Deon Cole on humor, safe spaces, free speech

Photo courtesy of NBC

Wikipedia often offers a litmus test for how well-known something is: the length of their article. However, there is another measure: trolls. Recently, Deon Cole’s page was the target of angry internet users. A small rant appeared at the tail end of his biography with a snarky tone calling Cole a “Social Justice Warrior” among other intended insults.

“I state the obvious. I try to state it from a unique standpoint. But I wouldn’t say I’m political as a comedian,” Cole said.

Cole is currently on a hot streak. In the fall, he will be in several TV shows: “Angie Tribeca” produced by Steve Carell, “Black-ish” as well as its spinoff “College-ish” on Freeform and his own game show, “Face Value,” set to premiere on BET in the fall. To top it all off, he has a 30 minute set on Netflix as part of the new series “The Standups” and is currently touring the US. Still, he does what comedians do best: observe. He thinks we are at a pivotal point in American history.

“Right now we live in a tripped out time when it comes to freedom of speech and what you can say and what’s gonna touch a nerve and what’s not. It’s so f***ed up right now. Everyone is so appalled. And us comedians, we’re the last form of honest expression, and I think people need to embrace that sh*t. Music sucks, movies suck. We’re the last ones with a voice.

“I was having a conversation with Damon [Wayans] one day in New York. This was when that Malaysian plane was missing. I asked him, ‘Man, how you feel about that Malaysian plane? Do you really think it’s missing, or you think someone did something to it?’ And he says the most crazy sh*t ever. He goes, ‘I don’t really wanna give my opinion. I’m an American, I don’t have an opinion.’ And that was like amazing to me because it was true. Because you’ll get scrutinized. And I’m just like, ‘Well goddamn.’ And that’s how it really is nowadays.”

Unlike stereotypical comedians, Cole is an optimist. He believes in the overall goodness of people, not necessarily every individual. The far greater danger to our way of life is restrictions that disrupt progress. “Everyone can say what they feel. I’ll take that. As long as you have freedom of speech, I think it’ll be okay.”

At 45, Cole falls within a demographic where it is expected for him to be hard-headed, resentful of younger generations. He defies these expectations.

In a world where the legendary Katt Williams calls evolutionists stupid since “there are still monkeys,” Cole is refreshingly open minded. Eventually, when the topic of safe spaces came up, though he had not previously heard the term, he quickly made his own mental connection.

“I honestly think that safe spaces are a good idea. I’m not saying you only run with that crew or within that space and that’s all you do, but to be around people who think like you think and feel how you feel, yeah that’s great. Because then you’re never alone. You’ll always have someone by your side.

“What I don’t like is when they deal with those people and those people only within their organization. I don’t condone that at all. I think you need to hang out and mingle and do what you need
to do.”

Deon Cole is not an activist. His words are not meant to move you every time he speaks. But the most important thing for a standup is not having mind-bending, radical views: it is simply being funny. If you do not like Cole’s comedy, he has advice for you.

“If I go to the store and I see a bunch of Milky Way bars and I don’t eat them, I’ll walk by the motherf***ers and go right to the Reese’s cup! You know? Why am I gonna walk by the Milky Ways and say, ‘Get this bullshit outta here! Why would you sell this shit!’ It’s the same thing. Like, why you gotta be on my social media page telling me you don’t like it? Just keep it moving.”

For those who have not yet experienced Deon Cole’s shows- or Reese’s, both are an absolute must.