Jenny Roberts, Artist, Comedian

Jenny Roberts: Chasing the Dream

By Susi Vogler & Madhavi Athanikar

Jenny Roberts is a name you may not recognize yet but she is an up-and-coming stand-up artist in the local comedy scene and a visual artist who lives here in our neighborhood, just off of Lakeshore. She has a performance coming up at Yoshi’s on March 26, as well as a mural launch at the Leaning Tower of Pizza on March 30. As she continues to hone her craft and build her audience, now seems like a good time to sit down with her to hear her thoughts on comedy, following her dreams, and becoming an artist.

For Jenny, the path to becoming a professional performer and painter took many turns and began to materialize in 2022 as a result of completing Julia Cameron’s influential self-help book on exploring creativity, The Artist’s Way. Moving through the visualization and introspection exercises, she began to see herself on stage with a mike in her hand; she followed that premonition, signed up for a series of classes at San Francisco Comedy College, completed advanced-level workshops, and a year later landed the gig at Yoshi’s.  

When she was young, she attended a Performing Arts Magnet school where she studied classical voice and jazz vocals. While performing always felt very natural to her, she did not think that a career in the arts was in her future. She attended college at Santa Clara University, majoring in philosophy, classical languages, and literature, then went to Yale Law School. Deciding that a career in law was not for her either, she drove herself towards more analytical modes of work but all the while the stage and studio kept beckoning her.  

While working in the tech industry in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she found herself drawn into the world of performing and visual arts through dance and painting, at first vicariously experiencing these things through friends and dabbling a bit on her own.  But it wasn’t until the breakup with her partner that she took her artistic talent seriously, as painting became a much more urgent and self-administered art therapy.

The 2020 pandemic was the final event that motivated Jenny to take her creative practice full-time. Being a new mother and trying to process the realities of life during that time made her realize that life is short and not to be wasted. Jenny explained that the fear of material scarcity and the need to take the safe bet are often the things that prevent us from heeding the call to creativity.  She told us, “I made the switch from external to internal benchmarking,” which enabled her to move from comparing herself to others to setting her own goals. Learning to trust the creative process was the most important lesson for her and perhaps for anyone afraid of risk-taking.

As far as perfecting her comedy craft, Jenny says it is an endless exercise in writing, rewriting, work-shopping, studying the hits and misses, and reworking her act for audience reaction. In describing her stand-up persona, she calls herself “an ivy-league bitch with a side of Costa Rican savor.” She likes to contrast the highbrow with the lowbrow, comparing quantum physics and her intimate parts and taking an intellectual premise to its absurd conclusion. Motherhood is another topic she likes to explore, looking at the pressures that society puts on mothers through a humorous lens.

Jenny is not afraid of sharing her experiences in her stories and jokes, “trusting that the right demographic for [my] art is out there” and refining the craft can make some uncomfortable truths funnier and less taboo. Jenny continues to be a student of the comic spirit and a student of life, reminding us that becoming an artist is a life-long pursuit.

For information on Jenny Roberts art and upcoming comedy events, please visit https://linktr.ee/ladraroberts



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