How excited are you that Rosie Jones's Disability Comedy Extravaganza has returned?
I am so excited because it was such a success last time and, off the back of the event, a lot of the comedians were signed by agents and booked for other shows. This is why I do what I do! When I was growing up I never saw anyone like me on TV, never mind somebody like me performing comedy.
When I reached the lovely level of success I have now - and I thank the industry for giving me a spot on every panel show going - it was super important to blow everyone's minds by pointing out I'm not the only stand-up comedian with a disability. When UKTV asked if I wanted to make a show, I replied, "Abso-bloody-lutely! Can we showcase other disabled talent?"
Whether it's gender, race, sexuality or ability, we have to see the whole country and its wonderful diversity. For many people in this line-up it's their first TV gig, which is a huge deal. If I do my job right, it'll be such a warm and friendly start to their TV careers.
How does watching newcomers make their first leap to TV make you feel?
I feel so proud to be able to give them that opportunity and I know they'll all be brilliant. To have a show like this is revolutionary, and it would have been invaluable when I was starting out as a comedian. I don't think we would have seen something remotely like this on telly even five years ago. For UKTV, and TV in general, to be sitting up and encouraging more disabled talent is an amazing sign.
I'm the biggest narcissist there is and, I'm such a narcissist, I put my name in the show's title - but I'm here to simply introduce the audience to brilliant new comedians. If I do my job properly you'll watch the show and forget I was even in it, because I want
it to be about the new comics.
But will your narcissism allow the idea of people forgetting who hosted Rosie Jones's Disability Comedy Extravaganza?
I'm actually a part-time narcissist. I'm having a day off today, so I'll allow it.
What did you make of the response to the first RJDCE?
Social media, as you know, can be quite negative at times, but I was so pleased with the positive feedback and how a lot of disabled people were grateful to see themselves on TV. The feedback was great.
Was there a disabled comedian you grew up watching?
There wasn't really anyone. In my later teenage years there was Francesca Martinez, who was brilliant, but apart from having cerebral palsy I don't have a lot in common with her. If you've ever seen ten seconds of my act you know I'm quite a rude, sweary, sexual, and boundary-pushing dickhead.
In terms of the style I wanted to pursue in comedy there wasn't anyone I looked up to and thought, "I could do that". Billy Connolly, Victoria Wood and Tig Notaro are my comedy heroes and even though they're all non-disabled, their use of rhythm appealed to me.
There's a musicality to their style and they take their time to draw people in - because I speak slowly I thought I needed to draw people in and then surprise them in the way they do. If my stand-up was a driving lesson, you'd be getting whiplash all over.
What sort of night do people have ahead of them when they watch this?
I've seen all of the acts and there's such a variety. They're all great and throughout the night there's such a difference in material and styles. Here's the point - disability is not a personality trait. Everyone on the bill has a disability but, as you'll see, you couldn't assemble a more varied group of voices and content. Not every act might be for you but, for me, that subjectivity is the beauty of comedy.
What would an event like this have meant to you when you were an aspiring comic?
To have watched a show like this would have saved me about 10 years of not being sure what I wanted to do. The comedians I saw on TV when I was growing up were all quite masculine, fast-talking, aggressive, and non-disabled; these were traits I couldn't relate to. If I could have watched this, I would have felt able to follow the same career path as these comedians.
I'm so happy because at 99% of comedy gigs I'm "The Disabled One", so it's lovely to have a night where we're all "The Disabled One".
Do you have any advice for them?
Yes - don't f*** it up. Don't f*** it up or else I'll beat the s*** out of them.
No, I'd say they should be themselves, don't be too nervous, and don't let the event get into their head. Enjoy the night and have a lovely time.
How much do you enjoy being able to combine a return to stand-up with TV?
I'm very greedy - I'm an actor, comedian, presenter, children's author, and all-round f****** legend, which means I don't have as much time to perform as I used to. Stand-up is my first love and performing feels like coming home. There is nothing quite like having that immediate response from an audience, and it moves my heart and soul like nothing else.
Is anyone here even more outrageous or envelope pushing than you?