Senior & Mature Magazine
The Tall Lady Who Keeps You Laughing at Yourself
by Janice Doyle,
Senior & Mature Magazine
“Keep ‘em laughing” is her mantra as a speaker, and she doesn’t disappoint. When she was 12 years old and already 6’2” tall, Jeanne Robertson’s parents helped her use a sense of humor to her advantage if people spoke of her height, and now she travels the country helping people look at their lives with humor. A real sense of humor, according to Jeanne, means being able to accept things you can’t change and laugh at yourself.

Now 67, many of the 1963 Miss North Carolina’s stories are about aging, and it works just fine because she always pokes fun at herself first. She told this story: “We had two Miss North Carolinas one year recently. At the end of the year neither was allowed to crown the next year’s queen. The pageant director called and asked me to do it, and I said, ‘At my age?’ Then I laughed and said the new one would be the first queen to get slapped in the face by arm flab as the crown was placed.”

They were serious about wanting her, however, and she reminded them that she’d already told several stories about the year’s difficulties. The director said, “Yes, I know, but we know you wouldn’t hurt us.”

Jeanne Robertson
And that’s the thing. Her humor never hurts anyone, and there are never four-letter words or off-color jokes.

After a lifetime of professional speaking and numerous state and national honors, she remains one of the country’s most popular, in-demand humorists.

“One of my philosophies,” she said, “is that you can develop and learn to have a sense of humor just like you can learn to put the fork on the left when you’re setting a table.”

She encourages grandparents to say to their grandchildren: “Tell me something funny that happened today.” Children get an awareness of funny things and learn that it’s all right to laugh. If we have a sense of humor, she says, “The grandchildren want to be with us. If you’re always in the stern grandparent role they don’t want to be with you.”

She’s grandmother to two boys, ages 11 and 16, and she’s helping them see the humor in everyday life. At a university basketball game recently, the lady singing the national anthem was “off” in pitch the whole song. The boys “cut their eyes at me and I cut my eyes at them. Their shoulders started shaking and so did mine. I like that rather than being the grandmother who would say ‘Now, don’t laugh. That’s not funny.’”

But she made sure the boys knew she wouldn’t use the incident in a speech because it would hurt the singer.

Computers are a way to keep in touch with your grandchildren, sure. But Jeanne says, “Mostly I just call them and say ‘tell me something funny. I’m on the road and I need a laugh.’ I’m still making that connection.”

She said she and her husband (“Left Brain,” age 73) are “hurting in places, and we try our best to make sure we accept what we can’t change and find the humor about it. I’m living what I’m telling!”

Her advice for seniors is to “have a humor buddy, somebody that asks you what’s funny. If you’re going to lunch and know you have to tell something funny, it keeps you looking for it.”

The place to look for humor is March 1 at 2 p.m. in Branscomb Memorial Auditorium in Lakeland when Jeanne Robertson will be in “Double Funny w/Carl Hurley.” Call 1-800-955-4746 for $33 tickets. Group rates available.

Jeanne has six humor DVDs, is heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio’s Family Comedy Channels and has many YouTube clips to enjoy.