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Comedian Deon Cole offers a different perspective

Colette Greenstein
Colette Greenstein has been a contributing arts & entertainment writer for the Banner since 2009. VIEW BIO
Comedian Deon Cole offers a different perspective
Deon Cole (Photo: Photo courtesy of Innovative Artists)

For comedian Deon Cole, success is all about having your own perspective or “putting your own spin on everything that you do.”

The comedian, who began his standup career when his friend bet him $50 to go on stage in Chicago, also has become a successful actor, writer and producer. In 2014, Cole appeared on the ABC hit comedy “Black-ish” as Dre’s (Anthony Anderson) co-worker Charlie Telphy on the episode “The Nod” that’s sure to be considered a classic someday. Prior to appearing on the sitcom, he was a writer for NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien” from 2009-2010 and on “Conan” from 2010-2011 on TBS.

He still performs bits and sketches on the late night show. He also created and hosted the 2013 series “Deon Cole’s Black Box,” where the comic offered his own take on pop culture.

The Chicago native is set to co-star along side Rashida Jones on the sitcom “Angie Tribeca” as LAPD detective DJ Tanner when it premieres on January 17 on TBS. Cole found out about the comedy when a friend told him that TBS was doing the show with Steve Carell. He was asked to come in and meet Carell.

“It wasn’t even an audition,” says Cole, in a phone interview with the Banner. “We just sat there and clapped and laughed and joked and had a good time, and went off all the rails of the script. We gelled so much that we came together.”

He originally read for a part of a lieutenant on the series but Carell didn’t want him to be “the average black hollerin’ lieutenant,” mentions Cole. The part that he initially auditioned for, he didn’t get. Instead, Carell wrote a part for him on the show because of “how they gelled.”

Pretty much the same thing happened with “Black-ish.” He initially was going to write on the show, and instead ended up playing Charlie on the comedy. As luck would have it, the actor who was supposed to play Charlie couldn’t make it and Kenya Barris, the creator of the series, asked Cole to step into the role because the two worked so well together. Charlie was an instant hit and Cole was asked to continue playing the colorful character, who overshares and isn’t aware of his boundaries.

On what he brings to his roles, Cole believes that “People look at me and go ‘Okay, that dude is a different kind of guy and I think we can work with him, and I think more than anything I think he can bring a different perspective.’”

In April, Cole will appear in the third installment of the “Barbershop” movies called “Barbershop: The Next Cut,” where he plays Dante, a regular at the shop. But before he hits the big screen in the spring, Cole is never far from standup. He’ll be in Boston on January 9 as part of Shaq’s All Star Comedy Jam at The Wilbur. Joining him on stage will be Bill Bellamy, Tony Roberts and tour host LaVar Walker.

Even with the titles of actor, writer, producer and host under his belt, standup comedy will always be something that he returns to time and time again. When asked about transitioning from being in front of the camera or on stage to solely being a creative force behind-the-scenes, Cole says, “Stand-up is what got me here. I’m always going to do stand-up.”