One of the rising stars on the STL comedy scene is comedian Jovan Bibbs. Although he has gotten his feet wet for a few years, this handsome funny man has been in the trenches long enough to know the ins and outs of the laugh biz. Next month, Bibbs is about to branch out and get a taste of the national stage as he was recently booked to open for veteran comedian’s Tommy Davidson. Before he jet setted to start his journey to the big time, OUTTOWN sat down and spoke to Bibbs about how his start into comedy, the pressures to be funny and how he’s become one of St. Louis’ most sought after comics.
OT: Is Jovan Bibbs your real or stage name?
JB: Its my real name. Jovan, like the cologne.
OT: Are you from St. Louis?
JB: Yes, born and raised.
OT: What high school did you attend?
JB: Hazelwood Central
OT: When did you become interested in comedy?
JB: When I was little watching Robin Harris on TV and cussin’ getting in trouble for it. I always wanted to make people laugh. That was always a fun thing for me.
OT: How long have you been doing comedy professionally?
JB: This is my fifth year.
OT: What was your first gig?
JB: The Funny Bone at Westport, It was Amateur Nite on a Tuesday. I went up and got a real good response. It was there when I first met (comedian) boy Arvin (Mitchell).
OT: Have you ever bombed on stage?
JB: Oh yeah, definitely, I bombed at Jessie(Taylor’s) spot at The Spotlight, If you do The Spotlight and you’re good, that means your funny. The Spotlight is definitely like the Apollo. I went up that nite and I was on stage, and the joke I was telling really wasn’t working that nite. I said one joke and no one didn’t laugh and then someone said something to me in the audience and I said, “Man someone needs to hit you in the head with a Moet bottle.” Then somebody on the left side said , “No, somebody needs to hit you in the head with Moet bottle.” Next thing you know, it was like nine boos. Then the nine turned into nine times three, then everybody booed me. I didn’t even say my name I just said “All right thank you” and jumped off the stage and stayed in the back of the stage the whole time.
Bibbs performing at the House of Comedy on the Landing in early 2008 (Photo by Ma'atology)
OT: How did that make you feel?
JB: I just felt like a boxer. You love to fite, You get knocked down but you gotta get back up. I’ve done The Spotlight plenty of times since then and did real good.
OT: What’s that your first time dealing with hecklers?
JB: Yeah, and they won that nite. It was a good experience, though.
OT: You said that you looked up to Robin Harris. Which other comedians do you look up to?
JB: Kenny Howell, Mike Epps, cats like Lavell Crawford, Darius Bradford, all those guys. Super funny. Corey Holcomb, Deon Cole. I like a lot of comics. I probably couldn’t give you my Top Three cuz I like so many comics. I’m just tryin’ to do my thing and try and be like them.
OT: In your experience with the comedy scene here in the STL, what are your thoughts about the progress of comedy here in the Lou?
JB: I think the comedy scene here has made a lot of progress since I’ve been in the game. All the young comics are becoming more unified We talk more and I think we have definitely grown.
OT: Have a comic ever bit your work?
JB: (laughter) Yeah, definitely. When I knew it happened, I just said, “ Man you can have that joke. I’m gonna make a funnier one next time.” I just have to make sure I’m on my Ps and Qs next time.
OT: Was it a joke or many jokes bitten?
JB: I’m gonna say a joke for sure but I know I’ve given people ideas before.
OT: Have you actually saw the comic steal your joke or someone told you someone stole your joke?
JB: I saw them on stage do the same joke. I would have said it wasn’t my joke if that person had done it differently but you know something is wrong when you know it’s yours. Its just like when someone steal your car and you see that car drive pass and you say “My car got that same chip right there.” That’s how I felt. I couldn’t believe it.
Bibbs performing at a party at I AM Boutique in Clayton in late 2007 (Photo by Ma'atology)
OT: Did you confront the comic?
JB: No, I didn’t just cuz I was told by another comic not to do it cuz I was up and coming.
OT: So they were established?
JB: (Pause) Somewhat yeah. I would say that.
OT: What inspires you to write a joke?
JB: If I run pass something funny or say something funny throughout the day If I think its funny like genuinely funny not just people laughing just because, I’ll try and use it. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. For the most part, I’m pretty consistent on that, Watchin’ the news, or general conversations.
