Deon Cole — a stand-up from Chicago who got his big break when Conan O’Brien hired him to write for The Tonight Show — has spent almost two decades crafting his writing and acting abilities to perfection. He wrote for Conan after the move to TBS and for O’Brien’s appearance at the 2013 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, in addition to appearing on his own show, Deon Cole’s Black Box. Cole also starred in the first two Barbershop films and the ABC comedy Black-ish. Now he’s playing police detective DJ Tanner in Angie Tribeca.
One of the more prominent features of the new TBS show is a dog cop who “does people things.” And whenever Hoffman (Jagger) appears in advertising for the Steve Carell and Nancy Walls-produced comedy, his partner — the human detective Tanner — is always by his side. This is exactly the kind of satirical, goofy and downright silly scenario viewers should expect from the show, and as Cole told Uproxx over the phone, he feels incredibly lucky to be a part of it, even the 25-hour live marathon he’s hosting from Sunday, Jan. 17 at 9 p.m. ET to Monday, Jan. 18 at 10 p.m. ET on TBS.
I didn’t realize the marathon was a live event.
Live, all day.
You ready for that?
Yeah, man. We’re in rehearsals now, so we’ll see what happens. You can rehearse as much as possible, but anything goes. It’s going to be wild.
Have you ever done a live show of this scale before?
No, I haven’t, but as far as my experience goes, I’ve got plenty of it with single takes on Conan. When I was writing for Conan O’Brien, when we taped the shows, we’d do single takes only. It has to happen right then and there on the spot. Yeah, it airs later, but we would tape in real-time, so I’m used to the same pressures as doing a live show.
How are you going to stay awake?
I’m just going to sleep in between shows, wake up and do what I do. [Laughs.]
Whether scripted or improvised, doing comedy with people is probably a lot easier than with animals. What was it like working with Jagger the dog?
It was fun! The dog was excellent. He was younger when we started, so now he’s more relaxed than he was at first. Earlier in the game, he was all over the place, but he’s awesome now. It’s amazing what they were able to make the dog do. He drinks coffee, uses a computer, drives cars — it’s funny what he does.
Will he be at the marathon?
Yeah! Absolutely. You can’t have the special without Jagger.
How did you get involved with Angie Tribeca?
I had just finished my show, Black Box — which only had a six-episode deal at TBS — and we were trying to figure out what I was going to do after that. Was I going to go back to Conan and write? What was I going to do? So, in the midst of that limbo, a producer friend of my manager asked if I could come audition for a new show he had with Steve Carell. I went and auditioned, and it went so off the rails that Steve decided he wanted me to be a part of it. I had auditioned for the lieutenant, but I didn’t get the part, but Steve liked me so much he ended up writing me a part.