Deon Cole: Cole Hearted offers vitally important messages, hitting home that comedy is the last raw form of expression.
Netflix Special Deon Cole: Cole Hearted offers jokes and genuine laughs, but you walk away remembering the stand-up comedian’s messages. You could argue that Deon Cole’s new stand-up was created to serve a point; to micro-analyse today’s society and our suffering entitled generation’s present and future. The Netflix Special resonates deeper than expected, making it a thought-provoking 1-hour and worthy of watching again.
In a defining moment in Deon Cole: Cole Hearted, the comedian casually tells his audience that he’s written down some jokes and he would like to test them — if they fail, then they do not need to see him again.
Deon Cole gets out a small piece of paper and tells purposefully simple jokes; for example, he talks about how RB can be abbreviated for “Roast Beef”. The audience laughs, but mostly out of irony. On his last joke he says the word “dike”, and then goes into a Ted Talk type speech.
The whole point of his speech is that he believes that comedy is the last raw form of expression; he notes how some of the audience clammed up when he landed the latest joke on his piece of paper. He notes how we are creating a generation of people who are unable to control their own thoughts and becoming less tolerant of perspectives.
Deon Cole’s view came at a good time for me. Recently on Twitter, I was engaged with someone regarding comedy after the Todd Phillips fallout. I noted that I do not entertain the notion we should regulate comedy. The same goes for stories in film and TV. Both art forms are a way to express ourselves and tell stories. This person was astounded at my opinion, but the difference is, I haven’t forgotten the purpose of comedy. He had.
Deon Cole: Cole Hearted articulates this growing outrage against stand-up comedians who dare to push boundaries with their jokes. Ricky Gervais spends hours on social media every year explaining to people what a joke is, as we are in danger of it becoming a dying art form. Dave Chappelle was recently ousted by critics with flamingly negative reviews, despite his latest stand-up being funny.
The issue is, we have lost our minds. We are starting to believe that if we watch a comedy that talks about a specific subject and we laugh, then that makes us a racist, or a homophobe, etc. We’ve forgotten that comedy is a space to have these conversations, to discuss different perspectives and to also ironically laugh at those subjects while at the same time frowning at them. I don’t believe Deon Cole is homophobic, or that Dave Chappelle is transphobic, but I do believe in comedy and the parameters that form around it.
Bad jokes exist as well.
Deon Cole: Cole Hearted also talks about how our current society is flailing in judgment. He encourages everyone to love themselves because there’s only one of you. I met this segment with relation and respect. On a daily basis, I see many people become consumed by another person’s seemingly fun Instagram, comparing themselves undeservedly to a reality that isn’t theirs. It truly troubles me when I see new YouTubers become depressed over the thumbs up/thumbs down function when all it does is inform you what content works or not.
To go full circle, Netflix Special Deon Cole: Cole Hearted is hilarious, but I would be surprised if anyone walked away remembering it for that. Audiences will likely admire Deon Cole for raising an important subject as the basis for a stand-up.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.