Jeff D’Silva was born and raised in Calgary. His parents were born in Pakistan. His father immigrated to Canada at the age of four or five, so very early on he had a Canadian upbringing. His mother first arrived in Montreal, Canada at the age of ten and moved to Calgary shortly after.
Jeff states that his parents always encouraged him to pursue his passion with a focus on education.
‘Education is a path to a better a life. There was always a dual focus on getting a great back up plan but also pursuing dreams. I was always encouraged to draw and take part in school plays. Up until the of age nine I was very shy, but my drama teacher Peter McWhir at Bishop McNally encouraged me to be funny and it married in with my love for comedy. I was raised watching Steve Martin movies and stand up comedy by Richard Pryor. Stand up comedy was a big part of my life. My teacher was very inspiring.’
After graduating high school, Jeff was encouraged to take part in Loose Moose Theatre Company where he experienced volunteerism for the first time.
‘Loose Moose allows individuals interested in improv to volunteer in exchange for stage time. I met a number of different mentors there that ended up becoming successful writers, performers and comedians in Canada.’
Jeff was simultaneously pursuing further education at the University of Calgary. Although he began with a drama program, he dropped out soon afterwards. He states,
‘It was for some silly reason, I think because I was self-conscious about taking my socks off on stage. I eventually went on to study Psychology, where I met my wife.’
After graduating, Jeff went into mortgage lending but being so young no one trusted him. He never gave up his creative flair for the Arts. He began filming and editing short films to try and promote his mortgage business.
‘The videos became really popular on the Internet but with people who weren’t looking for mortgages. After the videos’ success, a friend of mine invited me to participate in a short film competition and this encouraged me to start independently making short films.’
While studying for his MBA in Global Energy Management and Sustainable Development, Jeff decided to apply for an internship with his all-time comic hero Conan O’Brian. In September 2009, he was interviewed and offered an internship that summer. Jeff was getting ready to move to LA but the show ‘Tonight with Conan O’Brien’ was cancelled. The following November, Conan ended up at Times Warner and the staff member’s Jeff was meant to intern, asked him to come and work on the program. So, in the summer of 2011 he moved to LA, after he and his wife, Jackie, got married.
‘It was the most exciting experience; it was my dream as a fifteen year old to work for the Conan O’Brian show. I never thought it would become a reality. I remember balling my eyes out because I had never imagined in a million years that I would be given that opportunity. My wife had supported me throughout when I had zero money. I would not have been able to accomplish anything. My wife and children are the main reason I pursue anything.’
Over the past several years Jeff has been volunteering with various Arts Organizations including Loose Moose Theatre, the Calgary International Film Festival, the Calgary Zoo. He has also performed at the Calgary Folk Fest on numerous occasions and volunteered for their fundraising efforts. On a quarterly basis Jeff, along with his friend, organize comedy shows where they donate the money to specific charities.
Currently, Jeff works for Propellus, an organization, which supports non-profit organizations by connecting them to learning opportunities and resources so they can achieve their missions. Jeff shares a memorable moment, working for Propellus.
‘Propellus has 454 different member organizations, which are nonprofit and charities. One day I was walking around the city and handing out little awards to volunteers at different organizations and I bought my then two-year-old child with me. It was a great privilege to take my child around the city to all these organizations that I work with directly and serve in a way. For me to communicate to my child that these are all the places in the city that make Calgary a really great place to be, I think that was one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences.’
About living in Calgary, Jeff states,
“Calgary is my home and it has given me so many great opportunities, it’s really a city where regardless of your background, if you apply yourself usually you can create the city you imagined.”