Every other sentence out of Deon Cole’s mouth is riddled with an infectious giggle that, given the chance, will make anyone listening burst into laughter. Which is fantastic for a phone interview, as the Black-ish star’s giddiness will turn any conversation into an all-out joke fest. This happened back in January when I talked with the actor ahead of Angie Tribeca‘s weekend-long first season marathon in January. And again when Cole called me the other week to discuss his first one-hour stand-up special, Deon Cole: Cold Blooded Seminar, which premieres June 25 at midnight on Comedy Central.
Cole began as a stand-up during the mid ’90s in Chicago, but caught his first big break as a writer for The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien and, for a time, Conan on TBS. Yet most audiences know him as Black-ish‘s MVP Charlie Telphy, and Angie Tribeca‘s DJ Tanner, a police detective with a dog for a partner who does people things better than most people. Along with a role in Barbershop: The Next Cut, Cole’s career thus far has mostly been about acting. But as the comedian reminded me, stand-up has always been his favorite. That, and President Obama.
Why’d you film Cold Blooded Seminar in Washington, D.C.?
I knew it was Obama’s last year in office, and I just waned to be near that. I thought if we could do it near Capitol Hill, that’d be great. So when they said the [Lincoln Theatre] was open, I said “let’s do it!” It was just that simple.
You start with a bang, especially with your cold peanut butter gag. Not sure I can eat the stuff ever again.
[Laughs.] That’s great, yeah buddy! It’s all about that cold peanut butter.
How’d you find time for the special in your busy schedule?
We were filming Barbershop: The Next Cut in Atlanta and they told me Comedy Central wanted me to do this. So we started looking at venues and dates, hoping to time it with the film’s release, but it ended up coming out later. I haven’t done one of these ever because I’ve just never had the time. That’s the only reason why I’ve never done an hour special. But we found some time in February, when I was done shooting Angie Tribeca and Black-ish, and went straight to shooting the special. As long as it was all back-to-back like that, I didn’t mind it.
Do you prefer working like that?
Yeah. I’m the type of person who, if I’m driving my car and it runs out of gas, as soon as it stops I’m getting a gas can and walking. I’m not going to sit there thinking, “What am I gonna do?” I’m walking. I knew I was going to hit the road after it all, so I knocked everything out so that when the special came out, I’d have some new material for the road. I’m up to 35 new minutes, and I just need another 10 minutes to get it to where I want it for the next special. Then I’ve got some other new stuff but I haven’t tried it out yet, so hopefully it’ll work when I try it.
Cold Blooded Seminar has a great balance of prepared bits and audience interaction.
I really like interacting with the audience, especially with Cold Blooded Seminar‘s question bit at the end, because it gives the sense that we’re here to learn. It lets people know about the ways I look at certain things, and it keeps them intrigued. I always thought that asking questions at the end was a cool way for doing a stand-up show. It’s unique and different, and helps reiterate what’s been said, as if we were in a class. [Laughs.] And people love it when I do my recap at the end of the show, joking about what we’ve already joked about.