Junior Jesse Riback said he is no stranger to making people laugh on Elon University’s campus. Head writer of Elon Tonight and founder of JRibs Entertainment, Riback said he enjoys making comedy content, whether it is through music or videos.
“I want to be a comedy writer, and it is hard to get exposure right now if you are not on TikTok or Youtube or things like that,” Riback said. “So basically, I wanted to get myself out there, and who knows, something could go viral. That is the ideology.”
His TikTok, @jribscomedy, consists of videos of him walking around campus, interacting with Elon students and promoting his songs.
“I’m using funny songs, but I’m still telling stories in a way,” Riback said. “I still think that they are enjoyable to listen to even though they are not Bob Dylan-esque ; they are JRibs-esque .”
Riback shares his message with satire in his music. Riback said one of his popular songs called “Drugs Are Bad” tells the story of someone who ends up in the hospital due to drugs and turns their life around. Then, that person becomes a motivational speaker and spreads the word about how drugs are bad.
Riback said he wants his music and his content overall to exhibit a positive message through the lens of comedy.
Riback’s collaborator sophomore Benji Stern said he appreciates the story underneath Riback’s comedy.
“I think all good comedy probably includes some sort of underlying message. If it is just jokes, what differentiates that from anything else? That’s not really where the comedy comes from,” Stern said. “When you have that positive message, just some sort of lesson to be learned … that’s when it is the funniest, original and true to yourself.”
Stern said he has been friends with Riback since his freshman year and has now become a frequent collaborator as well as a close friend. Stern said every week, they come together to brainstorm ideas for sketches. Stern said he likes to work with Riback because he makes him feel comfortable to be himself.
“When you are writing jokes, not everything is going to hit, and a good writing partner will let you fail and figure it out. He lets me do that. It is really nice,” Stern said.
Riback said he plans to collaborate with local band Thistle Ridge on a song he wrote called “Space Monkey.” He said he is currently making another song called “Daddy’s Money.” All of the songs and sketches Riback has created are under his own production company, JRibs. His music can be streamed through Apple Music and Spotify under the name JRibs.
“JRibs is a comedy powerhouse where any ideas are open for the table and can be discussed, thought about and improved upon. You name it, JRibs can do it,” Riback said.
Riback said he is looking for anyone dedicated to the mission of making people laugh. JRibs Entertainment was founded in November 2022, according to Riback. Elon Tonight and his production company worked on a mockumentary in May called “Ribs to Riches.” Riback said this year, his goal is to create a JRibs comedy hour, consisting of sketches and music videos that would come together to tell a story.
“The more you scroll, the more you get further and further removed from today’s world, so I wanted to distract people and give people a smile and purpose,” Riback said.
Riback said he started all of this to make the world a brighter place. Whether it is through his music or TikTok page Riback said he just wants people not to take everything so seriously all the time and to be able to laugh.
“The world is really hard, difficult, and stressful,” Stern said. “It brings a lot of light, joy and laughter into people’s lives. He’s still working on his craft and getting there, but he’s doing what he can and is doing his best.”