COMIC Jackie Loeb is determined to break into the tough American comedy market, even if it takes a few more years.
The Sydney performer, who has been working in the comedy business in Australia for 22 years, has spent the past three years in Los Angeles working to establish a comedy career in the United States.
Loeb, 42, is back in Australia to perform in a series of six comedy shows with well-known comic, author and TV performer Gretel Killeen, as well as to appear in the Jewish Comedy Showcase at the Sydney Comedy Festival.
“I’m excited to be back in Australia for a busy three-week period of shows,” says Loeb. “It is hard to be away from my family for too long.”
The shows with Killeen, who is well known for her role as host of TV’s Big Brother for several years from 2001, kicked off on the NSW Central Coast on April 30, followed by appearances at the Sydney Comedy Festival on May 1-2.
“Gretel’s a wonderful comic and has worked in many different areas. We are very contrasting as performers; her style is more storytelling whereas I predominantly do musical comedy with my electric guitar, keyboard and harmonica,” says Loeb.
“It will be a very diverse night of comedy. The beauty of being a comic is that you get to challenge people and show the audience a different perspective.”
Loeb is excited to be appearing at the Jewish Comedy Showcase on May 13, where the line-up includes well-known local Jewish comics Peter Meisel, Alice Fraser, Ben Ellwood, Dave Smiedt and Tami Sussman as emcee.
“In the [United] States there are so many Jewish comedians that it’s not a novelty – if you tried to put on an event like the Jewish Comedy Showcase you would have a cast of thousands,” she laughed.
“I’ve worked with Tami Sussman before and did a show with Dave Smiedt last year, so they are all old friends.
“Im really looking forward to the show because I know the audience will understand all the Jewish nuances.
“We all have an allotted time and no doubt, being Jewish, we will go over … No doubt we will all be doing our shtick on being Jewish – it will be interesting to see how inventive we are with our material.”
Loeb says she spends a lot of time at home in Los Angeles writing comedy material for her shows.
“I think the best comedy is being really honest, with less gags and more personal, embarrassing stories – and I do have quite a few of them!
“I’ve been performing for half my life now and there are no guarantees when you are on stage; you hope everything will work but things can be unpredictable.”
In March Loeb performed at Aspen Laff Festival, an annual event at the famous American ski resort.
“There were lots of high-profile comics, local performers and three Jewish girls doing a show together,” she says.
“One of the shows was a free gig in front of more than 500 people of all ages, and playing to a diverse audience was hard work. It was great promotion for me – I will use the line ‘Recently back from the Aspen Laff Festival’ for the next three years!
“A lot of the gigs in LA are unpaid shows because it is considered a city where you showcase your talent, but it’s good experience,” Loeb says.
“In LA everything is about acting – there’s no escaping it. If someone is not an actor, he’s probably a screenwriter or a director. It’s pretty limited, whereas when I’m back in Sydney the conversation covers a broad range.”
Jackie Loeb and Gretel Killen perform on May 17 at 8pm, Revesby Workers Club, Revesby. Bookings: www.rwc.org.au.
The Jewish Comedy Showcase is on May 13 at the Comedy Store, Moore Park. Bookings: www.sydneycomedyfest.com.au.
REPORT by Danny Gocs
PHOTO of comedian Jackie Loeb.