Comedian, actor and writer. Deon Cole has worn each of these hats with pride. With credits across late-night television, scripted sitcoms and films of all kinds, connection and laughter come easy to Cole. He’s been recognized by the NAACP Image Awards, and has earned two Primetime Emmy nominations for his co-writing on Conan
Fresh off a recent campaign of comedic Old Spice ads and in the middle of filming an Oprah Winfrey-produced remake of The Color Purple, Cole has returned to his roots as a stand-up comic and hit the road on tour, with Baton Rouge’s L’Auberge Casino the next venue in his sights for his observant comedic stylings.
Ahead of his Aug. 18 show, 225 had the opportunity to chat over the phone with Cole about what drives him as a comedian, what audiences mean to him and more.
Tell me a little bit about what inspires you comedically.
Cole: Life. Just everyday life.
Are there any particular comedians you grew up aspiring to be like?
Cole: It’s something somebody else pointed out that I had in me that I didn’t know. But it wasn’t like I grew up wanting to be a comic.
Moving into your current career, what is your favorite thing about being able to do stand-up for a living?
Cole: It’s therapeutic for me, to tell thoughts that I have and to talk to a group of people about them.
COVID put a damper on comedy performances for a little while. What have you noticed has changed since the pandemic?
Cole: How receptive the people are nowadays. People need to laugh more than ever, so there’s a lot of people, a lot of happier people. No one is taking nothing for granted; everybody is just having a super good time.
Tell us about a favorite project you’ve worked on. What stands out to you and why?
Cole: I can’t just name one thing. Everything complements the next, and without that thing, I probably wouldn’t have the next thing that happens. … Open mics were just as important as shooting a special. All of it were very important steps to where I am today, so I wouldn’t credit one special thing at all. It’s not what you do, but what you do last.
Who would you want to work with in the future, whether in acting or comedy, that you see yourself collaborating well with?
Cole: There’s a lot of people I would love to work with. Hundreds of people, absolutely! I would like to work with Don Cheadle, Sam Jackson, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Meryl Streep, Viola Davis, Denzel Washington.
Let’s bring it back to Baton Rouge. What kind of crowd are you expecting?
Cole: I think I am an acquired taste; you’ve got to have an acquired taste when it comes to comedy. Everybody knows, from the times that I have been down there, I have a specific vibe, man. The energy’s always good, sexy people, open-minded people, successful people, poor people, everybody is at the spot, and we just have a good time. Ain’t nobody bigger than the next person, we are all levelheaded, and we all just sit and laugh and think. I just loved open-minded people that come out.
What’s on your agenda for your trip down to Baton Rouge? Do you plan on just coming to see everybody and put on a good show, or do you plan to check out the sights?
Cole: I don’t have any plans. I’m just coming to have fun, have people take me out. We’re gonna hang out, that’ll be it, man. I love the city; I love the energy. I’ll just tap into that, bring my energy, blend it with their energy and just have a moment.
What advice do you have for comedians trying to make their name in the world?
Cole: The best thing I can tell people is that if you have a gift when it comes to comedy, acting or whatever it is that you do, you could have that gift and you could be the best in the world. And proving that to people is one thing that you need to do, but that’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is making others believe what you believe. And if you do that, then you’ll be successful.