Rising comedy star brings stand-up routine home

FRIDAY, JUNE 14, 2013

Kelsey Cook is a professional foosball player.

It says so, right there on her Twitter profile (@KelseyCook).

But she’s also an up-and-coming stand-up comedian. She’s performed at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles and the Improv in Hollywood. She was selected to participate in the 2012 She Devil Comedy Festival NYC in New York and was a runner up at the Hollywood Comedy Competition in 2011.

Now the Washington State University graduate and Seattle resident, who grew up in Cheney, is one of three comics on the bill of Saturday’s Bada Bing! comedy show at the Bing Crosby Theater.

It’s possible Cook inherited her penchant for performing from her father, Christopher Cook, who has one of the most eclectic résumés in town: trumpet player for the Spokane Symphony, music instructor at Gonzaga University, slam poetry champion, poet, one time international yo-yo champion and, yes, professional foosball player.

Cook got her start in comedy after realizing that her plan to major in math and become a high school math teacher was not a good idea.

“I always laugh now – ‘What was I thinking?’ ” she said. After a class with a particularly challenging professor left her brains bleeding out her ears, she took refuge at Cable 8, the student-run cable channel in Pullman, doing what she calls humorous on-camera stuff.

She switched to the broadcast production program and started working with the student improv troupe.

“They had a monthly open mic in the cafeteria,” she said. “It was probably the worst place you could start in comedy, but it gave you a thick skin real fast.”

A scholarship to live in Los Angeles for a summer internship cemented her desire to pursue a comedy career, she said, as she did stand-up on her off time.

Upon her return to Pullman, she started a weekly comedy show with other comedians at a campus bar. “It ended up being a great success and it was a lot of fun.”

After graduating in 2011, she moved back to LA, hated it, and relocated to Seattle.

She cites Louis C.K. and Amy Schumer as her big comedy heroes and describes her style as observational – like Louie C.K. – and “charming but a little bit dirty.” She goes for edgy and smart, not shock comedy.

She made waves earlier this spring – and got 135,000 YouTube hits – when she took on a sorority girl who’s profanity-laced email about her sorority sisters went viral. Yahoo embedded Cook’s video in a story about the brouhaha, calling it “scary-funny.”

“That was the highlight of my career so far is my video being on Yahoo’s front page,” she said. “It was an incredible moment for me.”

Now she’s gearing up for a homecoming show.

“I am so excited for the show.” she said. “I have Spokane-related material in my act already and it’s always that much more popular in Spokane because Spokanites are good sports. They can take a joke. And I make fun of myself being from Spokane.”

Cook is quite familiar with the other comedians on the bill. She’s engaged to Kane Holloway, who has been doing comedy for five years. And she’s opened for Dwight Slade several times.

“He’s one of my favorite comedians,” she said.

As for foosball, she still travels to tournaments, just like her mom and dad. And the yo-yo? Her dad did teach her some tricks, but don’t expect her to whip out a Duncan and start walking the dog while she’s on stage.

“I’m not very good at them,” she said with a laugh.

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