Comedian Catherine Cohen opens up about growing up in Texas, being a star

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When something is particularly funny – a friend’s story, a stand-up special, a line in a movie – I’ll repeat the funny thing, extending the moment longer. If something is really funny, i’m developing a lazy left eye because i’m laughing so hard.

There’s a moment in Catherine Cohen’s new Netflix special “The Twist…? She’s Gorgeous” where the comedian, writer, poet, singer, and Texan says nothing at all, and it made my left eyelid fly. I can’t repeat the joke here, because this is a family-friendly post, and also, you have to watch the special yourself, which kicked off on March 15.

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In his hour-long special, Cohen, who hails from Houston, uses musical theater to take you on an extremely relatable journey. The musician Henry Koperski accompanies him on the piano. She talks and sings about growing up, running a marathon, sex, women’s health, and what it means to be near a baguette. You will also be able to hear some of his poems.

“It was a dream come true,” Cohen said of the special when we chatted last month ahead of his visit to town for the Moontower Just for Laughs Austin. The comedy festival runs from April 13-24.

Cohen had been developing the hour-long set she’s been showing on Netflix since 2017. Steve Brill, who directed the Adam Sandler comedy special on Netflix in 2018, reached out to Cohen. After many meetings, she got the offer to do her own special for the streaming service.

(I asked Cohen if Sandler might be the Beyoncé of the comedy world, and she said, “That’s a great phrase. Potentially.”)

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“I’m so happy Steve is directing. I can’t believe it’s on Netflix now. I feel so lucky,” Cohen said.

Cohen was supposed to film her special in 2020, and then the coronavirus pandemic hit. She filmed it in September 2021.

She draws on her real life to develop her jokes and songs. At least one of them can hit you viscerally: she remembers stealing a boy’s hat when she was a teenager because it was something she saw ‘skinny hot girls do’ and the boy just… asked for his hat.

“I’m so glad people bonded at hat time,” Cohen said.

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Catherine Cohen grew up in Houston before moving to New York after college.

Cohen grew up in Southside Place, a neighborhood in southwest Houston near Bellaire.

“I was in between. I grew up in Houston. I always wanted to leave. I got sucked into the youth band culture, and I think it’s super scary and weird. My parents don’t didn’t make me do it, but the cool thing about going to church and stuff,” she said.

Cohen added, “In high school, I played sports, I did theater. … I certainly wasn’t cool or popular, but I had some amazing friends that I’m still in touch with today,” a- she declared. “I always knew I wanted to leave and move to New York.”

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In New York, Cohen performed weekly at Club Cumming in the East Village and would often use the show to test out new tunes.

“It’s kind of like, ‘What should I talk about what’s going on?'” she said.

Cohen is working on a new hour, and his Moontower jokes won’t be the same as his Netflix special. Another way Cohen offers new materials is through his body.

“It’s so silly, but sometimes I scan my body and I’m like, ‘What’s going on in each part of my body, and is there something there?’ Because I can only speak through my point of view. It has to be personal. It has to be something I’m passionate about or it won’t ring true or sound good,” she said.

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She’s also appeared on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” does a podcast called “Seek Treatment” with the Pat Regan comic, and has guest appearances on your favorite TV shows including “Broad City” and “Search Party.”

I asked if she felt like a rising star.

“I’m definitely a star. I just don’t know if everyone agrees,” Cohen said, with a palpable wink over the phone.

I asked Cohen how to be a star.

“I don’t know. I’ve always been one. If you know, you know,” Cohen said.

As for what’s next?

“I hope I become a movie star. I’m waiting for the call,” Cohen said.

When I first called Cohen for our interview, she responded with a “Hello!” She begins her special with a similar hello then quickly launches into a song where she sings, “Look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me.”

People are definitely watching, Catherine.

On boxes and for event details, always time-date-location/EW format

If you are going to

Catherine Cohen at Moontower Just for Laughs Austin

9 p.m. April 20 at the Parker Jazz Club

9 p.m. on April 21 at the Parker Jazz Club

6 p.m. on April 22 at the Ruisseau and the Grotto

7 p.m. on April 22 at the Parish

7 p.m. on April 23 at the Parker Jazz Club

Single tickets for Moontower shows, as well as festival badges, can be purchased online. Go to austintheatre.org/moontower-comedy/performers/catherine-cohen.

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