Jackie Loeb is a very funny woman. This character-playing comedy chameleon found her feet early in the Australian award-winning sketch TV comedy series Full Frontal. Loeb has something special. She’s an impressive cabaret singer and musician and has the kind of voice that easily has people fronting to see her for that talent alone.
In fact the other night in Sydney she did just that. ‘I did a cabaret show,’ she says, ‘ and it was really lovely doing show tunes. It was so much fun – it felt like home. It’s where I started. I have this beautiful piano player and when I sing I feel like I really do shine. Being funny when you are a singer is a bonus!’
And man, Loeb is funny. I’m interviewing her but she’s arguing with herself. There’s barely an answer that she gives that she doesn’t heckle. This is how she thinks: the comedian brain constantly pulling the rug out of anything the straight-talking business, Jackie says.
Jackie tells me she’s a bit of a closet inventor, except unfortunately she has a habit of inventing things that are either already invented or outside the field of her expertise. Like a desalinating water bottle. Perfect if you’re on a cruise and you get shipwrecked or lost at sea. ‘The only problem is that I don’t know anything about desalination. But I have bought a lot of water bottles,’ say Jackie.
For the past seven years Loeb has been living between Australia and LA, living the comedian’s dream of forging a career in America.
It’s been a long-held dream of Jackie’s to find herself a part in a sit-com, and after years of slogging away, going to auditions, doing workshops, and living the full-swing LA life, she’s had a few wins.
‘Normally I would whinge and moan, which makes better comedy,’ laughs Jackie, ‘but I am happy and in a good head space; I have a new agent; I have booked two acting jobs; and earlier this year I had a role in a show called Superstore. Then I got booked for a film that will shoot next year. I am going back to LA with enthusiasm!’
Being an actor/comedian in LA is a slog. ‘The novelty factor is zero,’ laughs Jackie. ’There are just so many more people out there wanting to do what I am doing!’
Fortunately Jackie is good. Really, really good. She seamlessly moves between standup and song, weaving her comedy into all the hard-to-reach places. She has a special gift for comedic song, and self-deprecation is her gold. Just last year Jackie was recognised with the Mo Award for Best Comedian. Being incredibly self-deprecating and modest Jackie thought it was a joke, and they were going to give the award to someone else. They weren’t. It was hers.
Although she started out more than two decades ago (something that appalls her!) she says that now she really thinks she has the stuff to talk about that she never had before.
‘Being middle aged I had a revelation that the first 20 years I really had nothing to talk about! I am amazed I had anything to talk about at all! I feel like it’s only now that I am tapping into the good stuff. I talk more about my sexuality, which I never used to talk about, and I was really ambiguous about it; it’s not even exciting now.’
Loeb is in a relationship with a woman, something she describes by saying, ‘I love someone who is a lady and I share her clothes but I am more than that’.
Things have changed in both comedy and in Australian society so that conversations around relationships aren’t just focused on heterosexuality.
The recent same-sex marriage vote certainly bought it all home. ‘I was in America when it was happening and talking to a friend there who was really unsympathetic because she said they went through this 20 years ago. It’s just part of the process! Although it was really hard. Going outside and seeing a big NO in the skyline was pretty disgusting.’ Jackie admits to spending a bit of time screaming at the TV.
So what does Jackie do in her downtime? You will find her on Facebook – although she is trying to cut back.
‘I’ve to douse myself with hand sanitiser after some big Facebook sessions. I realised that I don’t need to invest energy into people I don’t know. I don’t need to see people’s open wounds or get involved in people’s dogs’ being euthanised. There are only so many times you can write “I am so sorry about your dog”; it’s sad but it’s a bit relentless.’
Jackie Loeb headlines at the Byron Services Club on Monday 11 December.
She is supported by up-and-coming comedy star from The Project, This Week Live and The Drum, Mel Buttle like a Judith Lucy/Amy Schumer lovechild).
MC is Mandy Nolan. Tix are $25/$30 at the door, online at mandynolan.com.au, or can be booked on 6619 0529.