And speaking of late-night comedy misfires …


The secret to a good deadpan? For me, maintaining a completely straight face is as easy as pretending I’m reading Dane Cook’s Wikiquote page. There’s simply no chance of cracking a smile.

I caught the rerun of Dane Cook’s second stint hosting Saturday Night Live this weekend, and I was about as underwhelmed as I was with his first stint. Don’t get me wrong: I think he’ll do fine as an actor. He’s clearly got mass-market appeal, being the safest so-called edgy comedian I can recall. I can’t imagine him pulling a Bill Hicks, melting down and screaming at the audience that Hitler was right and making them look at each other and wonder if everyone was going to leave the room alive. And he’s servicable enough as a comedic performer as long as someone else is writing his material — and some, such as comedian Louis C.K., from whom he’s allegedly plagarized a few bits, would argue he’s been letting others write his material all along. Of course, he obviously does do most of his own writing, and from what I’ve heard, if there’s one thing that you can say for him, it’s that he certainly knows how to sell weak material.

And it’s certainly not that I dislike Dane Cook as a person, because I’m not that sure he is one. He looks like a ordinary, corporeal human being, but he’s the opposite: all energy and no matter. There’s no substance, just a shell of wild gesticulations orbiting an empty core. He’s a Dyson sphere of a performer. He’s the human equivalent of Oakland, California, as described by Gertrude Stein: There’s no there there. Peel the onion, and it’s hollow. Look at the jokes on the printed page, and they fall flat, because they were never really there — just a lot of flailing around.

More hating after the jump.

I do fondly remember the time I explained to someone why she didn’t like Dane Cook. “Hey, have you heard of a comedian named Dane Cook?” she asked.

“I think you’re thinking of the Swedish Chef from The Muppet Show,” I said. I’m still keeping up on my plan to deliberately confuse them whenever possible, for the simple reason that the Swedish Chef is more deservedly famous. (For similar reasons, whenever someone mentions Paris Hilton, I like to ask, Who?”)

She blinked in confusion. “Dane Cook.”

I rolled my eyes. “Yes, I know him.”

“Well, he has this routine about getting hit by a car that my boyfriend and I thought was really funny.”

“I think you’re thinking of Louis CK,” I said.

She blinked in confusion. “Dane Cook.”

I explained the various reasons that Dane Cook might be considered a hack, largely centering around the theme that wild gesticulations give the appearance of comedy but are not actually comedy, and mentioned that it was in fact particularly egregious that she cited this particular bit, as he’d allegedly lifted it, along with a couple of others, from Louis CK, which would make him a joke thief, which is far worse than just being a hack. “Basically,” I finished, “he’s Carrot Top with gel in his hair.”

“Wow,” she said. “I guess I don’t like Dane Cook.”

Anyway, I saw this a couple of days ago, and this is good. Here’s a poster from the A Special Thing forums (who also elaborates on his disdain for Dane Cook on his blog here) imagining what a Dane Cook bit would sound like if it were stolen from Seinfeld hack comedian Kenny Banya instead of, say, Louis CK:

*initiate Dane-ness*
“So, like all of you, I enjoy a chocolaty beverage. Hot, cold, it’s all delicious. But just the other day, I noticed something. I had a moment of clarity, if I may. I had, an epiphany, if I may. I had a jar of Ovaltine next to me on my left YOUR RIGHT. I want you all to experience this with me. And next to this Jar of Choclaty Delight that we know as Ovaltine, is the Mug that I’m going to place the Chocolate Heaven in. And here’s the thing. The Ovaltine jar is round. *makes circle with hand in the air* It’s round, it’s a circle of happiness, calling out to you, saying “Hey, I’m Ovaltine. I’m Heaven in a powdered chocolate dust. I’ve opened my mouth as wide as I can into a perfect circle to allow maximum chocolate consumption.” And the Mug is right next to it, with the exact same round configuration, because the mug secretly wants to fuck the Ovaltine jar and ejaculate in thanks for all the chocolaty goodness. And then I looked and I was like, “They should just call it Round-tine!”

*thunderous applause*
*end Dane-ness*

Fantastic. And this is good too:

11 Responses to “And speaking of late-night comedy misfires …”

  1. Thank you for that post, that just made my fucking day. God damn it, I HATE Dane Cook. Even the Banya version of Cook pissed me off. What is it with this guy? How is wild rambling and unchecked aggression funny and not disturbing?

  2. You’re an ignorant tool and “she”, for lack of already using the ignorant tool insult, is a sheep. Go ahead and believe whatever people tell you, and like or dislike something simply because it is popular; in this case, you’re on the “trends are dumb and i look cool if i say so” bandwagon.

    I personally discovered Dane Cook through MP3s, not ever seeing the way he runs around and entertains the audience rather than standing there like a stick in the mud. The CDs are brilliant, and his recent stint on SNL was the best episode of SNL in a long time with some really hilarious skits. Some call Cook an overacter. Well the SNL cast members at the moment suck (with the exception of the underplayed Kenan Thompson), so SOMEONE has to pick up the slack for those douchebags.

    And that joke you quoted was from a live performance. I dont know which one out of the thousands he did that that was quoted from, but the album version is much funnier. Something about Nesquik and the choclatey drink exploding in his eye, like having Dune in his chocolatey drink. It’s funny cause it’s true, I just had Nesquik moments ago and it is very powdery.

    Not sure how to end this tirade, so… douchebag.

