When Shepherd's Center of Oakton-Vienna set out to expand their fall fundraiser to a larger audience, they could only hope for the kind of turn out Jeanne Robertson attracted.
In SCOV's most successful fundraiser to date, a sold-out crowd of 1,200 people showed up to the Vienna Presbyterian Church to see humorist Robertson put on a show. The event raised more than $25,000 for SCOV.
Robertson did not disappoint. She addressed the crowd with the ease of simply telling the audience real-life stories that put her captive audience in hysterics throughout the show. She mixed old bits some of her fans may have seen through YouTube clips with new ones to be found in her seventh DVD to be released in November.
"When people see my show, I want them to hear my stories and say, 'The same thing happened to me,'" she said.
Robertson is relatively new to the theater tour scene. For her 48 years in the business, she has largely stayed within the convention and corporate arena. Embracing technology, Robertson and her team decided to put clips of her show on YouTube. Her YouTube channel went viral, and is now approaching 14 million views. She also lends her talents daily on Sirius/XM Radio’s Family Comedy Channel.
The clips allowed the general public to become familiar with Robertson, which led them to begin inquiring about upcoming shows.
"So now, a 68-year-old grandmother who has never worked in a comedy club, I have booked an entire comedy tour nationwide," Robertson said.
Long ago, Robertson and her husband began marketing her work toward older people because "they just don't want to hear off-color words and off-color stories."
"Sirius/XM and YouTube took it down two or three decades," she said. "I never tried to take my talent into comedy clubs and talk to 25-year-olds. ... But now I've got grandparents and parents and children all coming to the shows together."
SCOV used a large donation to book Robertson, then Robertson's popularity drew people from all over the country excited to have a chance to see her in person.
Her merchandise was available for purchase after the show, and Robertson donated $5 of every sale to SCOV.
"She was fantastic. We had a wonderful turnout and Jeanne was well-received, said Michelle Scott, director of SCOV. "She was able to connect with the crowd and we're getting comments on Facebook and through email about how wonderful the show was."