Rolling Stone


A health scare nearly derailed her burgeoning comedy career, but for Cohen, everything is copy


COMEDIAN CATHERINE Cohen had a hole in her heart, and there was only one thing that could mend it: a visit from Dr. Love. Actually, any number of cardiologi­sts probably could have helped, but it was

Dr. Love at Mount Sinai on the Upper East Side who came to Cohen’s aid when she suffered a mini stroke last summer, which led to the discovery that she’d had a hole in her heart since birth, a condition called PFO. That her doctor’s name sounds like it belongs in a made-for-TV movie about a charming comedian stumbling through life in New York City, right into the arms of a handsome cardiologi­st? That’s par for the course in Cohen’s life, one of the things that she singsong-ingly characteri­zes as a “lady in a mooooovie” moment in her stand-up act.

The health scare was a brick wall positioned squarely in the path of her comedy career, which was rapidly gaining momentum — the surgery to repair the hole, her big date with Dr. Love, forced her to cancel an appearance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and other shows.

And it came on the heels of her Netflix special, The Twist…? She’s Gorgeous, which was released in 2022 — an hour of Cohen gasping and squealing and singing from the stage of Joe’s Pub in Manhattan, whirling around in a hot-pink romper absolutely duh-ripp-ing with rhinestone­s. Netflix touts her special as “a sparkling cocktail of stand-up and song,” in

Cohen’s recollecti­on, “which I thought was really actually well said. Shout-out. I think one of the things is like, ‘quirky,’ and what’s quirky about it? Being a size 12? Is that quirky? What do you mean? Woman screaming, is that quirky?”

If she could have a stab at those descriptor­s, she might add “screaming in sequins. New York. Loud. Sad. Gross — but beautiful!”

Yet overall, Cohen calls the special’s impact on her career “magical.” It built on her teeming Instagram fan base and the audiences of a recurring live show at New York’s Club Cumming, called “Cabernet Cabaret.” Then there’s her podcast, Seek

Treatment, co-hosted by fellow “criminally under-famous comedian” Pat Regan — as she’s called her bestie — and her poetry collection, 2021’s God I Feel Modern Tonight: Poems From a Gal About Town,

which features compositio­ns like “poem I wrote after I sent three guys the same nude” and “poem I wrote after I didn’t drink for six days and thought about starting a cult.” Cohen has a presence in seemingly every medium, and had a full slate of shows that looked like they’d truly take her career to the next level. But: Stroke. Unasked for! Uncalled for!

Now, things are back on track. This year, Cohen embarks on a tour that has her shuffling from city to city through May. She hopes to make up for that missed festival in Edinburgh and maybe chip away at a proposal for a book of comedic essays. She has her sights set on a new special. It seems like the demand she’s been making for years in one of her signature songs, “Look at Me,” is going to be fulfilled.

Cohen’s routine covers sex, the internet, the very specific but somehow widespread belief that a weekend in upstate New York heals all wounds, the aforementi­oned “lady in a movie” feeling (Holding a baguette? Lady in a movie!), and more. She’s an energetic mouthpiece for those suffering the mundane indignitie­s of the period of adulthood when you’re no longer an entry-level human, but you’re not quite qualified to be a Senior Director of Adults yet. At 32, Cohen is a self-described “girl in her young thirties.”

In her act, Cohen comes off as your sparkliest, funniest, tipsiest friend going off at brunch. In real life, sipping a mint tea in a midtown chain cafe, she’s the same. Relationsh­ips, rent prices, style — she briefly covets a fellow customer’s ankle-length leopard-print overcoat before realizing, cackling, that it’s super similar to the coat she’s already wearing — nothing is really off-limits. She kind of has a millennial Nora Ephron everything­is-copy type of thing going on — Dr.

Love is sure to find a place in upcoming material, she says.

The twist of Cohen’s comedy (apart from being gorgeous) is that it really could go anywhere — like our conversati­on. We discuss her hobby of painting portraits of her friends’ dogs (she used to use oils but switched because they’re too messy and “definitely not photoreali­stic”); who she’d swap bodies with for a day (LSU gymnast Livvy Dunne, because “I’ve never been flexible. I’ve never been able to do a cartwheel. I would love to feel strong and fast for one day. My whole life has been me, like, walking around the track and everyone else runs. I would love to feel lithe.” On second thought? “Honestly, I would swap with anyone who can do a push-up without being on their knees”); and astrology (Leo sun, Virgo moon, Pisces rising, though that whole thing where her horoscope never predicted a life-threatenin­g health scare kind of shifted her views on it).

Cohen is grappling with a lot of the same things her peers are: relationsh­ips, health, debating what Taylor Swift era she truly is in her soul ( Reputation, I’ll tell), career, aging. She ponders her waning tolerance to alcohol.

“I guess everyone says that will happen when you get older, and it’s happening,” she says, and can’t resist poking fun at herself yet again. “Every cliché is true. I’m just like, ‘OK, I’m a cliché. Everything I like is what everyone else likes. Great.’ I’m the most uninterest­ing girl in the world. And yet I insist on talking about myself.”

But then the most uninterest­ing girl in the world checks herself, lest she wreck herself.

“At the end of [last] year, with the strike and everything, I was like, what a slow, weird bummer of a year. And then [when] I looked back, I was like, wait, no. Actually, Catherine? Stop being a little bitch. You had a really cool year. And you escaped death.”

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