  3. That’s not why Peter’s a douchebag.

    Mind you, in this guy’s defense, I once drank a powdery glass of Nesquik and I just couldn’t stop laughing. It was just so hilariously powdery.

    Anyway, poor man’s Ryan Reynolds.

  4. 4 Peter VK

    I think you should check out his Vicious Circle show, if you’ve got the time:

    There’s 12 parts to the show, and it’s pretty damn funny.

  5. Ura Douchea (if that is your real name):

    I’m not sure how formulating my own opinion based on what I’ve seen and heard of the man makes me ignorant, but at least you might have accidentally got it right with the “douchebag” thing, even though previous posts offer much more support for that theory than this one.

    Actually, the joke I quoted was from the A Special Thing forums, as I said (and I linked to it too). It’s a parody of Dane Cook. It’s not an actual Dane Cook quotation from either a live performance or a CD. You may be mixing up this theoretical Ovaltine bit with an actual Nesquik bit. This is forgivable, since you don’t appear to have read the entire post too thoroughly.

    But my so-called dislike of Dane Cook isn’t simply because he’s popular, as you say. It is, as I said, because when one looks beyond all the flailing around, his material is pretty mediocre. And it’s, as I said, because the evidence points to his being a joke thief, which is the bottom feeder of the comedy world.

    It’s funny how Dane Cook fans get personally insulted when you mention this. I do give him credit for building a really strong relationship with his fan base. With an army like that backing him, he could graduate from ripping off bits from other comics and refusing to leave comedy club stages when his time is up (another douchebaggy thing he’s actually made the papers for doing) to actually invading foreign countries and permanently occupying their territory.

    But since Kenan Thompson doesn’t have that kind of fan base backing him up (to my knowledge), it’s probably safe to say that he’s actually probably the worst cast member on SNL right now. (I’d call Will Forte the best.) Those Deep House Dish skits he did were truly painful–or, I should say, ooh-wee, they were boring. His job was hanging by a thread over the summer, and it was actually reported that he’d been fired. It seems fairly obvious that the only reason he hung on to his job is that Finesse Mitchell sucked worse.

  6. I’m not a particular fan of Dane Cook or urea douche (which sounds as if it would just make things worse down there), but I had a perspective interesting enough to warrant typing it in anonymously to a comedy website: If Dane Cook’s Wikiquotes suck (and they do, Ias I read), it must be said that that is the WORST way to absorb Mr. Cook’s material.

    I listen to his albums, and watch him on TV, and laugh more than the average amount. I think it’s admirable that he CAN “sell weak material.” That’s his skill, and with some notable exceptions, that’s one of the primary skills of many stand-up performers. His medium is live performance, not the written word, so it seems unfair to use that as evidence of the “nothingness” of his jokes.

    Let’s be honest with ourselves, as makers of comedy: material, in some sense, is always weak. If the reader (or viewer) has a chip on their shoulder, they’re not going to laugh. That’s why that show “Make Me Laugh” on Comedy Central sucked so much (among many other reasons). A huge part of joke-telling is the WAY you tell it, and in Mr. Cook’s case, he has honed this skill to the extreme, perhaps to the detriment of the other half of the equation, namely, writing inherently funny material.

    If you watch him, and he makes you laugh, that is a talent, regardless of whether that laughter was illicited by clever turn of phrase or wild gesticulation. The man is a clown, and he does it well. Although, as this blog is called “Man vs. Clown,” perhaps this is all part of a larger attempt to drive the clownish from our midst.

  7. I don’t know who Dane Cook is, but as I was reading his jokes from the wiki page I felt as though I was reading the jokes of every other hack I’ve ever seen. Sure, maybe I’d have to actually see or hear him deliver these jokes to be awed by his ability to create something out of nothing. But for me to believe that he has any talent at all, I’d have to at least see a modicum of cleverness in his printed words.

  8. Oh, I do grant that reading his Wikiquote page is the worst possible way to experience Dane Cook; the only funny thing about it is the very idea of it: that he’s at all quotable. He’s not. You really do have to see him if you’re hoping to wring any enjoyment out of it, because while he may not possess any actual comedy, he does at least have comic energy in spades. This is why I think he could make a very successful actor, as long as someone else writes the scripts.

    Oh, and I also agree that Make Me Laugh sucked hard. Dear god, did it suck. I never spent more than a couple of minutes watching it at any given time, but I guarantee I neither saw laughter onscreen nor emanated it myself at any time. All I remember is fifth-rate hacks resorting to making so-called funny faces as time ticked away. Not funny at all.

  9. I would honestly have to agree you here; Dane Cook is the douchiest. Apart from being in a movie with Jessica Simpson, an indiscretion for which I still cannot forgive Johnny Knoxville, he’s also a shameless self-promoter.
    I know, he’s a comedian, sort of, and they have to promote themselves, but if I hear the fucking word “chicken sangwhich” one more time, I might kill myself. Why is that so goddamned funny? The super finger? Jesus Christ…

  10. Dane Cook has got one or two bits that work, but most of his stuff doesn’t for the reasons aptly parodied on the youtube clip here. mainly, his material relies on his manic energy (running around is always funny to drunk teens). but also, his “bits” often rely on premises which simply doesn’t apply to the real world. many, many times i’ve heard him start off a joke with, “you know how you always…” or “everybody always…” or “there’s always this one guy…” and i never laugh because i’m always thinking, no, that never happens to anyone at all, ever.

  1. 1 To be fair, the most disgusting, disappointing possible thing would probably have been buying a Tucker Max book and shelving under non-fiction « Man vs. Clown!

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