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Dane Cook

Dane Jeffrey Cook (born March 18, 1972) is an American stand-up comedian and film actor. He has released four comedy albums: Harmful If Swallowed, Retaliation, Rough Around The Edges: Live From Madison Square Garden, and Vicious Circle. Retaliation became the highest charting comedy album in 28 years and went double platinum. Cook performed an HBO special in the Fall of 2006, Vicious Circle, and has made numerous television appearances. As an actor, Cook has appeared in fifteen films since 1997, including Mystery Men, the 2005 film Waiting..., and starred in the 2006 comedy Employee of the Month and the 2007 comedy Good Luck Chuck. He also appeared in the 2007 thriller Mr. Brooks, which was a departure from his standard comedic roles. Cook had a supporting role in the 2007 film Dan in Real Life. Most recently, Cook appeared in 2008's My Best Friend's Girl.

Early life

Dane Cook was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of George Cook (who now works at a golf course but at different times managed and ran a lumber yard, a window business and a rock club in Cambridge) and Donna Cook, a homemaker.

When Cook was 3, he was attacked and almost killed by a German shepherd named Derrick. Beneath his hair is a zigzagging scar that became etched into his cranium after receiving nearly 80 stitches. Years later, during his interview on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on September 18, 2008, he said that he grew his hair out so that his mother did not have to see the stitches because the sight of them upset her.

Cook grew up in Arlington, Massachusetts, a Boston suburb in an Irish Catholic family. He is the second youngest of seven siblings; he has a younger sister, one older brother and four older sisters. He attended Arlington High School, where he starred in the school production of Grease. In high school, Cook was very introverted and to help break through his shell, he took up drama and eventually fell in love with improvisation and sketch comedy.

As a teenager, Cook became interested in comedy when his father, former radio personality George Cook, gave him a tape recorder and microphone. Later, he would learn what it meant to be a stand-up comedian. He was enthralled with comedians who were not afraid to sweat on stage—Richard Pryor and Robin Williams—and was equally taken by those like Steven Wright and Bob Newhart, who could ignite a crowd while standing in one place for an hour. Cook graduated in 1990 and began doing comedy that same year. Cook started comedy by being part of a three-man improv troupe called Al and the Monkeys with Robert Kelly and Al Del Bene. The troupe toured together for four years before disbanding. As he tells it, Cook's comedy did not grow from pain or a need to fill some emotional void, but for simply the fun of entertaining.

Stand-Up

Cook's first comedy performance was at an open microphone night at Catch A Rising Star that was M.C'd by David Cross. Originally Cook went to watch the show but when he found out that a man by the name of Ernest Glenn didn't show up for his set, Cook went onstage under the name Ernest Glenn. Afterwards Cook spent the next several years honing his act in local comedy clubs as well as performing in bars, laundromats, and Chinese restaurants. For the first five years of his career, Cook honed his act in Boston while living at home with his parents.

In 1995, Cook moved out of his parent’s basement to New York City and began performing in earnest. He also spent that time working the Comedy Club and College circuits. Two years later, he shuffled 3,000 miles west to Los Angeles, where he still lives today.

Cook's big comedy break came in 1998 when he appeared on Comedy Central's Premium Blend. This started a relationship between Cook and Comedy Central that has lasted many years. In 2000, Cook did a half-hour special on Comedy Central Presents. Since then his special has won the Comedy Central Stand-up showdown twice in a row.

In 2003, Cook released his first CD/DVD entitled Harmful If Swallowed. The success of the album landed him a record contract with Comedy Central Records. The album is certified platinum. He released his second CD/DVD in 2005, entitled Retaliation. This album went double platinum and made Cook the first comic in 29 years to have an album at #4 on the Billboard charts. This earned him a place alongside best-selling comedy vets Bill Cosby, George Carlin, and Steve Martin.

The success of the album also landed him a comedy performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, and then afterwards he joined Snoop Dogg (who introduced him) in presenting the award for Best New Artist.

On April 15, 2005 Cook performed his first HBO Special entitled Vicious Circle filmed "in the round" at the TD Banknorth Garden. The same year Cook shot two pilot episodes for his own sitcom, Cooked. The sitcom never got picked up and the two pilot episodes were later released on DVD as the Lost Pilot Episodes. That same year he embarked on a 30-day 20-show college tour called Tourgasm with his long time friends Robert Kelly, Gary Gulman, and Jay Davis. The tour was filmed and was later made into a 9-episode documentary on HBO.

On December 3, 2005, Cook hosted Saturday Night Live. He performed the longest monologue in the show's history and it was one of the highest-rated SNLs of the season". He would then go on to host the premiere of season 32 of SNL a year later.

In 2006 Cook headlined for Dave Attell's Insomniac Tour and hosted the 2006 Teen Choice Awards alongside Jessica Simpson. The following year he won the award for Best Comedian. On November 12, Cook became the second comic to sell out Madison Square Garden. He did two sold out shows in one night. The show was filmed and would later be put onto a DVD to be sold on Cook's third comedy album.

