Moontower Review: Deon Cole
Black-ish star delivered the set the audience wanted
By Dina Barrish,
8:10AM, Tue. Apr. 26, 2022
Deon Cole is an expert entertainer. Since hitting fame in ABC's Black-ish, the former Conan writer has become a touring stand-up star. At Moontower Just For Laughs last Thursday night, he strutted out from the wings to explosive applause: The audience knew exactly who they came to see, and Cole did not disappoint.
He delivered his sets — largely surrounding race, identity, relationship stereotypes, and sex — with a curated performer’s flair.
According to his opener, Ocean Glapion, Cole got into show business only to compete on Family Feud. Glapion, a longtime friend of Cole’s, kicked off the show with quirky stories about his past, political commentary covering the need for vaccines and the ridiculousness of people wearing masks alone in their cars, jabs at Pete Davidson, and more. In the sparse moments where the laughs didn’t meet his expectations, Glapion had no qualms confronting his audience. “Fuck y’all, that was brilliant,” he retorted to scattered chuckles after a “sleepy Joe” bit. “It’s just me for 30 minutes. I could tell knock-knock jokes.”
When Cole caught people chatting during his routine, he was similarly less-than-hesitant about calling them out. A mark of skilful showmanship, the Chicago-based comic worked the levels of laughs into his bits. He weighed the hysterics after his “have you ever seen a fat bitch at Whole Foods?” one-liner against his set about “lonely bitches,” producing even more of an uproar once he exposed everyone for relating too much to loneliness.
Throughout the show, Cole successfully played on racial tensions to the point of discomfort. He catered a substantial amount of material to Austin’s Black community while still remaining relatable and compelling to anyone else.
Following cheers and hoots of approval, Cole thanked the audience for “testimonials,” brilliantly allowing live feedback to enhance the credibility and engaging nature of his performance. He even felt comfortable enough to test new material onstage. Adding rhythm to his show, he took a pause from the dramatics, sliding his phone out of his pocket to read off a series of deadpans and general queries, including asking Hispanic audience members if the phrase “no way, Jose” is racist. (They unanimously shouted “no,” for minority groups, just white people aren’t allowed to say it.)
To wrap up, Cole gave a surprising instruction — no applause — before imparting a profound message about the state of comedians today and sharing that he’s endured a year of personal loss. “Show comedians love, because you never know what they’re going through before they come out onstage,” he said. “The job is to perform, to make people smile and feel happy, even when they themselves are dealing with hard times.”
Moontower Just For Laughs 2022, April 13-24. Tickets and info at moontowercomedyfest.com.
Find all our news, reviews, and interviews from the fest at austinchronicle.com/moontower-comedy-festival.