Meet Jacob Bach. He’s one of the most outgoing, encouraging, eccentric and caring people I know. One of his main goals in life is to always make the people around him laugh. Just a few months ago in February 2017, Jacob incorporated Good Land Guides, “a Wisconsin-based tourism company that focuses on getting people out into the good land,” explains Jacob. Not only does he take people on backpacking and rafting adventures in nature, but he also leads trips into cities or interesting places around Wisconsin in order to show people what Wisconsin really has to offer. On top of that, he tries to schedule one volunteer day per month like the Devil’s Lake clean-up event last month that brought about 300 people to the state park to clean up trash and maintain the trails.
So how did Bach get here? Yes, he does spend most of his time outdoors, but no, that’s not necessarily his professional background. He actually started as a dancer, actor and then a comedian. Bach grew up in Milwaukee learning dance and acting, then started doing comedy through the ComedySportz High School League, which he now teaches. In 2010 he started The Improvised Musical, a theater company he ran with co-producer Mary Baird that was a traveling improvised musical which he calls “the gypsy company.” The group would travel around the country headlining improv festivals in New York, performing at universities and other venues. During the company’s five-year run, the company won best theater company in Milwaukee by the Shepard Express.
Once the company ended in 2015, Jacob began to focus on his solo career. He started a podcast called “Yeah, Bro!” which Jacob describes as “the show where straight guys talk about gay things.” Little did he know, he would gain thousands of listeners in the first year and get asked to do photo shoots for Milwaukee Magazine and Quest. “I was getting a reputation for being me… I was notorious for being myself, like having a personality,” says Bach. He has also been working at ComedySportz for 10 years, making a living from coaching comedy, performing, independent contracting and leading team building work shops for corporate companies.
His life was running smooth until his father had a massive heart attack in 2014 and Jacob was the first responder on the scene. Luckily his father was fine, but the event changed both Jacob’s and his family’s perspective. It “opened my family’s eyes to doing things” and not worrying about money, he mentions. Skip ahead to 2016: Jacob made it his goal to see every state park in Wisconsin in one year. “I finished up that tour and completely fell in love… I didn’t know how badly I wanted to share things with people.”
After completing his 2016 goal, Jacob took the NOLS Southwest Outdoor Educator course to become a trained outdoor guide. Once he got back from that trip, he realized that he wanted to work in the outdoors and show people this “crazy awesome” state. That’s when the idea for Good Land Guides first popped into his head.
So as I sat on the couch with Jacob at the rock climbing gym listening to his story about his life, the creation of Good Land Guides made perfect sense to me. But I had one final question: What do both comedy and guiding do for the community and why do you do them?
His answer was so profound, that I am going to let him take it from here:
“I think that they are both honestly the same. It’s just an escape for people for a while. Both of them should be bringing you happiness in some way. I do comedy because I need attention, but I also do comedy because I like to give people attention. Specifically, I do improv because it’s so interactive with people and it’s so collaborative. I love commanding attention from people but it’s because I like to make sure that people are always laughing about something or at least having a decent conversation about something. Guiding people is my way of sharing what I love with people. It’s a communal thing. You’re getting people out into places that you have chosen for them. And you’re showing them why you love it and hopefully they are loving it in return.”