“If you need to trample on the oppressed for a laugh you’re a shit comedian.” | Bobbie Jones talks queerness, confidence and safe space comedy

Tell us about you/your act.

I honestly never know how to describe my act. When I was depressed a few years ago it was incredibly deadpan and dark; now that I have realised that I am queer, my comedy centres less around how shit I am at flirting with boys and more about LGBTQ* stuff.

If I really wanted to pin my style down it would be a surreal mix of observational, word play and creative writing – hey, those two creative writing degrees have got to count somehow right?

How did you get into comedy?

I joined the Birmingham Footnotes Comedy Society as a fresher at the University of Birmingham. It took me like 3 months to actually speak up in the weekly comedy meetings, and then I just about got onto the committee as the Press and Publicity officer at the end of the year. Once I was on the committee I wanted to prove my worth as I felt like a worthless working class trash bag so I started stand up, and it was the best decision I ever made. 

What’s the best gig you’ve ever had?

2016 Scottish Student Comedy Awards. The footage is online, check it out. I have had very good gigs since 2016, but that is the only gig I can provide evidence for. 

You’ve described your comedic style as “dad jokes and daddy issues”. What does that mean for you?

Before he passed away, my Dad was very supportive of my stand up. He actually planted the seed of me becoming a comedian when I was like 12 or 13, because when I got upset about something I would have a proper rant about it, and that would make my Dad laugh. One time he actually said ‘bab you should really consider stand up’. I reckon I internalised that.

Daddy issues come from my love for Lana Del Rey. She has an old song called ‘You Can Be The Boss’- the opening of which is ‘You Can Be The Boss Daddy You Can Be The Boss’. It’s pretty sick.

What’s your favourite dad joke?

What operation do lesbians need in order to have sex? 

A strapadictomy. (problematic, but one of my Dad’s jokes)

What’s your favourite thing about working in comedy?

Getting to know other like minded people who rely on the laughter of an audience to secure their self worth (AKA getting to know other like minded people). Also, if I am permitted another favourite thing, just the excitement and exhilaration of having a gig and hopefully getting that post-good-gig afterflush. 

Who is your favourite comedian we’ve never heard of?

You have probably heard of them all but here is a list anyway – Mae Martin, Felicity Ward, Victoria Wood, Sofie Hagen.

What challenges have you faced working in comedy?

I have been spoken down to quite severely by some male comedians, most of whom were middle class, but then again I have noticed some cliquey, bullyish behaviour from some female comedians as well. Trying to befriend other comedians can be hard if you feel like they perceive you as a threat. There can be a nasty cut-throat sort of attitude with some comedians. I know that this attitude can advance your career and give you opportunities, but it doesn’t make you likeable.

How do you think that comedy as an industry can better address these issues?

While I do experience some challenges as a queer, female, working class comedian*, I am also very aware that I have a great deal of privilege as I am white, cisgender, non-disabled and neurotypical. It goes without saying that there needs to be more comedy opportunities for POC, trans, non binary, disabled and neurodiverse people.

Also comedians who punch down at marginalised groups for a cheap joke need to be challenged. If you need to trample on the oppressed just to squeeze a laugh out of the audience then you’re a shit comedian.

*In all honesty my class is debatable as I have attended two red brick universities. Education is also a privilege. My upbringing and immediate family circumstances were/are very working class, as we relied heavily on my Dad’s disability benefits – this experience has massively impacted my world view. 

What appealed to you about being part of a show like Blizzard?

Blizzard gives a platform for performers who would otherwise be marginalised, or treated as a ‘token’ by many comedy promoters in the circuit. It is very important to have a safe space for performers and audience, especially in comedy where human suffering can be treated as fuel for cheap jokes. Plus it’s an anxiety safe space, and that’s amazing. 

Apart from appearing at Blizzard, what have you got coming up that we should look out for?

I am doing a 30 minute spot at Keighley Pride on the 14th September, plus I am performing at a gig called What a Nice Night in Birmingham on the 24th October. 

I am considering taking a show up to Edinburgh next year if I get my shit together. It’s either going to be a general comedy show from myself, a compilation show or if I put my big girl pants on and feel super brave I may do a show dedicated to my Dad. Watch this space, I suppose. 

Bobbie is joining us for our birthday livestream as a judge for our (No) Money in the Bank fan fiction writing competition on Monday 27th April.

Find out more here.

Donate to our fundraiser for Mustard Tree here.

Bobbie is performing at Blizzard on Monday 30th September.

You can keep up with other stuff Bobbie is doing by following her on Twitter and Instagram.

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