Any evening at the Los Angeles Improv on Melrose, it is guaranteed that you will overhear stalwart touring comedians and club regulars inevitably break into their “Dane Cook sucks” rant, growing as news media outlets are posting both respectable editorial and blogger blather about the energetic Boston boy’s meteoric rise in the comedy world.
Not since Andrew Dice Clay or Sam Kinison has a comedian come on so strong, dominating tv, cd sales, the internet and touring.
HBO recently featured Dane Cook in “Vicious Circle, ” his one-man show, plus the tediously long “Tourgasm” series. Cook has done guest star stints on SNL, (Saturday Night Live) sold out stadium shows and won roles in films like “Employee of the Month.”
But comics are grousing, he isn’t funny to them, and the scuttlebutt in comedy clubs is that Cook steals material from established stars like Louis C.K. Can this be true?
Unquestionably, Cook invested in himself, and has mastered the art of being his own marketing genius by plunking down his life savings into a web site and creating a focused build up of viral My Space marketing. He is an energetic talent and savvy self-promoter, no one can deny, but a comedy great?
MSNBC reports that Jim Breuer, a comedian, radio host and former “SNL” cast member who helms a Sirius Satellite Radio show that includes many comedians as guests says: “Not one comedian comes on (my show) and says `I’m so happy for him,’ which is weird. … They can’t stand this poor guy.”
Breuer states Cook is a “tremendous performer,” but says a lot of comedians “are upset because they really feel this guy has snatched a lot of material.” According to MSNBC.
Bloggers and comedy fan sites have gone into sniping mode over “Retaliation,” which debuted last year at No. 4 on the Billboard pop chart, speculating plagiarism by Cook of jokes by Louis C.K.
Cook seems non plussed by the lack of peer adulation, yet the backlash appears to be growing, with recent slams from Rolling Stone and Salon.com, and a spoof of Cook by the Fox sketch comedy show “Mad TV.”
“When you’re in the wrong relationship, with somebody awful, I call that a relationsh*t.” A typical Dane Cook “joke.” Kids scream, girls swoon as he mock “makes out” on stage, and comedy afficiandos are left shaking their heads.
But it is his high energy approach to his comedy and his delivery, despite the commoness of his material, that endears him. He is charismatic, kind and counts iconic American late night host Johnny Carson as an influence on giving his all to the audience, even if it doesn’t follow formula comedy.
“I got my balls busted for a long time when I first started the Web site,” Cook recently told The Associated Press. “Those same comics that were busting on me were coming back to me five years later and asking `Hey, how do I set up a MySpace?'”
Like the popular comedy legend John Pinette, another Boston funny man, Dane Cook knows the power is with the audience and plays up his big love with all fans. It is reported that he will sign every last autograph after a show and treats his fans with graciousness.
His unflappable and earnest nature is a far cry from most comics reaction to their fans, sometimes exhibiting unbridled hostility, indifference and bitterly tinged anger.
In the liner notes to “Retaliation,” he thanks his parents: “Mom — I’m right where you always told me I’d be. Dad — I’m proud to be your son.”
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