Jun 8, 2023
A southern comic who isn't afraid to flaunt his pride on and off stage
If there's anything I love more than watching movies and series, it's having a good laugh at some quality stand-up comedy. And right now, more than ever, this entire world is in need of good, hearty laughs from quality comedians who are proud to be authentic. There's nothing better than coming home after a long day and stumbling across some good standup by accident, and that's how I found unapologetic Alabama-based comedian Junior Cook.
A loud and proud gay comedian tearin' it up across the South, Cook is full of life and personality with tons of material, but perhaps the best thing about him is the fact he has no shame when it comes to being himself, and that, my friends, is beyond refreshing in a world of likeness and conformity. He's kind and humble, and he isn't afraid to tackle sensitive subjects with charm and ease, which he embodies effortlessly. He's mindful of presenting
jokes wrapped in such sweet southern swagger, you can't help but feel like you're sitting on your porch hanging out with Junior over a tall glass of sweet tea.
I reached out to Junior to have a chat, and I'm glad I did. He is one funny dude doing exactly what he's meant to be doing, and if he keeps plugging away like he is, he's got one bright future ahead of him. In fact, when I did reach out to him, he had just been selected as the
chosen performer for Season 13 of Kenan Presents: The Live Performance Showcase at
Shenanigans Comedy Theatre in Huntsville, Alabama. The show was hosted by Alton Walker, the creator of The NextIN Line Network, and featured special guest Lamar Pullom, a radio personality known as "The Ant-Man of Comedy" on 105.1 The Block.
I couldn't wait to dig in and learn more about Cook and his life, so check out our conversation below, then be sure to follow him on social media so you can catch him performing live and laugh until your face hurts.
MaM: Junior, thank you so much for hanging out with us. It's a pleasure to feature you in our Comedic Relief section. Tell us where you're from and where you're currently located.
JC: Thank you for having me! I grew up in a very small town in Alabama called Haleyville, but I currently live in Birmingham, Alabama.
MaM: What were you like as a child? Were you the one always entertaining everybody else with laughs?
JC: As a child I was cautious, shy, and curious. I knew who I was at a very young age, but I also knew the world was not ready for me. (laughs)
MaM: Has comedy always been a part of your life?
JC: Comedy has always been a part of my life, yes-especially through TV sitcoms and variety shows. I was always looking for the weird and the funny.
MaM: When were you first introduced to comedy?
JC: My first introduction to stand-up comedy was watching Whoopi Goldberg's HBO comedy special as a child. I was with my family at the beach. I was burnt from too much sun, so I stayed inside and was just taken aback by her characters and skits. She was amazing ... still is! That is probably the reason why I am so excited to see female comedians.
MaM: Whoopi is hysterical. I remember her specials as a child, too. I thought she was the funniest woman I'd ever seen at the time. So daring and bold. When did you know you wanted to be a comedian?
JC: I have always enjoyed making people laugh. My mother tried to get me to pursue stand-up comedy right out of high school but, yet again, I knew the world was not ready for me. Also, I saw making money and exploring who I was and meeting others just like me as being more important at the time. One day at work, I had a client tell me that I should try out for one of the comedy clubs' open mic nights. I knew there was more to it than just getting out there and running your mouth, so I looked into the open mic and saw that they offered many writing classes. After I finished the classes and did my first stand-up gig, I was hooked.
MaM: What does comedy mean to you/do for you and your life?
JC: Comedy means everything to me. Working with words and improv has helped me expand as a person, and comedy also gives me the pleasure of making people happy and lifting their spirits, [even if it is for] just one evening.
MaM: Tell us about the first time you were on stage doing standup. What was that like for you?
JC: The first time I was ever on a stage in front of people probably was the scariest time I've ever felt. It felt like [I was about to] bungee jump off a 10-story building with no safety net. Yet, even with what little laughs I got, I was happy and [it] helped me discover that [standup]
was for me.
MaM: Ha, I've bungeed before and it's terrifying ... until you actually jump! So, I understand your fear and how it compelled you to move forward. That's really cool. Who are some of your comedic influences?
JC: My comedy influences have always been women in comedy. Even today, it's the women who make me laugh [the most]. Watching The Golden Girls with my grandmother on the weekends was the highlight of my week growing up. A lot of the jokes went straight over my head becuase I was so young, but watching my grandmother laugh so hard made me laugh even harder. Sitcoms, The Carol Burnett Show, and female stand-up comedians like Joan Rivers have made a huge impact on my life.
MaM: Who was the first comedian you ever saw live?
JC: I think the first comedian I ever saw live was Lisa Lampanelli. She was crude, rude, and everything good! She told it like it was but in a really funny way. She will always be in my
top ten list of comedians I love.
MaM: Who's your current favorite comedian?
JC: My current favorite comedian has to be Wanda Sykes, hands down. She works so hard, but she makes it look effortless. I admire that about her.
MaM: Dude, huge congratulations on the Live Performance Showcase! That's so awesome! You must have been elated from the time you got the news clean through after you finished your set. Tell us how all of that came about, then what the experience was like for you.
JC: I was chosen to be part of Demi TV's Demi Gods of Comedy. I was so excited that I was going to be filmed and placed on their network. I was chosen by a large group of people that work at Demi TV. The experience has been very positive. Getting noticed in this industry can be hard, and it's so rewarding to know that someone sees you and sees the potential you have.
MaM: Who were some of the other performers at the showcase?
JC: Some of the other comedians that were featured on this special were Scott Eason and my good friend Kimberly Wilson. I consider her my comedy wife. Ha ha.
MaM: Tell us about your comedy style in your own words.
JC: My comedy style is a mixture of dark comedy, everyday situations, and things that we all have to deal with. And most importantly, my comedy style is about me: uncensored, unapologetic, and gay, gay, gay, which is something I could not have done when I was younger. [Now, I'm able to] be my authentic self on stage. Living in the South, I do get some uncomfortable mixed feelings from people, but that is just who I am - a southern man who happens to be gay.
MaM: Well, we happen to love your gayness and we're proud to flaunt you! So, what can people expect from a Junior Cook show?
JC: People can always expect me to be me unapologetically, physically, and sometimes unexpectedly.
MaM: Are you currently touring? Where do you perform?
JC: I'm a performer all around the Southeast and at any comedy festival around the country. I'm hoping to get beyond that soon.
MaM: What does the future hold for you?
JC: I don't think we ever really know what the future holds for us, but I see myself expanding more with comedy wherever it takes me.
MaM: If you could share the stage with any comedian, who would it be and why?
JC: If I could share the stage with any comedian, it would have to be Wanda Sykes, Ellen DeGeneres, or any female comedian today. They just make me laugh so hard. I don't think that women really get thir praise for being the best at comedy.
MaM: Junior, thanks so much for taking some time and allowing us to get to know you. It's been a pleasure. But before I let you go, since we are an entertainment magazine, inquiring minds want to know what are you currently watching?
JC: I am currently watching old sitcoms, believe it or not (laughs). Even though I've seen so many of them so many times, I still find little hidden gems tucked away that I never noticed, and that gives me such joy.
And there you have it, folks. Be sure and follow Junior Cook on Facebook and Instagram @JrCookComedy to stay up to date on his latest shows and appearances. This is one hilariously authentic, proud gay man spreading the love one laugh at a time.
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