A Young Person's Medium? My Patootie!


If you look at the usual demographics surrounding video viewing online, you would think much of the action is still going on in the under-55 set. After all, most of the Web celebs are young, edgy, and Web cam-comfortable. But in fact, millions within the older demographics are likely targets for online video, too, and they are just as capable of creating their own video stars.  

To wit, one Jeanne Robertson, a stand-up comedienne with a large YouTube following. Don't be fooled by her dedicated YouTube channel, where the videos can have the canned look of informercials. Perhaps they are. The audience seems to be as  obeisant as it is amused. Still, Robertson's channel has garnered a quarter of a million views and her video views are about to crack 13 million.

And she is as wholesome as all get out. Robertson bills herself as "Comedy with Class." She is the former Miss North Carolina, aged 67 and author of several humor books and DVDs. She also appears on Sirius-XM. Her point of entry for senior and other audiences is that she is family-friendly, a "refined humorist," a Miss Congeniality turned stand-up.

Hey, it beats Garrison Keillor, who has veered somehow in recent years toward a deep sleepy kind of humor that left wry behind a long time ago. Robertson refers to her husband as "Left Brain" and draws her humorous stories from poking at her own Southern gentility and encounters with clueless youth. I especially enjoyed hearing her explain bungee-jumping to her husband. Her bit "Don't send a man to the grocery store" has gotten 4.3 million views alone. She doesn't go to the grocery store with her husband anymore, "because frankly I just don't' care how much this cost by the half-ounce." And Robertson packages it in a towering 6-foot-2-inch frame that she uses on stage to good effect.

And Robertson's marketing crew is leveraging all of the digital channels. Her YouTube page points to iTune downloads, ticket sales and her own Web site, where she keeps the fan based stoked with loads of audio clips and articles. This is a Web-savvy sexagenarian with some classic Southern storytelling chops. So next time you think digital video is only for targeting the "core demo" look at the scale a Jeanne Robertson can achieve in the new medium. And while you are at it, get the hell off my lawn.

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