Please tell us about your brand of comedy.  

Jess Robinson

Jess Robinson

My brand of comedy? I guess it's feel good, huge fun and sometimes a little bit off the wall. I'm an impressionist so expect familiar celeb speaking and singing voices as you've never heard them before. I'm a bit like a malfunctioning juke-box. My band and I love pairing hit songs with singers who'd never usually cover them. Julie Andrews singing All About That Bass is a classic. We've had Edith Piaf covering Bonjovi, Katherine Jenkins singing Queen and Nicki Minaj rapping nursery rhymes.

What can audiences expect from your new show?

This new show is my best yet. I'm back with my incredible live band who I adore. They're my best mates and much more involved in this years show. I'm at the prime time of 7pm in the enormous upside down purple cow. To reflect this, I've geared my show towards more of a family audience. It feels like a Saturday night entertainment show on TV, with games, big laughs, brilliant music, plenty of impressions of course, and a good deal of audience involvement. It's pure escapism. NO POLITICS. Just fun, warmth, laughs and music. It's a celebratory show and I'm so excited.

Which comedians have been your biggest influence since you decided this was your path?

With this show, I'd have to describe myself as the impressions version of Alex Horne and the Horne Section crossed with Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway.

 Fellow impressionists; Jon Culshaw, Debra Stephenson, Rory Bremner and Alistair McGowan have all been very supportive to me during my career. The latter two particularly so in the last couple of years after we all met in Edinburgh. Vic and Bob’s madness has definitely filtered through since I saw them on shooting stars when I was a kid. In terms of my contemporaries, I think Pappy's Fun Club are so much fun. I LOVE the stand up of Ellie Taylor and the brilliant Robin Morgan. I can’t wait to catch their shows at the Fringe.

 What random things make you laugh in everyday life?

The ridiculous situations I manage to get myself into on a daily basis. I'm so clumsy. I'm forever tripping over or putting my foot in it (literally) or walking around with spinach in my teeth or my skirt tucked in my pants... It's actually my friends' horror at this that really makes me giggle. They're always so mortified on my behalf. It doesn't really bother me. 

Please tell us about your best and worst moment on stage so far?

Hmmm, my best and worst moment on stage? OK, Britain's got talent has to be one of the best and definitely the most terrifying. Getting a huge standing ovation from 2500 people and the judges at The Royal Palladium in London was just incredible. It practically knocked me off my feet. My appearance has opened doors to so many exciting TV, radio and live shows. The opportunity to show fifteen million viewers even just two minutes of my act has been invaluable. It was a terrifying, stressful and crazy rollercoaster adventure though. I've grown balls of steel and compared to that, every other gig feels like a breeze now. But NOTHING beats the warm Edinburgh Festival audiences. Now I get to bring my best show yet to an even bigger venue with my brilliant band. The festival is where I crafted my act and where I cut my teeth. Edinburgh feels like home and now I’m back doing what I love

Do you still get nervous when you do a gig?

YES. But again, I don't think anything will top the nerves that came with Britain's Got Talent. Before I went out onto that stage, I heard the audience chanting 'off! off! off! off!' for the three contestants before me. The judges were really grumpy and the buzzers really are deafening. I'll be nervous before my run in Edinburgh to. and before each show I know I'll get butterflies. But that's cos I want to do a great job. I think if I stopped getting nervous or excited, it'd mean I didn't care. And then I'd seriously have to think about a career change. As it is going out and using the adrenaline and entertaining people it the best feeling ever.

Why is Edinburgh Fringe Festival such a great platform for comedians?

The best (and worst) performers descend every year from all corners of the globe to present their weird and wonderful and hilarious and beautiful shows. There’s a real camaraderie between all the acts. Every year feels like a reunion of old friends. It a huge opportunity to make new friends, new fans, network, get seen by all industry professionals, try out material and hone your skills. You can see things here that you scarcely thought possible. It’s a proper cultural melting pot of comedy and I LOVE it.

Who are you looking forward to seeing at the Fringe?  

I LOVE the stand up of Ellie Taylor and the brilliant Robin Morgan who has the Radio 4 writing bursary this year.  I can’t wait to catch their shows at the Fringe. They're both very funny, have great personalities they’re very fresh and have something a bit different to say. Both shows will be such a treat.

What is your advice to aspiring comedians?

Do what YOU believe in and what makes YOU proud. Don't try and be something you're not, or tell the jokes or develop your act to fit into someone else's mould. It'll never make you truly happy. You have to believe in yourself and what you do just enough to be able to keep going when times are tough. Compromise, being open to ideas, working with people and, in turn, being lovely to work with is SO important. But it can be a bit difficult to retain your integrity sometimes. Surround yourself with good people who can be pragmatic and have your best interests at heart. 

Blimey! Who knew comedy was such a serious business?!

 What is the oddest heckle you've ever received?

A couple of weeks ago I was trying out my new show. My 101 year old grandma was sat next to mum in the front row.  For ages the tech guy couldn't understand which speaker the incessant squealing feedback was coming from until, at last, we all realised it was grandma's hearing aids ringing.  It didn't stop there though. Every time I did a new voice she'd lean over to mum and say 'WHO's THAT?' - (Not really what an impressionist wants to hear). My mum would shout back things like, 'It's Nicki Minaj mum, she's a very modern rapper', or 'Judy Garland - you like her mum, remember from THE WIZARD OF OZ?... This distracting double act continued sporadically for 45 minutes, until (during a quiet Amy Winehouse tribute), grandma finally shouted... "But who IS that?" Mother responded, "OH! It's Jessie, mum. She's Your GRAND DAUGHTER". To which grandma replied "... LOAD OF RUBBISH!"

What is next for you?

I'm about to film a new ITV pilot hosted by funnyman Alexander Armstrong. The Imitation Game is a comedy panel show with a celebrity twist. It features top impressionists Rory Bremner and Debra Stephenson together with rising star Luke Kempner and ... me! We're challenged to perform our impersonations in a series of witty rounds and hilarious games. I'm so looking forward to this... and there's a big musical element which is right up my street.

Other than that, Radio 4 shows, other TV and Radio. And in the Spring I'm taking my full show on tour around the UK. Exciting times ahead!!

Jess Robinson’s new show ‘Unravelled!’ is at the Underbelly – Purple Cow for the month of August for tickets go to www.edringe.com

Recommended Articles