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Robertson brings funny business to Perot




By: Aaron Brand - Texarkana Gazette

When Jeanne Robertson talks about her career, she’s quick to point out she’s a humorist, not a comedienne.

Robertson, 71 and a former Miss North Carolina, presents her one-woman show at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13, at the Perot Theatre in Texarkana. Her appearance is part of the Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council’s Perot Theatre series.

She’s someone whose humor is shared through storytelling. “The humorist weaves a longer story,” she said, noting she presents the kind of show you can bring the whole family to see—“you can bring your mother, you can bring your teenagers.”

Sure, these stories may be embellished or stretched a bit, but they’re true and really happened. “I just try to tell stories that I’ve seen in my life,” Robertson says.

In a sense, Robertson turned a year spent as Miss North Carolina into a longtime career. As an Auburn student, she entered the pageant and won during her junior year. Being Miss North Carolina necessitated she put education on hold and, ultimately, give more than 500 speeches during her tenure.

“I found out within about a week that I could make people laugh,” she recalled. She got lots of invitations to talk because she was so good at it.

“It was because I was funny and the word spread that I could cut the ribbon or speak at your breakfast,” Robertson said.
Following her tenure as Miss North Carolina, she embarked on a satisfying career as a professional speaker. “I just never looked back,” she said. Then about five years ago she “went viral” on YouTube, as she put it, which inspired people to tell her she could sell tickets for a theater show. And she did.

Satellite radio experience and that Internet exposure brought her to a younger audience. Her work has grown, combining professional speaking engagements with theater shows—she did 101 shows last year, roughly split evenly between each type of engagement.
“All of these shows came quickly, and they’re really wonderful,” she said.

Robertson travels a little more than 20 days out of the month. She doesn’t tour so much as she flies in and out for a show, then heads home. This traveling provides her with new material. She has her antenna out while on the road.

In September, she filmed her eighth DVD, and in the past year-and-a-half she’s performed at the Grand Ole Opry. (“I do not wear a funny hat with a tag,” she quips.) She’s busy, but she believes in storytelling and its ability to connect with people.

She’s quick to tell people they, too, have stories to tell just as she does. She encourages people to get them down and share them.
Robertson’s humor doesn’t employ curse words. She strives to be funny while being clever. “It just makes you feel so good when you see everybody coming together and laughing at nobody’s expense,” she says.

She’s fortunate, she knows, that she’s turned a hobby into a career that makes people laugh. “Maybe, there’s just some little small chance people will look at how much we have in common” rather than what makes us different, she says.

Though she’s spoken in Texarkana before, she did so for private functions. This will be her first time performing at a ticketed show here, which she’s looking forward to doing.

“I don’t think I’ll need an interpreter for my accent,” Robertson said. Her performance should last about an-hour-and-a-half.
Her trips here have even provided funny material, she says, which she tried out recently on an audience. She’s looking forward to sharing it here.

“I’m ready to do it in Texarkana,” said Robertson, who adds that she’ll be in the lobby before and after the show to meet and greet folks. “It’s all part of my fun evening at the Perot Theatre.”

(Tickets: $45, $40 and $35. Half-priced student discounts in the balcony. More info and tickets: TRAHC.org and 903-792-4992.)
Published by Texarkana Gazette: 01/30/2015


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