Dane Cook Finds the Funny in Bad Times
By Marc Schneider Posted May 22nd 2009 04:48PM
Watch or listen to his new comedy disc 'Isolated Incident' and you'll notice the 2009 version of Dane Cook is a strikingly different animal than from just a few years back. The hand gestures and observational rants are still there, no doubt, but weaved into riffs on President Barack Obama and sandwiches, the comedic superstar waxes sentimental about his as-tough-as-it-gets stretch of luck.
He lost both his parents to cancer in the span of a year. His half brother Darryl McCauley has been charged with siphoning off millions from him. And then there's the dedicated breed of Dane-haters that show little mercy in their scrutiny of the comic, even hurling insults at him during his time of grief.
Lob on a couple of stinkers at the box office and you've got yourself a real-life, full body rug burn.
So Cook, 37, dealt with these setbacks and challenges like any self-respecting comedian would do: he got back on stage.
"When these events fell from the sky on my lap, I dusted myself off and realized I was in pain," he tells PopEater in a new interview. "My first obligation as a comedian was: gotta be funny ... there's gotta be funny in here somewhere. So I just started rooting around, piecing together the poignant moments but making them funny."
He started keeping a diary to jot down his memories of his folks, George and Donna, and lo and behold "I found that I was laughing."
In one track off the album, aptly titled 'Haters,' Cook recounts an email he received from "Anonymous@Yahoo.com" with a friendly enough subject line that read, "Please Read This." Of course, it was from a hater and read: "Dane, both of your parents got cancer and died to get away from s----y comedy."
Cook knew that was a heavy thing to drop on fans, and the cautious reaction from the audience is a tense moment in the show. "That was a bit of a slam on the breaks moment for my fans, but definitely a step-on-the-gas moment for my evolution."
He adds: "Losing my folks. What happens when you become famous or mainstream and the backlash that comes with that. What happens when there are people that are as dedicated to hating you as your fans are dedicating to praising you."
That's partly why the Boston native doesn't do too much "roast-style humor," as he puts it, steering clear of ripping on other celebrities when they're down.
"Having been a person that's been criticized and been through the spanking machine, you tend to have a little bit more understanding," he says. "I know what it's like to have the white hot spotlight on you. And I know about the backlash."
"As far as having a Hollywood lifestyle. I don't have one. I never played into it. I live out here but that's about all I can say about it. I do my thing and I go home. I'm a homebody. I've had the same friends for 20-plus years and I don't hang out with that element. That lifestyle bores me."
After a few hits and misses in his acting career, which has included 'Good Luck Chuck' and 'Mr. Brooks' in 2007 and last year's 'My Best Friend's Girl,' the Hollywood outsider plans to stick to stand-up for a while.
"I deviated a little bit by doing a lot of films and having some up-and-down experiences in Hollywood ... So I'll probably ease back a bit on movies and stick with the stand-up for the next year or two."
When he does return to the big screen, Cook want to keep his work as random as his comedy routine.
"I don't wanna do 'Ace Ventura' and then do nine movies just like it afterwords. I'll always have comedy, so why not have dalliances in other genres in film ... If it's done right I think I may have a shot at a healthy film career," adding "I would to show off the other side of the brain. No complaints, though, comedy's been great to me."
For now, Cook is stoked to hit the road for a huge 'Isolated Incident' tour that will eventually bring his 360-degree stage to Britain, Australia and South Africa, not that any of those far-off places will receive the same show.
"The tour is definitely evolving ... The jokes are always changing and never finished. Kinda like how George Lucas keeps f-----g with 'Star Wars' every two years. There's something exhilarating and frustrating about that."
Side Note: For all you tech-y cool people with iPhones, Cook's deep connection to fans has led to the creation of his own iPhone application in partnership with Zannel.com ... featuring video, text and photo updates directly from the funnyman, as well as tour dates and album downloads. Watch a Preview
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