Rosie Jones review: A big deal with or without that Greta Thunberg gag

Bruce Dessau

As Rosie Jones says in Backward, she is becoming a “big deal”. Though not necessarily for the reason she mentions. She says she has appeared increasingly regularly on television, but her profile recently soared when her controversial joke about Greta Thunberg on Channel 4’s The Last Leg prompted complaints to Ofcom.

The gag, to rerun it euphemistically, was that the climate activist should be dating and drinking alcohol like a typical 16-year-old. Jones, who has cerebral palsy, employed lewder language than that onscreen and while she does not repeat the line onstage it exemplifies her style — mischievous, crude and uncensored.

In her show Jones employs this approach to recall momentous events in a rollercoaster year. Her head was injured in a fall in Poundland, her heart broken by an affair. Alongside ribald ruminations her set is neatly peppered with examples of how society often treats disability — by being patronising or downright bigoted. The humour comes from the juxtaposition of sweet smile and foul mouth. The Bridlington-born stand-up constantly says things that would usually be deemed to be inappropriate and she knows it. She calls herself a triple threat — “disabled, gay...and a prick”.

Sometimes you can see where a story is heading, yet at her best the pay-offs come out of the blue. When this technique works, as in her anecdote about encountering intolerance on a flight — a different type of snake on a plane — it is fantastic. Elsewhere it can be too predictable.

This is a strong if uneven show, with a potent climax that packs a memorable emotional punch. Jones is clearly destined to be a bigger deal soon for the right reasons.

Until January 25 (020 7478 0100, sohotheatre.com)