Jess Robinson: The Jess Robinson Experience

JessRobinson-profile-mobileHave you ever been to a show where you can’t help smiling throughout? That’s The Jess Robinson Experience in a nutshell. With enough energy to charge her many stage lights, Jess Robinson doesn’t give the audience a chance to relax in this upbeat, lively, and polished performance. Joined by her fantastically-named band, ‘Jessington World of Adventures’, Robinson showcases her extraordinary vocal talents and catalogue of impressions as an introduction to her backstory.

Judy Garland, Lily Allen, Stacey Solomon and Cheryl Cole are amongst the last people I would expect to be joined by Theresa May on stage, but I’m forever grateful to Robinson’s vocal ability for making it happen. Gratitude can be extended to Michael (pianist of Jessington WOA) for expanding Robinson’s brilliant impersonation of Kate Nash with his delightfully explosive red wig, morph suit, and hilarious mimicry. From the fast pace of some songs, jumping from impression to impression was audibly confusing at times. Furthermore, the best received impressions were those most out of context within a song, such as Theresa May rather than Lady Gaga. By vetting the impressions based on comedy value, this would have helped streamline the performance and improve the audible experience.

Similarly, whilst the autobiographically contextual song about Robinson’s hometown received the loudest laughs, this was mainly because it was performed as a rap. The satirically gangster take on such a quintessentially British (and Brexit-esque) village, Straight Outta Aldbury, proved Robinsons skills as a comedy performer. Any rap song that mentions anoraks or Bramley apple pie is a chart-topper in my eyes. Furthermore, using Jess Robinsons’ around the world to sing about the Jess Robinson on stage was a stroke of comedy genius. The contrast of using non-actors in a comedy show worked incredibly well, as the song could rely on the performers alone for laughs. On the other hand, the impersonations of Judy Garland, Lady Gaga, and Barbara Streisand in ‘Shallow’ was more impressive than it was funny. To reinforce the comedy aspect of the performance, altering the song with wittier lyrics would have worked better than relying on the impressions themselves.

Towards the end, the performance took a solemn turn when we were introduced to Robinson’s Grandma, Rosie. Playing a pivotal role in pathing her future, a totally untouched rendition of ‘The Impossible Dream’ was dedicated to Grandma Rosie after sharing that she had passed away a year ago. Given the autobiographical nature of this performance, the inclusion of sincerity gave a glimpse into the person behind the performer. Sharing any internal struggle can always be daunting, but perfectly captures the authenticity of the performer which is an aspect I’d love to see Robinson attempt in future shows.

An hour isn’t a long amount of time to squeeze in impressions, music, stand-up, audience participation, and a video. As a performance, it felt slightly confused in genre switching between comedy and entertainment. With the exception of the section dedicated to Grandma Rosie, it could have benefitted by lengthening the segments that induced the most laughter, and removing the ones that didn’t. With that said, Robinson is an exceptionally talented performer with stunning vocal skills, realistic impersonations and an incredibly likeable persona. With such a range of talents it’s hard to guess Robinson’s next move, and that’s the best part of her comedy.

Also, from her recent exposure in The Guilty Feminist I’m sure Jess won’t mind me saying… I’m a feminist, but I couldn’t write this review without mentioning how much I loved her skirt.

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