PROVO, Utah — These days it’s getting hard for BYU student and Humor U. comedian Stephen Jones to walk around campus, or Provo for that matter, without getting noticed.
Jones’ popularity can easily be traced to what he’s best known for in Happy Valley, being able to make others laugh, whether it be by dancing to a Beyonce hit or impersonating President Obama on stage.
“Stephen is Stephen. He just has such a big presence that you can’t ignore it,” said fellow Humor U. comedian, Jefferson Snow. “He’s always animated, always opinionated and always in your face ready to talk. That’s just him.”
For many, it’s easy to notice the positive impact and difference Jones has made at BYU through his personality and humor.
Although it may not be as easy to notice, Jones said what BYU and the LDS Church has given to him has far exceeded what he’s given back.
Jones, a native of Tallahassee, Fla., grew up in an LDS family, but that’s where the similarities end when one thinks of a stereotypical BYU male.
“I come from a single (parent) home; both of my parents have been married twice,” Jones said. “Statistically, I should have like five illegitimate kids.”
Luckily for Jones, certain events in his life and great influences at BYU have helped the lively psychology major overcome the statistical odds stacked against those who come from a broken family background.
“The whole BYU atmosphere, being surrounded by people who want to be successful and live the gospel, it’s changed my perspective,” Jones said.
On top of having been surrounded by great peers, Jones attributes his success to a special turning point in his life.
“I was reading Psalms 10:48 one time where it says to be still and know that I am God,” Jones said. “It changed everything. I learned that God knows exactly what I’m doing.”
The understanding that God knows him and has a sure hand in his life has given Jones the confidence to participate in activities such as performing for Humor U., where he’s influenced many through his talents.
“He has such fantastic stage presence,” said Katie Jepson, whose husband performs for the stand-up comedy club as well. “You feel like you’re there in the story. He’s really charismatic and enthusiastic.”
Lately, his charisma and enthusiasm have expanded beyond Provo to a national and global stage. Jones and the BYU media department made national headlines this summer as they played up the Harold B. Lee Library and studying in their parody of the new Old Spice commercials.
According to Jones, the timing of the parody and its release by the media department of the library was like “striking a match when the iron is still hot.”
To put it plainly, it didn’t take long for the video to spread on CNN and YouTube.
“I try to tell people about the Old Spice thing,” Jepson said. “Everybody I’ve asked has seen it. They all think it’s hilarious.”
For Jones, though, the quick exposure of his instant hit has been somewhat of a surprise.
“It’s weird to think there is some kid in Egypt seeing that junk and thinking that’s funny,” Jones said. “You can see people in Egypt, Iceland, Poland and England sitting there chilling. That’s crazy. That’s crazy.”
Many are hoping that this recent attention can lead to bigger and better things for Jones in the future.
“I’m glad for him that it took off,” Snow said. “I hope it opens doors for him to have more opportunities to be an entertainer.”
For now, Jones is grateful for all the chances he has already had to make others cry from laughter and knows that opportunities can only present themselves as long as he continues to make an effort to try — a lesson he hopes students everywhere learn.
“I think sometimes we don’t realize our own potential,” Jones said. “Things happen when you act. You have to put your own effort in, and then the Lord can magnify that.”
Currently Jones does his best to make an effort to succeed as he and seven other BYU students founded The Left Field Stand Up Comedy this past fall.
A traveling ensemble of Mormon comedians united over a commitment to perform clean, family-friendly material, The Left Field Stand Up Comedy has found much success as "the cleanest stand up comedy club in the world", performing for thousands of people in a weekend.
This weekend Jones will join The Left Field Stand Up Comedy as they perform three shows in Salt Lake City.
The Left Field will perform three shows at Jeanne Wagner Theater in Salt Lake City: Friday, Jan. 14 at 9:30 p.m.; and Saturday, Jan. 15, at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Tickets for each show can be purchased at the door or at www.arttix.org where the promo code "BEARS" can be typed for 20 percent off.
Daniel Ng is a Communications major (senior) at BYU emphasizing in Print Journalism who has been to many Humor U. shows and knows Stephen through mutual friends.