Jess is wildly funny. She is. She's the kind of natural funny that cannot be taught. But more than that; she knows how to live. Watching her, being around her, sharing a car ride with her is an insight into living joy. She once drove me back from the Revival Theater after one of my variety shows and I have literally never laughed so hard or had so much fun. Something that should have been a simple transaction. She is also selfless and kind and did I mention funny?
AS: How would you like to be described?
Jess DeBacco: You know…that tall, loud, girl.
AS: Where are you from? Where do you live? What do you consider home?
JD: From Carson City, NV. Live in Chicago, but I consider Nevada my home.
AS: Life story in half a page, GO!
JD: I grew up in a loud Irish/Italian household with three siblings. I have an older sister and a twin little brother and sister. Lots of fighting, but lots of love. As the middle child, I was loud, attention seeking and was always trying to find ways to make people laugh. Our house, growing up, was the central meeting point for all the kids of varying ages in the neighborhood to meet. Every night, it seemed, dozens of us would gather to play hide n seek, kick the can or sit around story telling. “Playing” has always been my favorite and by pursuing comedy and performing, I’m realizing I’m on a mission to play forever. So far so good.
AS: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
JD: Probably leaving my comfort zone and moving to Chicago. It taught me that taking that first, hard step towards something you want causes a momentum in that can’t be stopped.
AS: What is your biggest failure? And what(if anything) did you learn from it?
JD: I don’t know if this is a failure as much of a regret, but I wasted almost all education opportunities in high school. I’m not sure if I would truly change anything, because I had an insane amount of real life experiences and everything makes you who you are, but I wish I could have listened and learned more instead of treating school as a place I could hang with my friends. Many teachers tried to get me to care and I wasted their efforts. There were many excuses about what was going on in my home life, but the fact remains, I regret that.
AS: Describe your perfect day:
JD: My perfect day would be to wake up mid-morning to sunshine and birds chirping causing me to leave the house to take a walk to take in the day. I’d meet up with friends and family to swim/hike/play catch/or just sit outside somewhere. We’d take a nap outside in the warm sun. Wake up to a BBQ that leads to a sun down bon fire while some people play music and we all sit around a fire telling stories. Ending that night with ideal weather allowing us to sleep under the stars. Whatever, that sounds effing awesome.
AS: How did you get where you are?
JD: By being equal parts delusional, romantic, pessimistic, and my total unwillingness to do the work needed to get through med school.
AS: What are you most proud of?
JD: The strong belt of friends and family I’m surrounded by.
AS: What is one of your fears?
JD: Besides coyotes, being in an abusive relationship.
AS: What keeps you going every day?
JD: Many things. From mini pep talks I give to myself, to counting and calling on the few, but mighty, genuine people I have in my life that would have my back and love me no matter what. To…side story; when I used to get in trouble a lot, I remember feeling consumed with anxiety and a wishing that I could turn back time to do things differently, but then even just a week or a few days later that problem was behind me and it was on to another day. That helps remind me in times I experience loss or pain or when I’m feeling anxious or depressed, that even though things seem bad in the moment, the further away you get from the problem, the less it stings. It helps me remember that you learn and grow from all experiences, there’s a through point to all dark moments and you just gotta push through.
AS: Favorite podcast?
JD: Wish it was cooler and more obscure, but ‘This American Life’
AS: Last piece of art that spoke to you?
JD: A blank canvas that was titled “You could have, but you didn’t”
AS: Tell us an embarrassing story:
JD: I got stuck in a hollowed out tree one time at a river clean up event. There were news crews and people everywhere. I jumped from above into this tree stump that was over my head. My teeny tiny friends looked down laughing at my predicament from above unable to help. We all laughed, but I was panicking. I have no upper body strength to pull myself and I fit just exactly in it as if it was a skinny pipe so I couldn’t lift my leg to get any footing to climb out. I was chubby, but thought I was obese. I thought no human in the world would be able to lift my fat, 13 year old self out of the tree so they’d surely have to bring in a giant crane to lift me out and all the news crews would be there to film it. There were many spiders I had to brush off adding to the panic as I pictured the spectacle that was about to be my rescue mission and I yelled “I’M NOT GOING OUT LIKE THAT!” and hulk ran THROUGH the tree, out into the air to trip over a table and fall in front of everybody. To this day there’s a “me” shaped hole in the tree by the Carson River.
AS: Pump up song?
JD: Depends on what I’m getting pumped for by anything by Andrew W.K. usually does the trick.
AS: What advice would you give to someone who is lost?
JD: Take it in and enjoy the moment. By being lost is how you find what works and doesn’t work for you.
AS: Do you have a mantra or words to live by?
JD: Fuck it.
AS: What gives you meaning?
JD: Being someone people don’t have to be afraid to share their true thoughts and feelings with. I get life from being able to hear what’s real and what’s truly going on in someone’s world. No better gift has been given to me than to have someone genuine sit and listen to my not so pretty side and still love me. I love to be able to be a person who can repay that gift.
AS: What do you struggle with?
JD: Too much to list. I struggle with confidence, giving time to toxic people, being nice but also sincere, being honest with people who deserve it and being honest with myself, being self critical in a healthy way, staying informed, being healthy (mentally and physically), being there for my friends and family, being selfless, being selfish, forgiving myself, living in the moment, indecisiveness, laziness, and so much more. I try to be aware and better at all these things, but struggle to do so constantly.
AS: What is success to you?
JD: I say this a lot to people pursuing a passion but, if you have food on the table and somewhere to lay your head AND you find time to do what you love, you’re succeeding. Getting paid to do it is a bonus, but not the measure.
AS: What are you working on that you’re geeked out about?
JD: I feel like I’m finally at a point in my life where I’ve stopped wondering what I should be doing creatively for other people and I’ve started listening to what would make me happy in the moment. So I’m geeked out on working on solo characters, stand up and doing shows with friends that are fun and for us.
AS: Anything else?
JD: Yeah. I love you.