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Other speakers might be as witty as Jeanne Robertson, and maybe even as tall — barefooted with her hair “mashed down,” she’s 6 feet, 2 inches in her size 11B stocking feet.
But audiences will be hard-pressed to find another orator so adept at turning personal experiences into funny material that does more than just elicit laughter. This Miss Congeniality winner in the Miss America Pageant — that was “yearrrrrrrrrrrs ago,” Robertson says — uses her down-home Southern drawl to leave audiences laughing ... and thinking about her message.
Robertson will entertain local audiences when she makes a stop at Bristol’s Paramount Center for the Arts on Monday, Nov. 21. Show time is 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $34 for adults, $30 for seniors and $24 for groups of eight or more. All tickets are reserved seating.
Robertson reached her 6-foot-2 stature at age 13 — perhaps an indication of a future speaking career that would soar to great heights.
No, professional speaking might not have been predicted for Robertson as a seventhgrader in Graham, N.C., when and where she would have been voted most likely to make the basketball team and least likely to be a contestant in the Miss America Pageant. She did make the team — averaging more than 30 points per game in her junior and senior years — but as Miss North Carolina 1963 she also competed in the Miss America Pageant, where she was named Miss Congeniality.
It was her participation in and perhaps even her losing of the Miss America title that turned Robertson’s life into a succession of events that led her to become one of the funniest, busiest and most popular professional speakers in America today. Because she was asked to speak every day as Miss North Carolina, Robertson traveled her native state for a year speaking at pageants and addressing civic clubs and corporations. When that time was over, she found that people were willing to pay her to come and address their groups and conventions.
At that point, Robertson still viewed speaking as a way to make a little money while continuing her education. She received her degree at Auburn University and taught physical education in high school and college, a career she enjoyed for nine years. Meanwhile, requests continued to pour in for her to speak. In 1976, she stopped teaching and entered professional speaking full time.
In addition to a full speaking schedule year after year, Robertson has been awarded every top honor and designation in her profession, including the Certified Speaking Professional designation in 1980 and induction into the CPAE Speaker Hall Of Fame in 1981. A member of NSA/Carolinas, she served as president of the National Speakers Association in 1985. In 1989, she became the first woman to receive that association’s most cherished honor, the Cavett Award. The Cavett is awarded annually to one member “whose accomplishments, integrity and reputation are a credit to NSA and the speaking profession.”
Toastmasters International named Robertson the recipient of its 1998 Golden Gavel Award, given annually to one individual for accomplishments in leadership and communications. She is the only female professional speaker who has received this honor.
Robertson has produced six humor DVDs and CDs and written three books on humor — “Humor: The Magic of Genie,” “Mayberry Humor Across the USA” and “Don’t Let the Funny Stuff Get Away.”
She can be heard on SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s Family Comedy and Blue Collar Comedy channels.
For tickets to her show at the Paramount, call (423) 274-8920 or visit www.theparamount? center.com? . To find out more about Robertson, check out her Web site at www.jeannerobert? son.com? .