ALBANY, Ga. -- At 6-foot-2, it was Jeanne Robertson's height that first drew lots of attention to the then-Miss North Carolina at the 1963 Miss America Pageant.
But it was the beauty queen's wit and composure when making subsequent speeches that turned what seemed an offshoot of her moment in the spotlight into a 49-years-and-counting career that's heralded Robertson as one of the nation's most in-demand humorists.
"The week after I crowned the new Miss North Carolina (in 1964) at the end of my reign, I was asked to do three speeches," Robertson said. "I just took to it like a duck to water.
"And what started out as something cool to do for a short while has turned into a career that's been going on now for 49 years."
Southwest Georgians became familiar with Robertson's unique brand of humor two years ago when she entertained at a fundraiser for the SOWEGA Council on Aging. She was such a hit, in fact, at the sold-out show, when it came time to plan this year's seventh annual Comedy Night, a committee of Council on Aging supporters immediately insisted on a second helping.
"Jeanne's coming back to Albany by popular demand," council Development Director Izzie Sadler said. "When I met with a committee to start planning (Comedy Night) several months ago, all of the members started talking about how great Jeanne was. We decided to look into bringing her back.
"The first thing I did was call and see if she had new material she hadn't used her first time here. When I was assured she had all new stuff, I said 'Let's do it.' Before we'd even put tickets on sale, I had a list of people who'd asked me to reserve tickets for them because they'd heard through the grapevine that Jeanne was coming back."
Robertson will headline the Council on Aging's Comedy Night Aug. 7 at the Albany Municipal Auditorium. A limited number of dinner/performance tickets will be available for the 7 p.m. show. Proceeds from the performance will benefit the council's Meals on Wheels program.
The humorist's career as what she calls a "non-celebrity speaker" began innocently enough when meeting planners got wind of her talent as a convention speaker. It exploded five or so years ago when Sirius/XM radio's comedy channel sought and received permission to showcase her material.
A short while later, after Robertson posted clips from her speaking engagements on YouTube, she became something of a phenomenon.
"One of my neighbors' kids told me, 'Ms. Jeanne, you need to stay away from us. Mama says you've gone viral'," Robertson jokes. "We put those clips out there on YouTube, and all of a sudden we were getting millions of views.
"This was all amazing to me. I tell people when I started out, audiocassettes hadn't even been invented yet. I've just slowly figured out what would work for me."
In addition to garnering millions of views on YouTube and being featured 15 or so times a day on Sirius/XM, Robertson has also released seven increasingly popular DVDs.
"I'm not a comedian," she said. "I doubt that I could even tell a joke. I prefer to call myself a humorist. A humorist might be called on to make two or three specific points during a speech, while a comedian is simply out to get a major laugh at anyone's expense.
"People in Nashville have told me I should give up the convention business, that I have what it takes to sell tickets (on the comedy circuit). But I tell them 'Oh, no, that's my day job.' The convention business has been too good to me."
Tickets for Robertson's Comedy Night performance are on sale now at www.sowegacoa.org or at the Council on Aging's 1105 Palmyra Road offices. Information is available by calling (229) 432-1124.
General admission tickets are $30 apiece, while the dinner/performance combo tickets, which include a pre-show Italian feast at downtown Albany's Cafe 230, are $50.
"(Restaurant owner) B.J. Fletcher is giving part of the proceeds from the dinner to the Meals on Wheels program," Sadler said. "Tickets with dinner will be limited to the first 200 to purchase them."
Information about Robertson or clips of her humor are available at www.jeannerobertson.com.