2018-02-18 / Insight

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Local comic balances day job with standup
BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com

Dustin Cole, 35, of Attica works by day in the electronics department atWalmart in Lapeer, but his real passion is doing standup comedy at clubsand venues throughout metro Detroit and the region.Dustin Cole, 35, of Attica works by day in the electronics department at
Walmart in Lapeer, but his real passion is doing standup comedy at clubs
and venues throughout metro Detroit and the region.
ATTICA TWP. — On a map of the 10 funniest cities in America only two are in the middle of the country and Lapeer isn’t one of them, although to be fair Atlanta isn’t exactly on the coast. Still, the biggest concentration of comedy clubs are found in a string of East and West Coast cities, but that’s not where you’ll find Dustin Cole.

Cole, 35, who grew up in North Branch as Dustin LaPratt, splits his time between selling electronics at Walmart and doing standup comedy. Three out of four weekends a month you’ll find him on stage at a club or corporate event somewhere in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois or Wisconsin and occasionally you’ll find him farther afield.

Dustin LaPratt, whose stage name is Dustin Cole, graduated from North Branch High School in 2001.Photo by Phil Foley Dustin LaPratt, whose stage name is Dustin Cole, graduated from North Branch High School in 2001.Photo by Phil Foley “I’ve always been, ‘the funny guy,’” he said, but he didn’t start performing until he tried his hand at an open mic comedy night at Joey’s Comedy Club in Livonia after watching a Dane Cook special. “I was depressed about something,” he recalled, “and I was sitting around my apartment in Davison and a Dane Cook comedy special was on. After five, 10 minutes I was happy for a second. I saw how much fun he was having and I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do.’”

Cole will perform at 8 p.m. Friday (Feb. 23) at Louie’s Sports Tavern in Lapeer. “That’s where I got my first real gig,” he said. The doors will open at 7 p.m. and tickets are $15, available at the door or by calling Cole at 810-358-7024.

After Louie’s, The PIX Theatre and Side Tracks, all of which only do a few comedy nights a year, you pretty much run out of venues in Lapeer County to perform at.

That’s why most weekends you’ll find Cole performing in places like Russo’s in Grand Blanc, Mark Ridley’s in Royal Oak and elsewhere in the region.

Cole said when he first got started “it was more or less a hobby.” But now, his club dates account for about half his income.

In 2010, he said, Marvin Lee, a comic friend of his, invited him to tag along as the featured comic in a one-night show “in some small town outside Madison” Wisconsin. “At that moment, I said, ‘Wow,’” he recalled.

Still, he said, “It’s rare to find a comic (in the Midwest) that doesn’t have a second job.” Comedy, he said, may warm the soul, but “unless you’re raking in the bucks like Scrooge McDuck,” it doesn’t cover the cost of health insurance.

Weekdays you’ll find Cole selling electronics at Walmart in Lapeer. He said his bosses have been “very supportive,” letting him use up vacation and personal days to make his performances.

“I’ve hit a point,” Cole said, “if someday I’m discovered, it will be icing on the cake. But if it stays like this to the day I die, I’m happy.”

Cole knows that to really make the big time and get an album deal, he’d likely have to move to New York, Toronto, Chicago or Los Angeles. However, he and his wife, Sarah, grew up in Lapeer County and they live in Attica Township with their daughter, Aurora, who’s three. “I’d have a hard time convincing my wife to move to LA,” said the 2001 North Branch High School graduate.

He could probably pick up more corporate shows if he shifted his act more toward Jeff Foxworthy and away from Dane Cook, but he said, that’s not him. He said that like his idol, his comedy is observational, a little dark and leans more to the R side of things.

“Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable guy play better to audiences around here, but that’s not me,” Cole said. He said his edgy storytelling started with tales of frat boy life, but now is evolving into stories of the transition to marriage and fatherhood.

Along with his standup, Cole’s appeared in a couple of short films and has written a Seinfeld-esque version of his life pilot for a YouTube sitcom.

“I’m doing something I love,” he said.

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