Cook won the Big Entertainer Award at the VH1 Big in '06 Awards, and Rolling Stone magazine's Hot Comic of the Year.

On November 13, 2007, Cook released his third CD/DVD entitled Rough Around The Edges. The Album debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top Comedy Albums chart. During that time, he embarked on a tour of the same name. This was Cook's first arena tour.

On April 10, 2007, Cook broke The Laugh Factory endurance record (previously held by Richard Pryor) by performing on stage for 3 hours and 50 minutes. Dave Chappelle would break the record five days later. On January 1, 2008, Cook again broke the club's endurance record, by performing on stage for 7 hours.

From May 23, 2008 to May 25, 2008 Cook renuited with Robert Kelly and Al Del Bene for 3 shows at The Coliseum in Caesars Palace. Then, from May 29, 2008 to June 4, 2008, the Trio went to Iraq to perform for the troops. During all of these shows Bene was the Emcee, Kelly was the Feature, and Cook was the Headliner.

Cook is currently working on his fourth album, the last as part of his four record deal with Comedy Central Records, as well as plotting another Comedy Special and Tour.

Film

Cook starred in his first leading role as the slacker boxboy Zach Bradley in Employee of the Month with Jessica Simpson and Dax Shepard. Following its release, the film became the #1 most requested movie on AOL. Despite the poor critical response, the film managed open to nearly $12 million in its opening weekend, debuting at #4 just behind Open Season.

Cook co-starred in his first dramatic role as the devious photographer Mr. Smith in Mr. Brooks along with Kevin Costner, Demi Moore, and William Hurt. The film debuted at #4 at the box office, just behind Shrek The Third. The movie grossed $10,017,067 in the opening weekend.

Cook starred as the dentist Charlie Logan in the release of Good Luck Chuck with Jessica Alba and Dan Fogler. Critics viewed the film unfavorably, but it went on to gross over $55,000,000 worldwide as of January 17, 2008. It debuted as the #1 comedy in the US that week (#2 overall, behind Resident Evil). The Good Luck Chuck DVD sold over 210,000 copies in its first day of release (January 15, 2008).

Cook co-starred as the cocky Mitch Burns in the release of Dan in Real Life along with Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche. The film grossed $$11,809,445 million in 1,921 theaters its opening weekend, ranking #2 at the box office, just behind Saw IV. As of December 26, 2007, it had grossed $46 million.

Cook starred as the air purifier call-center supervisor Tank Turner in the movie My Best Friend's Girl with Kate Hudson, Jason Biggs, and Alec Baldwin. The film grossed $8.2 million and debuted at #3 at the box office, just behind Burn After Reading and got a 50-50 rating on fandango.com.

Style

Dane Cook's style is principally energetic physical comedy. He combines observational humor and wordplay with a casual attitude. Cook says his onstage persona is a combination of the personalities of his mom, Donna , and his dad, George, “My mother is like a Looney Tunes cartoon. She’s wiggly,” Dane says. “She has the ability to tongue in cheek a lot, and do it in a way where she’s being physical. My dad is the polar opposite. He always had a little ‘what the fuck’ in his voice. Even if he knew nothing about what he was talking about, he could sell it. So I looked at these two extremely funny people and created a style of comedy from absorbing their actions.”

His routines focus on his childhood, and his plans for the future, such as his "dream home". He will sometimes deliver jokes in the form of over-the-top rants with increasingly erratic body motions, pacing, waving, and jumping.

He explains that:

Cook has also popularized what he calls the SUperFInger:

In 2005, Cook started his own company to produce his albums and videos, which he named SUperFInger Entertainment.

Criticism and controversy

Material and delivery

Numerous commentators have characterized Dane Cook's humor as unfunny, banal, and lacking jokes. Comedian Ron White has criticized Dane Cook for his lack of real material and for his inflated ego; saying "(He) does not make me laugh, at all, in any way, shape or form." When asked about his opinion of Cook on The Howard Stern Show, comedian Nick DiPaolo said “he doesn't make me laugh, but that doesn't mean he's not funny.” Andy Kindler, known in industry circles for his exposing of common hack techniques and his derision of those who use them, points out that much of Cook's writing employs speculative premises, portrayed as axiomatic, resulting in observations that possess only the pretense of insight. He also publicly criticizes and mocks Cook's stage mannerisms in an effort to show such delivery to be devoid of significant style or development, constituting little more than a union of excessive pacing and exaggerated enunciation. A deliberate apparatus, Kindler propounds, used to impose a tone of frenzy on material that would otherwise reveal itself banal. In April, 2008 after a "March Madness" patterned tournament, Boston radio station WBCN DJs Fred Toucher and Rich Shirtenlieb named Cook "The Unfunniest Comic". Toucher explained Cook won the dubious honor because "he's actually hated. People don't hate others the way they do him. At least Foxworthy panders to rednecks. Dane's stories are so weak you wouldn't want to hear them over lunch.

