People Who Make NY Special

The Biggest New Name in NYC Comedy Is…

Expect to see a lot of Catherine Cohen in the coming year.

Photo by Bea Helman/Courtesy of Catherine Cohen

If you haven’t heard whispers of Catherine Cohen’s alliterative name around town over the past year, you’ll soon notice it displayed prominently on marquees and television and computer screens. The comedian’s current projects are both numerous and hilarious: A weekly show at Club Cumming in the East Village with her collaborator, Henry Koperski; a monthly show at Joe’s Pub called The Twist…She’s Gorgeous! that she’s taken on tour to London and Edinburgh Fringe; a three-woman show called It’s a Guy Thing; and a podcast with a name we can all relate to: Seek Treatment.

Cohen’s whip-smart, blue-streaking commentary (and songs!) on modern life, love, lust, and nonsense unites all these various projects in a caustic celebration of our crazy times.

Catherine Cohen
Photo by Bea Helman/Courtesy of Catherine Cohen

What Should We Do: You had a busy 2018!
Catherine Cohen: Oh, my God, my year has been an absolute dream from heaven. Lots of auditioning and writing and trying to work toward developing my own TV show, but I don’t know what that is yet. It was a really amazing year, and I’m really excited for everything I have coming up: I’m going to be in the new season of High Maintenance, and I’m also going to be in the next seasons of Search Party and Broad City, as well as this new show on Comedy Central called Alternatino.

WSWD: I saw you at Club Cumming—I guess it was a few months ago now—and thought you were hysterical. It was so much fun. It’s also such a cool venue, really small and intimate.
Cohen: I love it. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to Alan Cumming and Daniel Nardicio, who helps him run the club. They are the most generous, kind people, and all of the bartenders there, too, are the nicest guys. It’s so much fun. But one of my resolutions for 2019 is to drink less.

WSWD: What comedy trends have you been noticing in New York City lately? And of those, are there any that you think need to die?
Cohen: I think there’s a lot more musical comedy these days, especially at my shows, which is really fun. I used to think musical comedy was stupid, but I sense people are now doing it in ways that are more inventive and exciting. Trends that need to die? I don’t know, like, the idea that comedians all have to wear hoodies and sneakers. I think that’s done. It’s all about glamour.

I’m championing maximalism and glamour and elegance in the comedy world.

WSWD: More jumpsuits!
Cohen: Down with minimalism. I’m championing maximalism and glamour and elegance in the comedy world. And I always want to see more women and queer people. I don’t know if we need that many more dudes out and about in the mix.

WSWD: Have you noticed more women and queer people doing comedy now or at least getting more, and bigger, platforms?
Cohen: Yes, but I think that’s just the scene that I’m a part of. There are still scenes where it’s still dudes, but the community that I’m part of, and that I’ve helped create thanks to Club Cumming, is trying to champion those other voices.

WSWD: You’re from Houston. Do you think a Texan sense of humor is different?
Cohen: I have no idea. I feel like I left there, got the fuck out, and was like: Get me to New York City. But I’ve done a few shows in Houston and it’s been really fun. There’s a cool scene there.

I feel like everyone I know is a total genius.

WSWD: How would you describe the New York comedy scene to an outsider?
Cohen: Oh, my God. It’s just madness. It’s people constantly making…there’s just so much stuff happening. Any given night there’s, like, 10 comedy shows you can go to, that you would never even know about unless you knew someone who was involved or whatever. I think outlets like Time Out do a great job of telling you about these underground things that you might not have heard of. It’s just a really exciting time. I feel like everyone I know is a total genius. It’s a lot of fun. People just work so hard here. People are out every night. That’s just how it is.

WSWD: How do you choose where to go? Do you feel like you can’t take a second to rest?
Cohen: I don’t like resting; it makes me feel ill.

WSWD: I feel like New York is the right place for that. Do you ever think about moving to L.A.? You mentioned some of your comic friends are going there.
Cohen: I’ll go wherever there’s work, but I never want to leave New York. I always want to have this be home base and then spend time in different cities.

WSWD: Finally, I’m wondering, what are the kinds of moments that keep you pursuing comedy, and how do measure your success? It seems to me as if you’ve blown up this past year.
Cohen: I mean, every week at Club Cumming, even if I don’t want to go, I end up having the best time. I’m like, OK, this is what I enjoy doing, you know? For example, last night, I was in the middle of packing up my entire apartment for a move and thinking: I cannot [go there] right now; I’m so fucking stressed. But as soon as I got there, I had the best time. It’s just what makes me happy—performing and being around my friends. People I think are creative and kind and funny.

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