Live preview: Cole Escola

A dazzling young comedian dives into cabaret.

Photograph: Christian Coulson

Joe's Pub; Fri 28, Sat 29

Cole Escola grabs your attention and gobbles it whole, with a confidence that doesn't try to hide how hungry he is. Just 24 years old, Escola has spent much of the past three years making off-kilter, low-tech comedy videos with his friend Jeffery Self; posting on YouTube as the VGL Gay Boys, the two came to the attention of the Logo network and landed their own TV series, Jeffery & Cole Casserole. This week, the saucer-eyed actor makes his Self-less cabaret debut in a pair of late-night sets at Joe's Pub, which will show new facets of a talent that gleams with scrappy razzle-dazzle.

Blending boyish mischief with dizzy charm and the ruthless coyness of a starlet bent on fame, Escola's comic persona suggests a street urchin raised by The Match Game. His set at Joe's—directed by Ben Rimalower, the man behind the semilegendary Leslie Kritzer Is Patti LuPone at Les Mouches (and a personal friend of mine)—will include such unlikely selections as Nina Simone's "To Be Young, Gifted and Black" and a sexed-up version of Sweeney Todd's "The Worst Pies in London." Prankish yet committed, Escola is an old-fashioned entertainer in ways that somehow seem fresh. His sensibility may bespeak profound immersion in the heritage of camp, but he is not the type to stay submerged in it for long before bursting up to make a splash of his own.

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