Just jokes with JJ Barrows

When the spotlight shines, it’s a comedian’s job to turn on the laughter.

On Oct. 27, in the David L. Eisler  Ballrooms, a small crowd of five students gathered to see comedian JJ Barrows.

Barrows is a comedian, author and mixed media artist originally from South Carolina who currently lives in Tennessee with her husband. She performs her short story comedy skits all over the United States at different venues. JJ is her nickname which is short for Jenny Joy Barrows.

Barrows normally has a much larger crowd and says that it isn’t often that she gets to have interactive, personalized shows like she did for this event. She referred to the five students in the audience as the “faithful five.”

After the show, she allowed students to do a question-and-answer session with her.

JJ Barrows entertaining students last Friday evening. Photo by: Levi Waling |Torch Photographer

She found comedy “by accident” when she was going through a rough time in her life.

“What I needed was therapy but I just couldn’t even afford it,” Barrows said. “I Googled alternatives to therapy and found improv comedy. A six-week comedy class was cheaper than two weeks of therapy.”

Later on, the comedy class became a career for her. She was asked to open at the Comedy Store, a club in West Hollywood, by one of the guys from her comedy class.

“My first show ever was in front of those 35 people and then my second show was in front of 250 people,” Barrows said. “I have now been doing comedy for seven years and the people in the comedy world would laugh at that and say that is not that long.”

Automotive freshman Alex Forbes has only been to a handful of comedy shows.

“I have only been to Trevor and her,” Forbes said. “She beats him.”

Forbes enjoyed the show and asked Barrows to autograph his Burger King hat.

Digital animation and game design senior Nick Zimmer also hasn’t seen many comedy shows in his day. He believed that Wallace’s Homecoming performance was “a little over the top” so he just left.

The event was brought to campus by the Center for Student Involvement. The host of the event was Associate Dean of Student Life, Nick Campau.

Campau described that Ferris has featured many different comedy shows here on campus in the past. He enjoyed Barrow’s performance and thought it was very unique.

Barrows explained how humor was very healing and connective in her journey. She feels that she can laugh now because the struggle has lost its power over her and she feels like she does not have to hide anymore.

She tries to paint comedy as more of a personal empowerment tool.

“That’s life, right? It’s a mix of humor and pain,” Barrows said during the show. “And it took a long time for me to learn that I had to deal with pain in order to be able to laugh about it.”

Barrows describes that her comedy is based on her true self. She feels that once she could talk about her insecurities, she didn’t have to pretend or “live up” to anyone’s expectations.

“The best comedy is based on realities,” Barrows said. “It was kind of this aha moment where I realized I didn’t have to hide my insecurities, I could actually talk about them. And people could relate because we all have our own.”