OT: How do you structure your jokes when you write them?
JB: What I’ll do is, I’ll note them all on my phone. When I get home, I sit and go through my phone and look at them and dissect them and see which way I can go with them. I’ll call Arvin and go over jokes with him or (comedian) Deandre and help me out.
OT: What topics do you focus on in your jokes?
JB: I just like to take it left field. The way we look at things. Things that women can do but men can’t do or vice versa. Just in general, l I try to do jokes about what people are thinking but not sayin’. Like clean clothes or “Have you ever left your cell phone all day and came back to it and checked it and had no missed calls on it?” That kind of stuff. The truth. When people can say, “Yeah I sure have done that.”
OT: There’s have been many criticisms that Ive heard comics say on stage, even Arvin, about people complaining that comics say the same jokes on stage but don’t complain when a singer sing the same songs.. What are your thoughts on that?
JB: I feel like you try something new…compared to singers I mean, like, you don’t go to a Nelly concert and then if he sings “Country Grammar” and you don’t go “OH MY GOD, he’s doing that song again????” You don’t get mad at that, It’s a hit song. But I try to do something new each time I’m up so people won’t say, “Oh, I heard that joke, but I haven’t heard that joke.”
(LEFT) Bibbs with from left: House of Comedy owner/ comedian Dee Lee and general manager/comedian Longhorn in summer 2008 and (BELOW RIGHT) with comedian Kyle Grooms in early 2007 at the former Laughs on the Landing.
(Photos by Ma'atology)
JB: Yep, we were on the same episode.
JB: That was one of the best experiences ever for me as a comic cuz I was only been in game for like a year. I got picked up by some of the talent scouts at BET after I did (BET’s) “Coming to the Stage” when I auditioned here in St Louis. The producers of “Comin’ to the Stage” remembered me, gave me props, and called me about “Comic View,” so I sent in my demo and BET called me when I was at work, and told me I made one of the New Faces of Comedy on BET. I was so happy. So I drove down to New Orleans for that. I got to network with a lot of young comics and vets and got insight. The whole experience on TV is different seeing it on TV than actually being on there. A lot of cameras on stage revolving…. I’m thinking to myself , “It will be like Blueberry Hill,” I had to keep sayin to myself. Man, I got on that stage, I was like,”OH MY GOD, so many people out there, thousands everywhere.” I just had go out there. I had to have a set and I said to myself, Do not…go out there with what you rehearsed, think about it in your head.” I did my thing and got a super super good response
OT: Do you have any upcoming gigs?
JB: I got booked to open up for Tommy Davidson in February . I am also doing the Bay Area Comedy Competition in Oakland (Feb. 12-16). They are picking 60 comics and out of the 60 only a couple are goin’ to the finals. It’s like “Last Comic Standing.” I sent in an audition tape to get picked.
JB: Yeah I did audition before. Me, Carmen and Deandre went up in Chicago like seven in the morning. And it was about 200 in that line. This was about two, three years ago. We waited in line. I was like number 80. I did that and the thing was you go in this room and there’s two people there at the table and I didn’t wanna offend nobody and I didn’t even know the joke I did, but it didn’t work. The guys were saying, “OK you’re not what were looking for.” I just said, “ Oh, ok thank you.” I wasn’t mad or nothin’. If it ain’t your time, it ain’t your time. Maybe it wasn’t my time.
OT: What do you see yourself in the next 5 to 10 years with your career?
JB: I plan on bein’ on TV more, well established in the comedy game and havin’ a couple of movies under my belt.
OT: What’s the last CD you picked up?
JB: I picked up another copy of Nas’, “ Stillmatic” at Vintage Vinyl.
JB: “Notorious.” It was good . I liked it
OT: Whats your favorite pig out food?
JB: Turkey burgers and fries.
OT: What’s; your motto?
JB: I’m a hooper. People who know me, know me from basketball. Shooting guard. I hoop and I draw. I woulda done ball professionally, but that wasn’t my calling. I love comedy. I want people to be like “Jovan Bibbs, oh yeah, I know him, he’s funny.
To contact Jovan go to www.myspace.com/jovanbibbs To book him contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org