University of New Mexico graduate student, Jesse Barben, is a man of many talents. Beneath the surface of this family man lies the heart of a comedian.

He starred as the headliner for the comedy show at the Rio Bravo Brewing Company Friday evening.

At 11:10 p.m. Barben took to the stage as he explored the variety of challenges that came with being a family man, all the while reflecting his own personal experiences as both a child and an adult, highlighting the past and present in a comedic light. The audience responded positively with laughter following the majority of Barben’s jokes.

Before the show, Barben spoke with the Daily Lobo to give some insight on how he became a comedian.

As a nontraditional student at UNM, he currently moonlights as a comedian in Albuquerque, he said.

Barben has been involved in comedy on and off for about 10 years but has been in Albuquerque for about a year and a half, currently working on his master’s degree in accounting at the Anderson School of Management, he said.

He has performed at the Rio Bravo Brewing Center before and said they generally have a show every Friday.

“I’ve liked comedy since I was a little kid,” Barben said. “But I never really new how to do it, because I was growing up in the ’90s, and there wasn’t the internet, so I didn’t really know how to look up things.”

His first comedy show was at a poetry slam, he said.

“I got up and was talking about problems I was having as a undergraduate student — tuition and gross roommates, and people sort of laughed, but it was mostly just a bomb, because people weren’t there to see jokes, but even the few laughs I got were very encouraging,” Barben said.

His first true break in the world of comedy came when the university he attended started having a comedy show titled “Sit Down for Stand Up,” he said.

“That went very well, and I think it was because I kind of already embarrassed myself at the poetry slam and other venues, and I had a good set of jokes a little down,” Barben said.

The show was taped, and he said it even received laughs from his father.

“It felt like a validation for a silly hobby,” Barben said.

While he continues to pursue a career as an accountant, Barben said he would love to perform comedy as well.

“I’m not at a point in my life where I could tour and go to different towns, but I think I would always love to do shows in Albuquerque and the surrounding area,” he said.

Barben said that it is a rush to perform and get laughs from the audience.

“It feels like your work has paid off, and it’s good to connect with people and find things that you think are funny, but a whole room of people will also think is funny is kind of a thrill for me,” he said.

Nichole Harwood is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She writes for both culture and news. She can be contacted at or on Twitter @Nolidoli1.