Close-Up: An Interview With Comedian Jackie Pirico

Fast rising and highly coveted stand-up comedian Jackie Pirico joins us on Close-Up Culture to chat about her acclaimed album, Splash Pad.

Splash Pad was recently nominated for Comedy Album of the Year at the 2023 JUNO Awards. How does it feel to see your work recognised in this way? 

It truly felt incredible; I still haven’t come down! Stand up comedy in my opinion is one of the most vulnerable forms of performance art, and at times it can really shake your confidence and test your mettle. But to now have my art validated by this nomination, from an entity as prestigious as CARAS, feels so fortifying; not only for my professional career as a whole, but for my creative confidence as well. I’m finding a stronger belief in myself on stage; allowing me to come even more into my own artistic voice. I’m so grateful! I understand you found your inspiration for the album during the pandemic. 

Can you tell us about the genesis of the album? 

I think my major inspiration behind the recording of Splash Pad was simply to hit the ground running in the wake of the pandemic. I recorded it in April of 2022, when venues were still not even running at full capacity! Leading up to that, I’d been lucky to have stayed quite busy with virtual shows during lockdowns, and I got right back out there to outdoor shows and limited capacity shows between lockdowns as well. So I think the recording of Splash Pad was my way of laying down all the hard work I’d done during arguably one of the most bewildering times in recent history; I was proud of that. 

Material wise, however, Splash Pad is the culmination of a real grab-bag of very personal inspirations. I have always been quite truthful and personal in my material, but this album really showcases a lot of my inner life, such as my hypochondriac tendencies, and some biographical bits about my wedding day and my childhood as well. It feels great to tell the world these personal histories and be met with such a warm reception! I feel like Sally Fields when she said: “You like me! You really LIKE me!” 

What can audiences expect from Splash Pad? 

Audiences can expect the unexpected! I like to take my audience on a bit of a wild ride, where they don’t know where a bit is going to end up. My material is relatable, I think, but I also like to subvert audience expectations of where it’s going to go. 

You’ll soon be appearing on CBC’s hit quiz show Because News with Gavin Crawford and season three of CBC Gem’s The New Wave of Stand Up. How much did you enjoy being involved in these shows? 

Oh, I just loved it all! Any time anyone lets me on the radio or TV, I’m a happy girl! Because News is such a successful, long-running institution, and has had such an impressive alumni of panelists over the years, it was truly an honour to be asked on the show. 

And the live comedy taping for CBC’s New Wave of Stand Up was fabulous too! It was filmed in beautiful Vancouver last spring during the Just For Laughs NorthWest festival, in collaboration with Counterfeit Productions, who are just a dream to work with. It will be airing on March 24th and I can’t wait! 

You’re also working on a new podcast. Can you reveal anything about that? 

Yes, premiering any day now, it is a comedy advice podcast where listeners can submit anonymous questions about anything; relationships, career, love-life, family, etc. Me and my co-host, the hilarious and beloved Mark Little, do our best as completely untrained and non-accredited counsellors to steer people down the right path; or, maybe just a path. It’s called How Can We Help? We often have other comedians as guests and it’s just a really fun and silly listen. Stay tuned! 

What has comedy brought to your life? 

Comedy has really brought so many priceless things to my life; first and foremost it has afforded me a major level of self-realization and freedom; freedom to be fully and unapologetically myself. And by self-realization, I mean that comedy has helped me learn about myself immensely. A comedian’s material must of course be relatable, but I believe in order to have an edge in this industry, a unique point of view is also crucial.

My comedy requires me to look at what makes me uniquely me, and the singular ways that I shape and perceive everyday scenarios and interactions in my life. Relaying my unique experiences to an audience requires a level of self-reflection that I wouldn’t otherwise have if not for comedy. Through this medium, I get to show myself to the world exactly how I am and invite people to see the world as I do. Comedy has also given me community and friendship, because there’s no stronger bond in my opinion than a shared sense of humour. Comedy has allowed me to make so many meaningful and lasting connections with fans and colleagues alike. 

What are your plans and ambitions for the future? 

I’d like to use the skills I’ve developed over the years by writing jokes for the stage and translate that to the screen. I’d love to get into more writing rooms for film and television. I’ve dipped my toe in that world and now I want to dive right in! Because I also love acting in addition to stand-up, I ideally want to write and create a project to star in myself. I’m so inspired by incredible female-led shows like I May Destroy You and Fleabag; it would be a dream to create something like that for myself.

Follow Jackie on Instagram – Jackie Pirico (@jackiepirico)

Leave a Reply