Female comics who might have been considered over the hill at 50 years old, are now doing over the top box office. No joke.
Last Saturday night, I went to see the very elegant and funny Jeanne Robertson, from North Carolina, playing the classy Wilshire Ebell Theater in Beverly Hills, California. She is on her sold-out comedy tour across the US. (Did I mention that she is 67 years old?!)
You might not have heard of this hilarious 6'2', professional speaker turned comedian. She has never been on Leno, Letterman, or Conan. She's never played a comedy club, nor does she have a Hollywood agent, and she's not related to Charlie Sheen. Keep reading -- and you might learn about how new Internet markets can help older comics.
Jeanne started her career as Miss North Carolina, where she found herself doing 500 speeches a year. She continued performing as a professional speaker with a message about finding the funny in every day life. And from her height of 6' 2" she has a great view of the comedy that is all around us in a delightful Southern drawl.
"A woman in a grocery store said to me, 'You're not over six feet tall.'
I jokingly told her, 'Well actually I'm 5'14'
She said, 'I knew you weren't over six feet tall!'"
Many of her stories include her husband, who she refers to as "Left Brain." A fan uploaded a video of her story of Left Brain trying to understand naked bungee jumping -- and it caught on big. Within a few months, the YouTube video entitled "Don't Bungee Jump Naked" accumulated over three million hits.
That's when a promoter called Jeanne and organized a first class concert tour based on the cities that had the most YouTube clicks. Now, approaching 70 years old, Jeanne has a huge following of devoted baby boomer groupies flocking to see her live. Matter of fact, after her show I wanted to say hello ... but I couldn't get to her because she was surrounded by rabid fans trying to get her autograph as if she were Lady Gaga.
Hollywood has been slow to catch on to the money to be made in this untapped market. After all, in the US, there are more women over 50 years old than any other age group. Yet, when was the last time you heard a menopause joke on Leno?
But, here's the good news: because of this absence on TV, people over 50 are willing to plunk down $35 a ticket to see what we can't see on TV: the stories of our lives. And in Jeanne Robertson's hands, they are told with the skills of someone who has spent plenty of time honing her craft.
Jeanne Robertson will be performing in Tampa on Friday, November 4th and in Orlando on Saturday, November 5th. You can get tickets here. I'll also be doing a teleseminar with Jeanne this October. Stay tuned!