Cole Escola’s comedy defies categorization

Absurd, surreal, camp – it’s hard to define a definition of the genre of comedy performed by Cole Escola, but you could argue that the performer’s humor laid the groundwork for “Brooklyn alternative comedy” 15 years ago. years ago, when they first arrived in New York.

In 2005, Escola moved from Oregon to New York for college and after a year of school they couldn’t afford it anymore, so they gave up. At this point, they had two options: stay in New York and try to make things work, or return to Oregon for community college. They chose the first. “I floundered,” Escola said over the phone. “I did a lot of odd jobs. I worked at the Scholastic Bookstore, a vegan bakery. I did sex work while working at the bakery “, they explained before specifying:” No To the bakery. Although it certainly would have made the ride a lot easier.

Everything started to change, however, when Escola met Jeffery Self, a dropout fellow who had no idea what he was doing and who is now Escola’s castmate on the HBO satirical series Max Millennial, Research group. “He believed in himself and he wanted to work in entertainment,” Escola said. “Seeing him go there kind of rubbed off on me. “

The two made videos together, with Escola often making an impression of Bernadette Peters (with whom the comedian would eventually appear alongside Mozart in the jungle), and uploaded them to YouTube, which turned into a sketch for Logo called Jeffery and Cole Casserole. Escola also took some of these characters to a live cabaret show at Joe’s Pub and continued to develop them on their YouTube account. The performer has turned his career into a series of eccentric supporting pieces on television over the past decade.

As a child, Escola would spend time watching old movies and pretending to be sick so that they could skip school every Monday for lunch with their grandmother and her friends, who in turn would serve as food. inspiration to some of Escola’s characters. videos. At first, their understanding of comedy was limited to the skits performed on Saturday Night Live– until they find the irreverent and quirky humor of Strangers with candy with Amy Sedaris and plays and performances by Charles Busch.

It is therefore fitting that Escola becomes a close friend and collaborator of Sedaris, after appearing with her on Difficult people and record a live podcast episode together in Brooklyn. “We were doing a podcast called Crybabies at The Bell House, and my dad was dying,” they explained. “She was making jokes about it, and it was so shocking and so funny that this person who is a hero and whom I have met twice is making jokes on me talking about my dying father. I just fell in love then.

Soon after, Sedaris and Paul Dinello developed their surreal housewife satire. At home with Amy Sedaris when they wrote a character just for Escola on the show. The couple had seen Escola’s frightening “Mom Commercial”, in which a mother tells a disturbing story while drinking orange juice. “It was one of those things where it was both like an amazing dream come true and also like, yeah, that’s exactly what I thought I should and would do,” Escola told About Chassie Tucker, Amy’s sassy neighbor on the show. .

At home with Amy Sedaris this is also where Escola first worked with Ann Dowd, who they play opposite again in this season of Research group. The third season of the Sedaris show and the fourth season of Research group were filmed simultaneously, and Escola found herself going back and forth between sets every other day.

In Research groupIn the third season of, Escola is introduced to audiences as “The Twink,” a catering server who ruins Elliott’s (John Early) marriage and stalks Dory (Alia Shawkat). The fourth season reveals that the identity of the deranged character is a wealthy descendant named Chip, and he kidnapped Dory a la Kathy Bates “saving” James Caan in Stephen King’s Misery. Dory remains confined in the basement of a Massachusetts house owned by Chip’s aunt, Lylah (Susan Sarandon) while Chip throws her psychobabble at her and tries to convince her to be his friend.

“Chip is so rich and spoiled that I wasn’t afraid to make him look likable,” Escola said. “But I feel a bit like the reverse of Chip, this white creature who belongs to high society,” they laughed. “Like, I always felt that as a kid. I was like, I’m on the wrong side of the rails! I identify with Chip’s rage over his fate in life, and inordinate rage. and displaced in the face of her situation.

Rather than being restricted by identity, gender or otherwise, Escola plays with these boundaries by portraying avant-garde and dysfunctional characters. There’s no formula for Escola’s creative process, but it often involves classic Hollywood vocal intonations and lots of wigs. And their particular brand of comedy can really shine on Instagram, where they introduced their hundreds of thousands of followers to the character of Toby, a straight brother auditioning for what the viewer. think is going to be a ‘gay for cash’ porn video (only to come up with a shocking and delicious twist in the end), or a 24 hour news cycle TV commentator letting you know the latest news that ‘poop has been tested positive for pee. “

As for Escola’s next projects, they are developing an animated series with Nick Kroll and the Big mouth team, writing for Ziwe Fumudoh’s new show, working with their friend John Early on a movie and shopping around a pilot presentation with Self. “I would love to play the role of a gas station attendant in the backcountry,” they said. “I feel like my teeth are good for this kind of game.”

And when asked if he was considering leaving the east coast for greener, easier pastures, Escola shrugged, “I kind of feel the same as Fran Lebowitz. I mean, where would I go? they laugh.

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