Cole Escola marvels at how his story sounds like a movie plot. “Come to New York without a plan, make a couple of videos and get a TV show. It’s so weird that it’s a reality,” Escola said.
Four years after graduating from R.A. Long High School, Escola’s comedy career is really about to click up a notch.
He’s one half of “Jeffery & Cole Casserole,” which debuts Friday on LOGO TV, which describes itself as the world’s leading gay and lesbian-themed network.
“Casserole” serves up snippets of Escola and Jeffery Self doing the madcap sketches and bizarre observations that have already won them an Internet audience.
For instance, one “Casserole” episode is described as “Cole’s unexpected pregnancy forces him to quit Jeffery’s new musical.”
In a phone interview from New York, Escola explained, “I have an an alien encounter and I become pregnant by the alien. It’s not a human child, but you’ll have to watch it to find out.”
Local audiences have had many chances to watch Escola, who was active in theater and singing here. He first attended Clatskanie schools, then transferred to R.A. Long.
Escola’s roles included Seymour in Mainstage Theater’s 2003 production of “Little Shop of Horrors” and the Tin Man in a “Wizard of Oz” at the Columbia Theatre that summer.
Escola said his favorite hometown show was the one act plays he and other students did in 2005 at the Pepper Studio Theatre. He was also a featured vocalist with the Lower Columbia College Symphonic Band that year.
Rather than parts he played, Escola said, “I more remember people like Don Correll, Dana (Brown) and Sue Hinshaw, the pillars of the arts community in Longview.”
Escola said he came out as being gay during his junior year at RAL. “Nobody seemed to be fazed or shocked. It went over fine.”
After high school, Escola spent a year at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, majoring in humanities.
“I never thought I would move here or stay here,” he said.
“Then it was too expensive and I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I dropped out and went back home for a little while. Then I realized I just wanted to be here,” in New York.
Back in the Big Apple, Escola met Self and the two started devising comedy sketches and posting them online.
“We just have similar senses of humor,” Escola said. That and “our love of early ’90s sit-com actresses and community theater” help them get along.
Their “Very Good Looking (VGL) Gay Boys” segments have received more than 100,000 views, accord to a LOGO news release. New York magazine gave them a brief review headlined “YouTube Comedy Duo Are Hot Indeed.”
The “Gay Boys” series and live appearances attracted the attention of LOGO.
In “VGL Gay Boys,” Cole and Jeffery may anguish over how to get tickets to see a filming of “Sex and the City” or pretend that they’re on the phone with Brad and Angelina as she’s in labor with the twins.
In one of their most popular segments, Cole and Jeffery get into a spat over whether or not to get married now that it’s legal for gays in more states. (In real life, they’re friends, not partners, Escola said.)
Escola and Self film their videos at Self’s apartment. “It was all done by ourselves on a little computer camera on the iMac,” Escola said. “That’s how it’s still done on TV. It’s the same aesthetic — a kind of recession television.”
The credits for “Casserole” are drawn with marker on pieces of notebook paper.
“It’s probably the new fad in comedy … young and unpolished,” Escola said.
“It feels like we’re redefining what works on TV and what’s the new stage for television,” said Michael Barrett, a LOGO spokesman.
Speaking of recession TV, Escola said, he still has a day job in a bakery.
He does bit parts in New York plays from time to time, and appears in clubs in drag as Joyce Conner, “a suicidal middle-aged homemaker.”
Six half-hour segments for “Casserole” already are finished, with another six planned.
They have a live show scheduled in New York this summer, and they might go out on tour if “Casserole” cooks up enough interest. Escola and Self are also working on a movie screenplay, based on their live show.
When asked about “Casserole’s” target audience, Escola was quick to respond tongue in cheek.
“We have a big teenage girl fan base. They brought us on hoping to get the teenage girls. We’re LOGO’s answer to the Jonas Brothers.”
“Jeffery & Cole Casserole” premieres at 11 p.m. Friday on the LOGO network, which appears on some cable and satellite networks. Shows will also be webcast on http://LOGOonline.com">LOGOonline.com
Cole Escola’s own blog is at: http://coleescola.blogspot.com/">http://coleescola.blogspot.com/