This review of Cole Escola Is The First Gay President at The Duplex Cabaret Theatre was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 5 (2015) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!
Cole Escola Is The First Gay President
Written & Performed by Cole Escola
The Duplex Cabaret Theatre
61 Christopher Street
New York, New York 10014
Reviewed 7/24/15 at 9:30 p.m.
Cole Escola is a very talented comedian, actor and writer who grew up poor in Oregon. For the first six years of his life, he lived in a trailer on someone else's property. His dad had P.T.S.D. from his service in Vietnam and was a big drinker. His mom brought him up along with his younger brother and older sister. Eventually, Cole made his way to New York City where he has lived for the past ten years. He was the co-creator, writer and star of the cult-hit television show Jeffery & Cole Casserole, which appeared for two seasons on Friday nights at midnight on LOGO. Premiering August 5, 2015 on Hulu, Cole will play Matthew on Difficult People, a show starring Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner about New York comedians who are completely lacking in self-awareness. He will play a waiter, who is the nemesis of Eichner's character. Cole Escola was recently named one of the Top Ten Downtown Cabaret Performers by Time Out New York and is an alum of the 2015 CBS Diversity Showcase. Given this history and the fact that every one of his previous monthly cabaret shows at The Duplex has been completely sold out made me want to go see what this young, hot, rising star had to offer.
There is no doubt that Cole Escola, who identifies himself as a "character actress," exhibits flashes of genius throughout the show such as when he refers to "the great humorist Joseph Stalin" or when he complains how "all these theatre people have created a culture of fear with their admonitions against photographing them on stage." Cole encourages his audience members to take photos of him and to post them on social media. He warns the dinosaurs performing on the New York Stage to "Adapt or Die!" Cole's sketch comedy show has absolutely nothing to do with him being the "First Gay President" and he basically appears as a variety of characters and speaks about whatever happens to be on his mind. Cole performs the whole show in briefs and then puts on costumes and wigs appropriate to the character he is about to perform whether that be a Southern Baby, A Woman Who Just Woke Up, A Goblin Wall Street Professional Who Lives In Hoboken, A Straight Teenage Boy, or a Housewife Living On A Horse Farm In New England. Given Cole Escola's boyish good looks, charm and charisma, performing in briefs was a brilliant, refreshing decision which basically relayed the message, "here I am, open and exposed, holding back no secrets from you." Recognising his own attractiveness, he tells the audience, "I'm not my first choice, but I would fuck me!"
On the negative side, Cole has not memorised the order of his sketches and very unprofessionally relies on his friend Christian, who sits on the side of the stage, to tell him what character he should do next. Christian also laughs at Cole's sketches many decibels higher than any audience member, which was quite distracting. While each of Cole's characters is unique and interesting, the scripts for most of the sketches need to be re-written so as to be sharper with more meaningful or twisted endings. If you are going to write an absurd story about a jealous horse, at least have the horse stomp the man to death, as opposed to shooting him and if a woman is getting ominous calls in a horror movie, you can do better than having the final call being from Terry Gross of Fresh Air. Funny? Yes. But not with the edge I expect from a budding genius.
Cole Escola inhabits his characters with an innocence and honesty that has made his monthly show at The Duplex Cabaret Theatre one of the hottest tickets in town. There is a perky, irrepressible brilliance about him that makes it highly likely he will become a huge success in the years and decades to come. He needs a manager and/or a collaborator with a good eye who can tell him what works and what doesn't work. I believe he may lack perspective in that area given the lavish praise and compliments he receives from his many devoted fans. But there is no doubt he is on the right track and has an amazing future in the industry. For more information about Cole Escola, visit his website at www.ColeEscola.com