Spokane comic Kelsey Cook didn’t know what to do with all of the adrenaline coursing through her body after slaying during a virtual gig at the Spokane Comedy Club last spring.
“It was different but amazing doing shows from my living room,” Cook said. “I used my cat tree as a mic stand and worked out my jokes. More than 800 people watched one of the shows by signing on to the Spokane Comedy Club website in the middle of COVID. That was so exciting. It was like a drug, like heroin. I had to walk that feeling off.”
Straight-arrow Cook, 31, who at her wildest consumed some marijuana edibles, has no concept of the sensation heroin provides. But she loves the feeling of delivering a stellar set in front of a large crowd. Many of her comic peers despise virtual performance and abandoned stand-up in 2020.
“Kelsey was great at the virtual shows,” Spokane Comedy Club owner Adam Norwest said. “She really was amazing.”
Delivering stand-up without an audience in the room isn’t easy, but the same can be said for attempting a career in the arts. Not all parents support their child’s risky dream, but it helps when your father is Chris Cook, a professional musician and Spokane’s poet laureate.
The Spokane Symphony trumpet player backed his daughter Kelsey when she decided to become a standup comic 11 years ago. “It’s fortunate that my dad is a full-time musician and pursued his passion for a living, so he understands me,” said Cook, who know lives in Los Angeles.
Chris Cook laughed when asked about his daughter’s drive as a comic. “Kelsey finds a lot of parallels between what I do and what she does,” Cook said. “She has always had such determination going back to when she was in school. And, while being a comic, she’s using her communications degree.”
Pragmatic and comic are typically mutually exclusive terms. The Cheney High School alum, class of 2007, was a math major at Washington State University before transferring to communications. “I love math, but I was super unhappy as a math major in my junior year,” Cook said. “I saw what math classes I had to take just to teach, and it wasn’t very appealing.”
Cook, who performs Friday and Saturday at the Spokane Comedy Club, switched gears and never looked back. “I discovered what I was meant to do with my life,” Cook said. “I couldn’t be happier.”
When Cook returns to Spokane, expect a set of fresh material. “I’ll be talking about how my life has changed since the pandemic started,” Cook said. “I got divorced the week before COVID hit. I had a lot of material about being married, so I had to write a lot of new jokes. What I do is very honest and very current to my life.”
Cook has always been very candid. One of her most popular bits is based on a very personal mishap that can be viewed on YouTube. “A lot of people have checked out my clip about when I masturbated and ended up in the ER. I like talking about things that are embarrassing that most people don’t want to talk about. But when you talk about those moments, there is power in making that stuff funny. We have to get over our shame.”
A bigger obstacle for Cook was getting over performing in small clubs in remote cities while cutting her teeth as a young comic. “It’s not easy starting out in this business,” Cook said. “I see how parents are afraid of their young daughter hitting the road performing in some weird places like a one-night show in a bar somewhere in North Dakota.
“This can be a very scary life. It’s not stable. There are no guarantees. But I’m not playing those strange places in North Dakota anymore. I have a career here in Los Angeles, and I’m coming home to perform in Spokane.”
Count on Chris Cook to catch his daughter crack wise at the Spokane Comedy Club. “I support Kelsey whenever I can,” Cook said. “What she does isn’t easy. What I do as a musician is place my lips to a piece of metal, but what she does is more difficult. It’s a very demanding, pressure-filled thing, but she makes it look natural and easy. She’s so smart and driven. It’s so much fun seeing Kelsey perform.”
But it’s more than about stand-up for Kelsey Cook when she returns to Spokane. “I don’t get to come back enough to Spokane,” Cook said. “I’m looking forward to seeing family and friends. It’s always great to get back. I’ll get to see some people, and then I’ll perform at the Spokane Comedy Club. I had fun doing the virtual shows, but coming back with my material in person will be even better.”
Kelsey Cook appears Friday and Saturday at the Spokane Comedy Club, 315 W. Sprague. Tickets are $10 and $23. Show times are 7 and 9:30 p.m. both days. For more information, call (509) 318-9998 and visit spokanecomedyclub.com.
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