When I first saw Dane Cook, I laughed my ass off. It was pretty early in the comedian’s career, and I was pretty delighted when Cook started to get successful, selling comedy CDs that revitalized the genre and hosting Saturday Night Live.
Then, he started coming out with movies, and after the terrible Employee of the Month, I started to hear people turn against him. “He’s so frat boy,” they’d say, “All of his jokes are retarded.” And I knew what was happening to him. Dane Cook is about to go through a comedy meltdown, and it’s happened before.
Remember how much everyone used to love Pauly Shore?
You have to think back really, really hard, but there was a time when America loved the guy. He had dozens of hit movies, millions of dollars, and countless legions of teenagers quoting every one of his semi-brainless catchphrases.
Yes, Pauly Shore was at the apex of comedy, in a position that most comedians can only dream of. Then, suddenly, everything turned against him.
There was no specific reason for it; he was basically doing the same bit that he’d always done, the stoner-idiot guy with the cheap physical gags. But for some reason, it just stopped working, and people got violent against him. Everyone got on the Pauly-Shore-Hate-Train, and he went from A-list to a few rungs below Ernest (kids, ask your parents if you don’t know who Ernest is).
Comedy’s a tough place; someone who’s funny one minute is brutally despised the next, and it’s pretty unfair. Maybe Shore was too blunt of a comedian, maybe it was that he was disposable; more than anything, it was probably that his jokes were too one dimensional. But there are one dimensional comedians that go for dozens of years doing the same tired act. For some reason or another, success wasn’t sustainable for Pauly Shore, and now it’s not sustainable for Dane Cook.
Yes, I’m afraid that Dane Cook is next in line on the comedy chopping block, and for me, that’s a bit depressing, because the guy hasn’t even had a funny movie yet. His stand up act is hilarious unless you’re so much of a hipster as to deny that silly, simple gags can sometimes be the funniest, and he’s got a certain charisma that, while instantly likeable, slowly grates on your nerves-like Paul Shore’s.
That’s the problem. Dane Cook works best in small doses, and by putting him in the limelight for so long, Hollywood is souring his appeal. Boisterous, loud comedians don’t get to be at the top of Hollywood, or they wilt; just ask The Weasel.
To paraphrase comic legend Mitch Hedburg, Dane Cook is like the pancakes of comedy-really good at first, but by the second or third one, you’re sick of them. Eventually, America’s going to stop ordering the pancakes, and we’ll see Dane Cook as another sunken comedy battleship, down at the floor of the entertainment ocean with Gallagher, Carrot Top and Yakov.
Sorry, Dane. People can be brutal.