Poking fun and being funny are two different things. Humorist Jeanne Robertson aims for the latter.
“I try not to poke fun at anybody. There are several differences between a humorist and a comedian. A comedian’s main goal is to make people laugh, but it doesn’t matter if people are offended. They usually perform in comedy clubs. A humorist wants you to laugh but also wants to illustrate a point.”
On Monday, Robertson returns to Columbus for the third time since the fall. She’ll get you to laugh — and for a cause: The luncheon she keynotes at Wynn-brook Baptist Church is a benefit for Bridges Learning Center, which is for autistic children.
Her visit here last year was to benefit breast cancer awareness; and she returned last month, with fellow humorist Carl Hurley, for a convention of Motorcoachers.
Now 66, she’s now in her 48th year getting paid for speeches.
Robertson got her start about 50 years ago when her uncle in Auburn asked her to play her ukulele at his Rotary Club meeting. “Can you play some of those funny songs?” he said. She did, and she told some funny stories in between. “I loved hearing them laugh,” she recalled.
She’s 6’2”, standing “barefooted with her hair ‘mashed down,’ ” according to her Web site. She also wears a size 11 shoe.
A former Miss Congeniality in a Miss America Pageant, she was named the 2001 North Carolinian of the Year by the North Carolina Press Association.
She makes her home in North Carolina with her husband, Jerry, who played basketball for Duke University. Jerry has taken on the nickname Left Brain, or “LB.” (She’s Right Brain.) “He’s so totally supportive of what I do, but he cannot take my (booking) calls. He’d say, ‘Sure, she can take the red eye from Alaska to Florida.’ He does all the computer stuff and the bank deposits.” She keeps him away from the phone. He prefers the golf course.
She takes about 60 days off a year.
The recession has not slowed down Robertson’s business. She does a fair amount of corporate work, speaking in front of people in corporate gatherings. She said ’09 was her best year to date. Robertson credits technology, including YouTube and satellite radio, for spreading the word.
“I’m very grateful,” said Robertson, the past president of the National Speakers Association. “They say, ‘Our people just need to laugh. They’re doing all they can do. Can you come here and get us laughing again?’ ”
Allison Kennedy, reporter, can be contacted at 706-576-6237