August 16, 2023 | Album release
It’s Tuesday afternoon and Elise Cole is preparing for an absolutely insane week of comedy.
This Thursday night, she’ll be performing at the Six Points Theater (tickets are still available), and on Friday she’ll be headlining her sold out album release show at The Temple in St. Paul. But right now, she’s trying to focus on adjusting bike helmets and corralling her dog while her 15-month-old is napping.
“I can’t talk to you right now. I’m on the phone,” she tells her son, who is trying very hard to get her attention. “He just learned to ride a two-wheeler and needed to tell me that he did 11 single laps around the block, which is more than the number of fingers he has.”
She shooshes the dog before getting back to our interview.
“My personal life is my material,” she says.
Six years after starting stand-up, Cole is truly leveling up in all aspects of her career. Her debut album, Red Hot Dumb Dumbs, was released earlier this summer, she recently made the leap to feature act at Acme Comedy Company, and she’s beginning to headline shows in and around the Twin Cities.
“When I started this six years ago, I didn’t know if it would ever be possible for me to do this for a living,” she admits. “And now that’s on the horizon.”
Cole’s comedy is a kaleidoscope of her life. One moment she’s talking about the challenges of raising two sons, the next she is pontificating about overcoming antisemitic experiences, and the next she’s discussing dropping a toaster in the bathtub.
“My kind of main audience is women and men ages 35 to 55, who can identify with my kind of exasperated energy,” she explains. “Like, I would love to give you a hot take on current events, but I don’t have time to watch the fucking news. And now that I have two kids, I’m even more tired and more exasperated.”
Though the material on her album feels as though it’s describing her life in real-time, Cole actually recorded the album well over a year ago at Helium Comedy Club in Indianapolis. At the time, she was roughly seven months pregnant with a clear vision for who she is and how she wants to be portrayed by audiences. That said, she feels she’s come a long way in the past 17ish months since she recorded.
“When I went back and listened, I was like, ‘I’m so much better now than I was last spring,’” she says. “But I’m still proud of it and feel good about how it turned out, especially for being my freshman album.”
Aside from opening up about her personal experiences, Cole is also more than willing to dig deep into her ideological beliefs and feelings on the dreaded “cancel culture.”
“I talk about people being hyper-sensitive to content and making rules about who’s allowed to say what,” she explains. “Like, as a Jewish person, I’m sort of expected to be offended by things. But then in other instances I find that I don’t fall into some sort of protected class because I’m still considered white. So, it’s not so much cancel culture as it is my frustration with like, whose side are you on? Am I a protected person who is allowed to say things? Or am I not a protected person who isn’t allowed to say things? We have to be fair. Either everything gets censored, or nothing gets censored. Either everything is offensive or it’s not. Who gets to decide that line?”
Cole also examines her relationship with Judaism, which his especially fascinating given that both of her shows this week are in Jewish venues.
“A lot of my new stuff comes back to my encounters with antisemitism or having a mom who converted to Judaism and the ways I’ve dealt with people saying it’s a race and not a religion,” she continues. “That would disqualify my mom, and my sister-in-law and even myself because my mom converted so there are Jews who would say I’m not really a Jew. So, it’ll be interesting to see if a room full of Jewish people will identify with that or if they’re put off by it.”
Despite having just released her album a few short weeks ago, Cole says she nearly has the material for another album and is already thinking about recording it in early 2024. “18 months ago, when I was first asked to do 45 minutes, I spit out every joke I had and hoped it got me to a headlining amount of time,” she says. “Now I can pick and choose which 45 minutes of really good material I want to do.”
For now, however, Cole needs to go get her seven-year-old a snack. IF YOU GO: Elise Cole Six Points Theater Thursday, August 17 7:30 p.m. $20 Click here for tickets