The hottest theater ticket in New York isn’t what you’d expect it to be at the moment. It’s not a Hamilton style historical epic—although it does dabble in history. It’s Cole Escola’s Oh, Mary! which the comedian wrote and stars in as Mary Lincoln Todd, a miserable alcoholic in the weeks leading up to her husband President Abraham Lincoln’s (Conrad Ricamora) assassination.

To say too much would spoil many of the delights of the show which feels endlessly rewatchable. But that unhinged energy and biting sense of humor is what’s made it a singular cultural moment—one that’s been selling out seats, getting accolades from the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, and a Broadway transfer in June.

Seeing Escola’s success feels like the natural culmination of more than a decade of incredible work that’s finally finding its mainstream success. They first cut their teeth doing YouTube videos with frequent collaborator Jeffrey Self which ended with the 2009 Logo TV show Jeffery & Cole Casserole.

Since then, the 37-year-old has made memorable roles on television in shows like in Hulu’s Difficult People, At Home With Amy Sedaris, and Search Party—all different levels of perfectly maniacal.

But if you want to get to the heart of Escola’s comedy, go all the way back and watch their earlier character work from playing actress Bernadette Peters, a talking head in a crime documentary gone wrong, or the Goblin Commuter of Hoboken.

They’ve always been uniquely themselves in their comedy and their most recent release—Our Home Out West—a family western pilot from 1971 encapsulates what makes Escola so funny. They simultaneously have a respect for what they are parodying and aren’t afraid to go there either. But their approach to comedy also feels like they are releasing what they would want to see.

Escola told The Cut about Our Home Out West, “I paid for it out of my own pocket. I wanted to make something for the fun of making it, which is why I also wanted to put it out for free: It needed to be a gift to myself and for the people watching it.”

Once you find Escola’s comedy, there’s no going back. It rewires your brain. And subsequent repeat viewings always garner delightful new discoveries in their work. So it’s no surprise that the fever pitch for Oh, Mary! has become so heightened.

Escola as Mary Lincoln Todd is both hilarious and heartbreaking, vindictive and forgiving, and gives such a dazzling final performance that has to be seen to be believed. They told Paper Magazine that doing Oh, Mary!  has revitalized performing for them.

“Now I’m so in love with theater, I really only want to do theater. I would love to write a play for other actors to be in and just be in the rehearsal room as a writer. This has definitely re-awakened a love of performing in me, but I still feel more like a writer than a performer. It’s more satisfying to me, because you get to be more exacting,” they said.

Clearly the theater loves them back, as Oh, Mary!’s Broadway run promises to put Escola out there even further. And not to jinx it, but a future EGOT winner feels fully within the realm of Escola’s new career trajectory. 

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