Chattanooga’s new funny girl finds her voice through art and comedy

Harmony Cardenas

Jennie Pleasure “JJ” Barrows was 28 when a therapist requested at what position she perceived she healthy the center-boy or girl syndrome.

“Well now,” she understood.

Considering that center faculty, she’d struggled with insecurities and doubt, emotion unheard, unseen and not able to locate her possess self-worth. She hopped from town to town and therapists and rehab as she dealt with depression and feeding on diseases. She was canine-paddling as a result of a choppy sea of thoughts browsing for an anchor in lifetime.

She discovered it through art.

Mining her life activities for product, she wrote comedy that was not only funny but relatable. She began exhibiting her abstract art, which experienced formerly been only a hobby due to the fact childhood. Up coming, she posted a motivational reserve that verified lifestyle is really hard but that there is hope and therapeutic in setbacks. Now the middle kid was observed and heard.

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Chattanooga’s new humorous lady finds her voice by art and comedy

Lifetime IN THE Center

Escalating up on Pawleys Island, South Carolina, Barrows was just one of four kids — all of whom had names that began with a B, apart from hers.

Her grandfather was Cliff Barrows, the nationally known song leader who traveled the place with the Reverend Billy Graham. It will come as no surprise, then, that her father followed him into the ministry and grew to become a Southern Baptist pastor.

Barrows describes becoming a preacher’s kid as “puzzling.”

“I didn’t like it because the church envisioned you to be excellent, and general public faculty predicted you to be a rebel. I know my moms and dads definitely liked me so I cannot blame them for my insecurities. So much is envisioned of a pastor, and my mother was boosting 4 young children beneath 5. I truly feel like the strain arrived from anticipations of community about what a preacher’s kid should be. I noticed my mom and dad fast paced, and I imagine I just went inward. I seemed for communities in which I could possibly fit, and I hopped about a lot.”

Immediately after high faculty, she attended the College or university of Charleston, then moved to Chicago to enter rehab for melancholy and an ingesting condition.

“Given that Chicago was the place I turned my lifestyle close to, I just stayed,” she suggests. But following four decades of difficult winters, the South Carolinian necessary a weather improve and she moved to Portland, Oregon, for art college.

“Absolutely everyone claimed I could not make a dwelling accomplishing artwork, so I took a position in graphic layout,” she says. When she dropped out of art college, she moved to San Diego, California, to support a good friend operating with significant-college youth.

Saying she “fell in really like with the West Coast and the beach,” she also fell for Josh Newton when dwelling in Santa Barbara. Right after the two married, they decided to shift owing to the “crazy expense of residing” in Santa Barbara and the frantic rate of life there.

“We experienced visited Chattanooga and definitely believed it was cool. Also, it was nearer to home in South Carolina, but not Much too shut.”


HUMOR IN Day-to-day Lifestyle

Barrows claims she had no notion what she was getting into when she signed up for a stand-up comedy course in San Diego.

“The 1st day of class the trainer experienced all of us get up and say why we ended up there. Everybody had respectable solutions — like they had been motivated by Robin Williams — but me. I said, ‘I required treatment but couldn’t afford it.’

“Every person laughed. I understood then I could be myself. I could be genuine about my lifestyle, and folks could relate to it. It was incredibly therapeutic for me.”

The class used the full 6 weeks creating materials for a graduation showcase. She identified it to be nerve-racking, cathartic and “tremendous exciting.” Some dropped out alongside the way, but not Barrows — and she seemingly aced graduation.

“There was a guy there who had been on ‘Last Comic Standing.’ He asked if I wanted to open up at The Comedy Retailer in San Diego for him. When I realized these were strangers, and they continue to assumed I was amusing, I realized I was on to some thing. But I still thought of it as a passion, not a profession.”

Her existence activities from remaining a preacher’s kid to her admiration for her 98-12 months-outdated aunt who lives in a memory-care facility but is still sharp as a tack (“That’s Jedi,” she quips) provided a good deal of prosperity of material from which to attract.

