Random 8

Jess Robinson

Jess Robinson. Copyright: Karla Gowlett

One random comedian, eight random questions; it's the ultimate test of funny person and fate. This week it's Jess Robinson, whose uniquely versatile voice has popped up on some big-time TV lately - but more on that later. First: she's off out.

"The 12 Days of Jessmas is my first ever festive tour," says Robinson. "Is now the right time to mention I'm Jewish? Well Jew-ish. My mum plays the organ in the village church and I've got a serious addiction to pigs in blankets.

"So the idea of this show is to get us into the Christmas mood. And that doesn't just mean getting pissed, although it can help."

We're all ears...

"The audience can expect impressions from Adele to Priti Patel. There'll be mashups, original songs and plenty of laughs. I'll be accompanied by my brilliant band Jessington World of Adventures - I promise I don't name everything after myself. The audience will get to choose famous voices from a Celebrity Selection Box and pair them with randomly chosen Christmas songs, which the boys and I will perform on the spot."

"Where else could you see Kate Bush performing Frosty the Snowman complete with interpretive dance, or Cardi B rapping Santa Claus is Coming to Town? Basically we want you to stagger out of the theatre with your face aching from smiling and laughing, feeling warm, fuzzy and a little bit pissed."

Jess Robinson. Copyright: Karla Gowlett

A festive tonic indeed. How has the Covid era been, for Robinson?

"It's been bittersweet. I lost my wonderful dad to lung cancer just as the first lockdown started. We couldn't have more than six people at the funeral, but as we processed through the village to the little church, his friends and neighbours lined the streets and clapped as we walked past. It was truly the most moving and special thing I have ever known - like he was a king.

"It brings tears to my eyes to think of it. It felt his life was really being honoured - and that's something that'd never have happened in 'normal times'. It's actually a very magical memory.

"Then three weeks later, I decided the best thing to do would be to guilt-trip my band into making the podcast I've always wanted to make - Stars In Your Ears. Each week the boys and I are joined by a special guest - who learn an impression, talk about their own voice and what makes them sound the way they do, and take part in a 'Fantasy Duet', where they get to sing with any famous person they choose (so long as I can do the voice)."

Jess and the band have been joined by the likes of Romesh Ranganathan, Jess Phillips MP and Adam Buxton thus far, and earlier this year won a British Podcast Award, which "was an emotional day," she says. "I processed through the village, holding my award - but no-one lined the streets or clapped. Unbelievable.

"In the second lockdown, I had some therapy and questioned if performing was what I really wanted to do, then I landed my dream job as the lead female impressionist on Spitting Image, and decided I was satisfied with my career choice after all.

Jess Robinson

"So in the third lockdown I forced my band to record an album with me. It's called Are You Ready? and is available to download on Bandcamp... or, if you're my mum, you can buy it on CD.

"I think that's us all up to date. Come and see my tour please."

Right! Jess Robinson, your Random 8 await.

What was your childhood career dream?

I really, really, reeeeaaaallly wanted to work behind the counter in Blockbuster Video.

Your most interesting injury?

When I was younger I fell off a horse and cut my elbow open. My mum was advised to take me to A+E to get it stitched, but she didn't think it was worth it. I'm glad, because if we'd got it stitched up, it might never have healed into the exact shape of a VAGINA! With all of the bits!

That's all I can say without getting too graphic about what it looked like when I bent and unbent my elbow. I was sad to see it fade.

Jess Robinson. Copyright: Karla Gowlett

What's the most regrettable thing you've ever bought?

The bottle of that famous coffee-flavoured tequila which I drank entirely to myself while watching Lizzo at Glastonbury.

I later 'fled' the medical tent by burrowing under the tent flap and army-crawling through the mud all the way back to the safety of The Cabaret Tent. Where I proudly announced to anyone who'd listen (or watch me re-enact the event), that I had just escaped being sectioned.

John Cooper Clarke wasn't very impressed and I really embarrassed myself... apparently.

When were you most embarrassed?

Probably during the incident I described above... except I only remember being an absolute legend. So let's choose all the times my dad would drop me outside the school gates in his old birdshit-green Skoda, then toot the horn and sing at me through the window as I tried to enter unseen.

Who's the most interesting person you've ever met?

Chi Chi Revolver - she hula hoops, strips AND sets her tits on fire at the same time. Plus she can hang two full-size umbrellas off her nipples. What a woman.

What's the best non-comedy room you've ever been in?

Probably the circus I ran away and joined after I'd divorced Practice Husband.

Jess Robinson. Copyright: Karla Gowlett

Which unsung British town deserves more attention?

The village of Aldbury in Hertfordshire where I grew up. Beautiful place and lovely people who will get on the village minibus to almost anywhere to come and see my show.

What's your favourite phrase or expression?

Jew on!

I was in a play and everything was going wrong (it wasn't The Play That Goes Wrong). I was having a little cry in the wings when Claire, the stage manager, came up to me and said, "Ah when I'm like this my mum always says - 'due on.'"

I looked up through my tears and in amazement asked, "Are you Jewish too"?

I didn't realise she thought I was hormonal. I thought she was giving me rousing words of encouragement; Jew on! We got through the Holocaust we can get through this.

So now my family and I use it as just that:

"Ugh mum the traffic's bloody awful in Watford"
"Don't worry darling, just get on the bypass and Jew on!"

The 12 Days of Jessmas tours the UK from 25th November, finishing in Crawley on December 19th. Info & tickets

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