It’s been a rollercoaster year for singing comedy impressionist Jess Robinson, semi-finalist in 2017’s Britain’s Got Talent. On the back of it, all sorts of offers are opening up; all sorts of opportunities are coming her way.
It’s typical of her year that her show at this year’s Petworth Festival quickly sold out. A second one has been added – in Leconfield Hall on Saturday, July 15 at 5pm.
Joined by a three-piece supporting band, she will be offering impressions probably including Julie Andrews, Tina Turner, Britney Spears and Kate Bush...
All on the back of a good family ethos. “I have been rehearsing with my mum all day,” Jess says. “My mum helps me learn the lines, and my dad does all the props and sets. It’s a real family affair.
“And my niece, who has just finished her GCSEs, helps me, do all the Twitter and social stuff that can take hours. I have just given her a summer holiday job doing all my social media.”
It’s a busier holiday job than it would have been last year, thanks to Jess’ TV success.
“I have been meeting with lots of entertainment companies and comedy commissioners that I would never have been able to get last year. I have got lots of exciting gigs, and it has all made such a big difference. I have got lots of things that are bubbling away.
“I have been plugging away since I was 18 years old. I left school and I had a place at Bristol University to do a music degree. But I got a part to do a show in London, and I ended up deferring my place at university… and then just kept getting work. And in the end, I just never went to university. I was lucky. I didn’t have the homework and the essays of university, but I had probably just the same amount of drinking!”
As for the impressions, Jess admits she lied her way into it: “I was working as a jobbing actor and I was doing panto at a little theatre in Hereford. I didn’t want to go back to my day job which was working in the stock room of a shop. I heard that there was a production of Little Voice coming up, so I told them I was a brilliant impressionist. I hadn’t done any singing impressions at all at that point, and probably the only people I had impersonated were my mum and grandmother!
“But the director told me to come and audition and that it was in ten days’ time. Luckily I was a singer and I had done some classical training and I understood music and could already sing, so that was half of it. So I just listened to lots of iconic voices. They are all so distinctive, and luckily I was able to do them.”
Key once again has been her mum: “I try them out on my mum. She is very critical. If you can get something past her, then you know it must be alright. We started rehearsing at 9.30 this morning and she went through my show over and over and over again. She is my best friend and my biggest critic. She is just brilliant.” Jess stresses her impressions are always affectionate: “But I will send the people up. People love to hear the nuances and the inflections, and it is funny to push that and exaggerate that. I love Kate Bush. She was one of the first ones I did.”
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