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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Kelsey Cook is on the move with her latest special ‘The Hustler.’

March 22, 2023 Updated Thu., March 23, 2023 at 2:51 p.m.

By Ed Condran For The Spokesman-Review

“The Hustler” is an apt title for Kelsey Cook’s initial hourlong comedy special. The Cheney High alum has been constantly on the move over the past few months. Since September, Cook has recorded her special, moved from Spokane to Minneapolis and performed throughout the country.

“It’s been an intense time,” Cook said while calling from her Minneapolis home. “So much has been going on but it’s an exciting period for me.”

Cook, 33, is over the moon since she performed on “The Tonight Show” last week for the second time of her career. “It was amazing since I had (host) Jimmy Fallon on one side and (‘Tonight Show’ house band) the Roots on the other side,” Cook said. “I had the opportunity to perform and it was just so cool. The great part about returning to the show was that I knew what was going to happen and I enjoyed the experience so much more.”

Much of the material from “The Hustler,” which is available on YouTube, is drawn from Cook’s relationships. The Washington State University graduate riffs about her recent divorce and her new boyfriend, who is from Minneapolis. Cook doesn’t demonize those close to her and she shares her material with her ex and current flame.

“I think that’s only fair,” Cook said. “I’m still friends with my former husband. I’m not going to bash him onstage. I think people can relate to what I talk about with this special.”

Cook will be on tour for much of the year but will return to perform in Spokane in October. By then Cook should have a new hour of comedy. “I try to come up with new material,” Cook said. “But it’s great to have the hour comedy special under my belt. I recorded another special that was shorter than this one.”

Cook, who bounced back between Los Angeles and Spokane over recent years, loves the Twin Cities even though she misses her hometown. “Spokane will always be the place for me,” Cook said. “My family and so many of my friends are there. I have so many memories but I’m so excited about being here in Minneapolis. I’m in a new city, a new relationship and I have a new special.”

Comedy wasn’t the most predictable route for the WSU math major, who switched to communications as a junior. “I love math but I wasn’t going to work at a job that uses math,” Cook said. “I found myself and what I was supposed to do. It’s not easy to do that when you’re 20 but I think I’m there now. It took awhile but it all worked out.”

There’s another reason Cook’s special is called “The Hustler.” Cook has no problem taking advantage of strangers who are foolish enough to challenge her at foosball. “I hustle people,” Cook said. “I’ll be all giggly and play badly at first and then I’ll ask if we can play for money … That’s when I become another person and I go in for the kill.”

Cook is as aggressive with comedy as she is with foosball. “If I weren’t that way I wouldn’t have gotten this far,” Cook said. “Hey, it’s paid off. This is the way you have to be if you want to get anywhere in this business.”

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