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John Jacobs Featured on TBO

Comedian John Jacobs works to rebuild his career

Stand-up comedian and former MTV reality star John Jacobs returned to Tampa in October.

By Paul Guzzo

TAMPA — If you work in the world of entertainment, and you figure a gig on one of those popular but temporary reality TV shows might give your career a leg up, John Jacobs is here to tell you you’re right.

Up to a point.

For two years, Jacobs, a stand-up comedian, enjoyed MTV celebrity status from roles on “Are You The One?” and “The Challenge.”

From 2014-15, he headlined a national tour of colleges, performing for sold-out crowds of young people who clamored to see “MTV star John Jacobs.”

But now, a year removed from his last appearance on MTV, the University of Tampa graduate says his career has taken a step back. The touring has ended. Fewer people seem to recognize him with each passing day.

He’s now working his way back up through open mic nights in Ybor City.

“The TV power ran out,” said Jacobs. “I still have people approach me from time to time and say things like, ‘Hey, weren’t you on something at some point?’ ‘Yeah,’ I’ll tell them, ‘I was on a thing.’ ”

Don’t feel sorry for Jacobs, though. He doesn’t.

For starters, at just 26 and eight years into his career, he has a résumé many young comedians would covet. He has opened for stars such as Pablo Francisco, Margaret Cho and Chris Kattan.

“I have no worries,” he said. “I realize if I want to make something of myself I need to do it myself. That’s what I’m doing now.”

Recently, he launched two weekly open mic nights in Ybor City that are restricted to comedians with experience. One is held Mondays at 9 p.m. at the James Joyce Irish Pub, the other is Wednesdays at 6 p.m. at Liquid Tampa.

His goal is to establish an event seven nights a week, each at a different venue, and to host them all. The schedule will be at

“John Jacobs has done a great job in helping build the comedy scene in Tampa,” said Joe Riga, who with Jacobs is a member of Cigar City Comedy, a collective of local stand-ups who promote one another’s careers and events. “The fact that we’re adding two new weekly shows is evidence that the city loves comedy.”

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