to go all over the world, but for series two and because of restrictions, I think we should explore more of the UK. And I’m not just saying this, but Scotland. I feel like we really missed out and we need to explore your lovely country.
Thing is Rosie, you’re actually banned. Nicola Sturgeon has heard your attempt at a Scottish accent and says you can’t come in.
[Laughs] It’s a great accent!
Your Welsh accent is pretty dodgy too, come to think of it.
Basically, I can do any accent, as long as they’ve got cerebral palsy. [Laughs]
How have you coped with the pandemic and not being able to perform live?
I literally had my calendar wiped over night. I was meant to go to Melbourne for a month, I was meant to promote the Paralympics in Tokyo. In normal times, I gig every night, without fail. I’m a workaholic. So to go from 100 to zero was devastating. But I need to recognise my privilege. Luckily I get a lot of my work in writing jobs so I’ve been able to carry those on and I had time to write my book. The rise of online gigs has been amazing. I’m at a point now where I’m gigging four times a week. It’s been more difficult for the layer down from me, who were just getting their first TV jobs, and the lower you go, the more desperate it is. I’m sad about the open mic people, the ones with full time jobs. A lot of them, who would have gone on to being full time, TV comedians, will actually give up. But the positive is, I really think we’re coming out of this in a much better place. Online gigging is a new skill and it makes comedians better at working on what they’re saying and being more intimate with the audience and actually, I can bring a lot of those skills into my real life performance. Between lockdowns, I got to go on stage a few times and it was incredible. It was like I’d been born again. I was like, “I’m back! I’m back!” This pandemic has made me so grateful that in normal times, I’m allowed to perform on a stage. It’s made me go “God, I’m lucky”. A few weeks ago I did a gig to a Covid-tested audience and I just felt so alive. It was incredible.
From a writing point of view, have you managed to find the funny in lockdown?
I’ve had to think a lot more because funny things have stopped happening to me. But I mean, I’m currently in lockdown with my mum and dad and they provide a lot of comedy gold. And, this is very new material for me, but I’ve definitely become a lot more political during lockdown. I sit there and I read Twitter and I read the news and a lot of it is sad and shocking and devastating. And a lot of it is about disability. Six in 10 people who die from Covid are disabled. If you’re disabled, you’re twice more likely to be unemployed than able-bodied people. It sounds psychotic, but I’m turning that into comedy. How can I get this shocking thing out there? Make people think? Hopefully I change the future and give people a little laugh on the way. So yeah, even though I’m stuck in my parent’s house, there’s still a lot to talk about.
That’s something you do so well in the show – turning lols into learning moments.
It’s knowing how to go, “Hello, I’m Rosie. I know who I am. I’m confident, I’m proud of being disabled, and a woman, and gay, but here’s the bare facts of what it’s like to be disabled, to be gay, to be a woman, in the UK, in 2021, during a pandemic. Enjoy me, enjoy the jokes, but remember that… it’s not all rosy.”
Trip Hazard: My Great British Adventure starts Friday 9 April at 8.30 on Channel 4. Read more from Carrie’s interview with Rosie in the May 2021 issue, on sale from 26 April. Subscribe now via linktr.ee/divamagazine.