She begun booking reveals, receiving the chance to do showcases. About two a long time into it “I realized I am essentially a comic,” she says.

Shortly immediately after shifting to Chattanooga final November, she booked a guest established at The Comedy Catch.

“She just wowed the viewers!” remembers Michael Alfano, co-operator of The Comedy Capture. “She is a incredibly superior writer and has high electrical power. Her comedy is cleanse, and she has a wonderful Southern flair,” he suggests, likening her to Karen Mills and Leanne Morgan. “My audiences like her and we are likely to attempt to shift her up the ladder as immediately as achievable to execute as regularly as her agenda permits.”



“I was the child who received into difficulty for coloring on walls,” Barrows laughs about her propensity for often drawing, hardly ever dreaming she could do it skillfully.

Following finding graphic artwork also confining for her creativity, she continued expressing herself by means of her artwork, gravitating to acrylics in splashy, vivid hues and portraits. She also brings together the two kinds in some of her perform. When she was 30, a buddy questioned if she desired to hold her get the job done in a display at a coffee store.

Her first clearly show was terrifying.

“I could not stand in that area when people ended up looking at my do the job. I felt like I was putting my journal on the wall,” she points out.

“But artwork helped prepare me for coming into the earth of comedy. Art is how I get thoughts out with out obtaining to use terms. It can be how I express myself when I do not have the text.”

Owning just moved in this article in November, receiving settled in a new house and traveling for comedy shows, she states she is only now beginning to discover the neighborhood art scene. The couple identified the Hunter Museum of American Art though on a wander downtown above Easter weekend.


HER Subsequent CHAPTER IN Existence

Barrows invested five yrs composing her 1st e-book by way of distinct seasons of her lifestyle. It was printed in fall 2019, only to have her guide tour canceled 5 months afterwards thanks to the COVID pandemic. That may well have been the remaining chapter for some aspiring authors, but not Barrows. She’s previously commenced her second.

She calls the first, “It can be Referred to as a Spade: A Collection of Tough-to-Tell Stories,” the impetus for her lifestyle motto: Tell it like it is. Simply call a spade a spade.

“It truly is a collection of short tales celebrating some moments, and grieving many others as you go as a result of the seasons of life. I want persons to know ‘you are deserving, you are loved’ simply because I didn’t. And I produced some definitely bad decisions because of that.

“As I received more mature and went through different forms of treatment and realized my voice was valid, I understood so lots of of us are indicating, ‘I’m fantastic,’ when we are not. I did not know it was Ok to not be Alright. It wasn’t a reflection of your religion if you weren’t great. As I wrote about this on my blog site, I found a lot more persons could relate. So now I call it like it is: Lifestyle is stunning, but also definitely challenging.”

Obtain JJ Barrows’ book and extra at

JJ’s Jokes

* On her career: I am a complete-time artist, which also suggests I have four part-time positions. Four several years of college — and I got a occupation for just about every 12 months.

* On becoming lifted in the Baptist church: 1 lady told me she put me on a prayer chain. Let me tell y’all something, I think in prayer, but that’s THE Final place you want to be is on a Southern woman’s prayer chain! Because all that indicates is “I will notify most people your company.” Amen!

* On favored Southern colloquialism “Bless your heart:” If any individual at any time states “Bless your heart” to you, they are not currently being nice to you. No, they feel sorry for you, but they are getting awesome about it. When people from my hometown heard I had moved out to California and bought involved in things like yoga, they have been like, “Oh my word, she’s accomplished long gone to the dim side..bless her heart.”

* On her expectations if she dies prior to her spouse: I am not the sort of lady who, if nearly anything at any time took place to me and I handed away initial, would say, ” I just want my man to be satisfied and I hope he moves on and fulfills an individual new.” No! I stated it in our vows, “Til loss of life do us element.” If I die in advance of you, get in the casket. We gotta go. We’re assembly Jesus at the same time!

Reprinted with permission from JJ Barrows

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Image contributed by Josh Newton / JJ Barrows performs at the Laughing Gas Comedy Club in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

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