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Television Tue Jun 04 2013

"Deon Cole's Black Box": Chicago Native Takes on Pop Culture In His New TBS Series

DC BLACK BOX.jpg Deon Cole. Photo: Jeremy Freeman/TBS.


Through his writing, commentary, and appearances in clips on "Conan," comedian Deon Cole, using his unique brand of humor, hilariously offers his views on subject matter that has included everything from political pandering to hurricane hardships. But for this native South Sider, sometimes, both comedy--and life--are more than just about the laughs. "I like to be in an environment that I can learn from," said Cole. "I hate when I'm the smartest person in the room because then I can't learn." Now, viewers can see even more of Cole and his perspectives in his new pop culture-themed television series, "Deon's Cole Black Box," premiering Monday, June 10 on TBS. Here, the two-time Emmy-nominee talks about creating the show, viral videos and fame in the digital age.

Without being totally presumptuous, how'd you come up with the show's title?

We thought of what we could do to make it different and at the same time, say a whole lot--we were thinking that if we were gonna be dealing with TV and different news stories and clips and stuff, we're gonna be doing it from a black perspective, and we just thought "Black Box" would be pretty cool. We didn't think about nothing else, I promise you. [Laughs].

In addition to writing for "Conan," you've also been featured in many clips on topics that strictly come from your perspective--would you say "Black Box" is sort of an extension of that?

Yes. Conan is the executive producer as well as Jeff Ross and I, and it was just something we all decided would be great. I went to them with the concept and then to TBS and Verizon, and we all collaborated together and came up with the show.

"Deon Cole's Black Box" will take comedic jabs and offer a more diverse take on pop culture, current events and more. Was there one thing or situation that sparked the idea for the show or was this something that was brewing in your mind for a while?

It started from a situation when I was writing for Conan and just thinking of new ways and different angles to get news and stories. Me and my partner Doug Karo, who was also the "clip guy" on the "Conan" show, sat one day at lunch and I said "You know, I could comment on your clips." We did the back and forth thing with ideas and took it from a unique point of view and he said, "Let's do it." We went in and the rest is history.

There's always something fresh with pop culture; between the concertgoer who couldn't resist tapping Beyonce's butt or the upcoming birth of "Baby Kimye," you do know you're never going to run out of things to talk about, right?

I hope not! But this is a weekly show and I'm so used to putting together stuff everyday because that's how it is at "Conan"--we put stuff together every single day--so I think the hardest part now is just to put a week's worth of stuff into this one weekly show. We have it all together, so we've just had to glue the pieces.

One area the show will cover is viral video sensations like those made famous by folks like Antoine Dodd, "Sweet Brown," and of course, most recently, Charles Ramsey. Are videos like these gifts from the "comedy gods?"

[Laughs]. Yeah, they are definitely gifts from the comedy gods. But it's also a funny take on how they keep finding these kinds of people--is it like, a class that they take or something? Is it a certain time of day you go out in order to find these people? And not only are the people funny-it's also funny how the news people execute their stories with them. I find that hilarious!

Speaking of Charles Ramsey, what would have been the one thing "Black Box" would have pointed out that no other outlet did?

Personally, I probably would've pulled out the fact that--couldn't nobody hand him a rubber band? Out of all those interviews?

Or a nice little scrunchie, perhaps?

[Laughs] Yes! Nobody gave him a scrunchie at all! But he should know they didn't have his best interest [at heart] because they would have at least told him to do something with his hair.

What's your take on viral video sensations going on to claim all of their 15 minutes of fame? Sweet Brown's 'fame' landed her a small role in an upcoming Tyler Perry movie, you know...

Hey--we live in era now where anybody can be famous at any given time, whether they want to or not. It's just the times we live in.

With your work on "Conan" and six episodes of "Deon Cole's Black Box" on deck, you're staying pretty busy--what's next for you?

Right now all my focus is on "Black Box." I just want to be sure this is a great show.

~*~

Catch the premiere of "Deon Cole's Black Box" Monday, June 10 at 9pm on TBS. For more information, visit the show's website.

 

Duane / June 4, 2013 4:52 PM

Definitely will be watching this!!! Deon is one if my favorite comedians. Raw talent. Can't wait to see his show. He has a LOT of material to work with, as the interviewer mentioned!

Sherelle / June 11, 2013 12:20 AM

I enjoyed the show and look forward to the next episode.

Eric Maat / June 11, 2013 10:09 AM

I actually had some preconveived notions of this show before it aired. I once thought that the concept of this show would cater to stereotypical black culture, but it turns out, the first episode had a very diverse appeal to it. I figure as long as realistic, modern day comedians aren't living in the stone ages and catering to one specific demographic...like Cedric The Entertainer, then they will be just fine. Will continue watching Deon Coles show!

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Feature Mon Jun 09 2014

I Grew Up in a Big Ol' Gay Disco: an Interview with Oli Rodriguez

By H. Melt

Oli Rodriguez is an interdisciplinary artist working in film, photography, and performance. H. Melt sat down with him to find out more about his relationship to Chicago, the city's queer history, and how it impacts his artmaking.
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