Black-ish alum Deon Cole has taken his observational brand of comedy back on the road. “It’s called My New Normal and it's just checking in with people after a series of events that happened in my life over the past years,” he tells EBONY. The actor, who just received the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters Degree from his alma mater Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas, candidly talks about life after the recent loss of his mother and being a Black man in America in his latest set.

Cole started his comedic journey over a bet. "My friend saw [the talent] in me. He was one to say, ‘Yo, you should do comedy,’” Cole recalls. “Then he bet me $50 and the rest is history." 

The actors’ strike keeps Cole from discussing his latest TV series Ordinary Joe or his upcoming role in the musical film version of The Color Purple, he’s still doing his Old Spice Guy commercials, a project that has turned this funnyman into a sex symbol. “I don't look at it like that,” he responds with a laugh. “I’m just the average everyday guy. But you know, I appreciate people who think that about me, thank you so much.” And he’s got great scents. “Fiji is beautiful,” he exclaims. “And I like the cocoa butter, of course.”

Cole is also making music. His new song “Where The Freaks At” featuring Terisa Griffin is for those who don’t fit into the normal. “We were just trying to do something different. There are so many disco house songs about love and prosperity and all that. I was just like, man, we need something that's just an anthem for the freaks,” he declares. “It's for those who have outstanding, out-of-the-ordinary skill sets. And for people that were outcasts or quirky or weird and people called them freaks, this song speaks for them too.”

Having a packed schedule outside of TV and film is essential, as Cole believes the SAG-AFTRA strike will continue for a long time. “People need to know why the strike is important for actors, especially Black actors. We just got to get paid what's fair,” he exclaims. He’d like to see actors adequately compensated for their work on streaming services projects.  “It's tricked out how inflation and everything rises, but actors are supposed to still get paid the same.”

Until that happens, Cole will continue to tour, make commercials and work on his next song. “You have to stay tuned to hear it," he teases. Coming from the Old Spice Guy, we know we will.

Catch My New Normal in Las Vegas on August 19.