Cole Escola is ‘stuck’ in comedy

Cole Escola is ‘stuck’ in comedy

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You don’t do a mean impersonation of Bernadette Peters without winning adoring fans. Then again, that’s just one of the sassy (mostly self-created) characters that the newly legendary, dashingly elastic Cole Escola has made his own during his still-fresh sketch-comedy career. Yes, he’s appeared on television in Logo’s “Jeffrey & Cole Casserole” and Hulu’s “Difficult People,” but that’s too containing. Escola is best served hot in stage shows such as “Help! I’m Stuck!” which he’ll perform at Chinatown’s Good Good Comedy Theatre Aug. 19.

PGN: I can guess many of the worst things about coming from Clatskanie, Ore. What is the best thing about growing up gay in the Pacific Northwest?

CE: The weather. If you love being gay in the rain, that’s the place to be.

PGN: You really weren’t doing comedy very long before you got to co-create Logo series “Jeffery & Cole Casserole” in 2009. How did that happen so quickly?

CE: It’s funny you refer to it as a success because it aired Fridays at midnight on Logo. We also filmed it on the built-in camera of a MacBook and they gave us $1,000 to make the first season. We did it during time off from our day jobs. But it did feel like a success because we had our own TV show. And it did happen quickly. I could explain the boring steps it took, but in a nutshell, someone in charge must have been asleep. I think it was good for me because before that show, I wanted to write and perform but I thought I was stupid for wanting it. That show gave me a little push, just enough validation to make me believe I should try.

PGN: Did New York City just seem right when you arrived, or did you have to hands-and-feel-your-way around?

CE: Both. It definitely felt “right,” but I was also lonely and miserable for about the first three or four years. I had no close friends, I wasn’t writing or performing and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. That had less to do with New York than growing up, I think. Anyway, for a fall wedding you can’t go wrong with bisque … I’m sorry, I forgot the original question.

PGN: Where did you get your variety-show and cabaret sensibilities?

CE: It’s hard to say where sensibilities come from because being influenced isn’t really a conscious thing. Working alongside people like Bridget Everett and Erin Markey, I got to witness the incredible things that can happen when a performer commits to their instincts. I think maybe that influenced me. I also sit down to pee, so I spend a lot of time on the toilet. Maybe the toilet is an influence. Who knows?

PGN: What has Scott Wittman meant to your career? He directed you in shows such as “Rock Bottom” and “Jukebox Jackie.”

CE: Scott’s been another key figure in helping me believe I should be doing what I’m doing. He just finished working on the new “Mary Poppins” movie and wanted me to play Mary, but I couldn’t make it work with my schedule.

PGN: What was your inspiration for your show “Help! I’m Stuck!”?

CE: First, I came up with the poster. I thought it’d be stupid if my face was on every person in Norman Rockwell’s “Freedom from Want.” Then I thought “Help! I’m Stuck!” was a confusing name for a show so I named it that. Afterwards, I thought it made sense because it’s like I’m stuck in the poster, and in the show I’m stuck, in a sense, as all these characters. I like to work backwards like that. I like to figure out what would be fun for me to do and then figure out why it makes sense after, like, “Here’s a wig I want to wear, you tell me why I chose it!”

PGN: You seem to have nice hair to begin with — other than aiding in developing a character, why the wigs and the head wraps you seem to have made a signature?

CE: There’s really no reason beyond aiding in developing a character. Maybe I also have a spending problem. But there are worse things I could be spending my money on than auburn up-dos.

 

Cole Escola performs “Help! I’m Stuck!” at 10 p.m. Aug. 19 at Good Good Comedy Theatre, 215 N. 11th St. For more information or tickets, visit http://goodgoodcomedy.com.

 


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