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By Matt Byrne. Byrne is a freelance writer based in Chicago, IL. He runs The Steamroller, a blog about the alt/not shitty comedy scene.

Hi, here’s another one of these! This week’s pick is standup comic Curtis Cook, who was in Chicago last month as a part of The Comedy Exposition (a standup comedy festival I helped produce). Curtis is one of the folks whose sets I most regret missing, as I was too preoccupied with frantically running around helping make sure things went relatively smoothly to actually see much standup throughout the fest.

Based on the several clips I’ve watched of Curtis, he’s an effortlessly charming and intelligent standup, riffing on topics like social justice and institutionalized inequality with an ease I’ve never seen before. He lacks the self congratulation that often plagued politicized Bush-era alt comics; it doesn’t feel like he’s preaching to the converted as much as he’s respecting the intelligence and cultural awareness of audiences in his current home base of Portland, OR and beyond. Let’s watch a clip and you’ll see what I mean.

Right? Good jokes! Real good jokes!

Here’s some more from a totally different set of his, also shot at the Helium Comedy Club in Portland.


Curtis’ onstage persona condenses perfectly into 140 characters. Here’s some of my favorite of his Tweets to show you what I mean.

This A$AP chunk from a few weeks ago was real fun:

To play us out, here’s a clip of his appearance on Portland’s live late night talk show Late Night Action with Alex Falcone. He talks about his hometown of Cleveland, his experiences since moving to Portland, and his podcast, Black By Popular Demand. Get into it!