Jacci Pillar is an Australian autistic woman, an anthropologist who has lived and worked with indigenous communities in the Australian outback, and a mental health & autism advocate.
Inspired and mentored by Australian comedian Frank Hampset and influenced by Jon Bennet’s audiovisual style, Jacci creates comedy dedicated to telling stories with social meaning on topics including anti-bullying, positive mental health messages and women’s rights.
Her current show Labelled is about growing up as an undiagnosed autistic girl in the 70s and 80s and the power of being a lighthouse; shining a positive light on disability for today’s young people.
While some comedians leverage off the adage that comedy is based upon lies and exaggeration, Jacci balks at this concept. She prefers to use personal true stories, historical events and life experience to entertain and generate the kind of laughter that comes from a sense of relating to the content and feeling empowered by its humanness.
Jacci was born in Upper Ferntree Gully and grew up in Queensland’s hinterland. Her comedy is gleaned from her quirky and delightfully Aspie retellings of her ‘cock-eyed’ (her words!) life journey and her observations of human behaviour. In 1993 her career as a scuba instructor was cut short by an accident that saw her develop a neurological and musculoskeletal decompression illness and led to a five-year recovery. Through all of that, humour and laughter became key to overcoming difficult circumstances.
Jacci graduated with an Honours Degree in Anthropology in 2004 which informs her comedic presence. All of this craziness has seen the development of her comedy, which asks people to be comfortable with who they are and through what some people would consider embarrassing stories. Her stories are told without judgment, self-consciousness or crassness; just humour. The intent is not to have waves of belly laughs, but thoughtful engaged audience participation followed by laughter that’s sourced from honest, from-the-heart, positive comedy.