Plagiarism

After the release of his CD/DVD Retaliation, similarities were noticed between Cook's work and material recorded on Louis C.K.'s 2001 album Live in Houston. The bits in question are Louis C.K.'s "Itchy Asshole", "Guy on a Bike", and "Naming Kids". In 2005, Dane Cook performed and released three similar routines on Retaliation. These are "Itchy Asshole", "Struck by a Vehicle," and "My Son Optimus Prime", respectively.

In 2005, on the message boards of comedy web site 'A Special Thing', C.K. posted a response to his fans who accused Cook of plagiarizing from him writing "Okay, this kid is stealing from me. And making lots of money. Three bits on one CD." Later, C.K. wrote "Just so you know, guys, I'm not going to do anything about this.... I'm not going to court over a bit called 'Itchy Asshole.' In an interview on the Free Beer & Hot Wings Morning Show in February 2007, C.K. stated that while the jokes are similar, the issue was "overblown" and may stem from a backlash against Cook's popularity. However, C.K. accused Cook of being "bullyish" and litigious towards comedians for having similar material to his despite Cook claiming elsewhere that comedians often have similar material and it is not a big issue to him. C.K. also stated "Too bad the guy [Cook] can't write enough." After pressure by the hosts for a statement, C.K. ended the interview by finally adding (possibly as a joke): "Fuck Dane Cook, he's a cunt.

Comedian Joe Rogan has spoken on many occasions about Cook performing a bit on an episode of Premium Blend that Rogan had developed on I'm Gonna Be Dead Someday (sketch titled "Tigers Fucking"), and claims to have performed the routine earlier in clubs with Cook present.

Rob Sheffield criticized Dane Cook's material in a Rolling Stone article from October 2006, claiming a joke he performed was originally done by Emo Philips.

Jim Breuer talked about Dane Cook's reputation within the comedy industry, saying: "Everyone kills this guy... Not one comedian comes on (my Sirius radio show) and says `I'm so happy for him,' which is weird. ... They can't stand this poor guy." He went on to explain that a lot of comedians "are upset because they really feel this guy has snatched a lot of material".

Yuk-Yuks controversy

On July 24, 2006, Cook asked for a guest spot at the Vancouver Yuk-Yuks comedy club. Initially he was set to go up at the end of the night, but upon arriving at the club he requested to go up before the headliner, Peter Kelamis. Cook went over his allotted time, and after several minutes of the "wrap it up" light flashing, the club cut his microphone and attempted to "play him off" with music. Cook acted as though it was a mistake and continued his set for another five minutes until the process was repeated. Cook then dropped the mic and walked off-stage, furious, and was heard screaming obscenities at club employees backstage. Kelamis then refused to take the stage, and later referred to Cook's actions as "the most arrogant thing that I've ever seen in my life".

Mark Breslin, the founder of the comedy club chain, quickly apologized and blamed the club's manager. Breslin stated in support of Cook, "I'm on Dane's side totally, 100 percent." Breslin also explained that Kelamis was the last show that evening and there was no reason he could not have gone on late, stating "the tradition is that stardom trumps everything".

Other behavior

It is also rumored that during the tapings of Cook's "World Series" commercial for TBS, which he did for free, he behaved rudely on set and "demanded blocks of tickets for postseason games in return for filming the commercials for free".

In July of 2008, Dane Cook's landlord began legal proceedings to have him and his girlfriend evicted from their apartment building. The landlord had received numerous complaints from neighbors that Cook and his girlfriend were allowing their dog to defecate in the common areas of the complex without picking up after the animal. The landlord claims that several warnings to the couple apparently went ignored, and that the dog continues to defecate in the same areas without cleanup. Cook has since moved out of the apartment and recently purchased his first house in the Hollywood Hills after years of renting.

Discography

Albums

DVDs

Singles

Year Title Chart positions Album
US Hot 100 US Modern Rock US Mainstream Rock US Pop 100 UK Singles Chart Germany
2006 "I'll Never Be You" - - - 100 - 4 -
2007 "Forward" - - - - - - -

Cook co-wrote and performed the song "Ruthie Pigface Draper" for the Dan In Real Life movie with Norbert Leo Butz.

Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1997 Flypaper Tim
Buddy Fair Cop
1999 Spiral David
Simon Sez Nick Miranda
Mystery Men The Waffler
2002 L.A.X. Terrell Chasman
The Touch Bob
2003 Stuck on You Officer Fraioli
8 Guys Dane
Windy City Heat Roman Polanski TV Movie
2004 Mr. 3000 Sausage Mascot Voice
Torque Neal Luff
2005 Waiting... Floyd
London George
2006 Employee of the Month Zack Bradley
2007 Farce of the Penguins Online Penguin Voice
Mr. Brooks Mr. Smith
Good Luck Chuck Chuck/Charlie
Dan in Real Life Mitch Burns
2008 Horton Hears a Who! Johnny Smooth Voice
My Best Friend's Girl Tank

Notes

External links

News articles & interviews

tags

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