Dane Cook Is Getting Back to His Stand-Up Comedy Roots

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

May 12 2023, Updated 4:01 p.m. ET

Dane Cook doing stand up comedy
Source: comedy central

I remember first watching Dane Cook's half-hour Comedy Central special when I was 14 years old and was taken aback by how much confidence and enthusiasm he exuded on stage.

The energy he was giving off reminded me of a young Jim Carrey, who was a clear influence on the up-and-coming comedian.

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A huge reason why Dane was so successful was how much enthusiasm he brought to the stage. He had this young wonderment and happiness to be performing in front of a crowd that was undeniable — you could feel it pouring out of your TV set.

However, now, it's almost as if Dane's career in comedy is non-existent, which has a lot of people asking:

What happened to Dane Cook?

dane cook show
Source: Getty Images

Dane Cook at Comic Relief in 2006.

After that fateful Comedy Central special, Dane's rise to fame was meteoric. He was a young, good-looking comedian who had energy for days; he was a breakout star.

Everyone was not only watching Dane Cook and selling out his shows across the country, but they were buying his CDs (remember those?) in droves.

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His 2003 comedy album, Harmful if Swallowed sold more than 1.2 million units, making it certified platinum. His 2005 Retaliation went double platinum and charted at No. 5 on the Billboard charts.

He was the first comic in 27 years to do so, after Steve Martin's A Wild and Crazy Guy, which is no small feat.

dane cook retaliation
Source: Getty Images
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He was also the second comedian, after Andrew Dice Clay, to sell out Madison Square Garden with his special, Rough Around the Edges. By that time, Dane's demeanor had changed. 

He wasn't hopping around the stage, filled with ambition, and sweating his butt off to get you to laugh, he seemed a lot more comfortable and delivered his jokes much differently.

It was around that time, something became evident that many comics and fans of comedy already knew: Dane didn't really tell jokes. The man relied heavily on his delivery.

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His previous bits did have some set-up and the features of a great stand-up story. He's got some great crowd interaction, he has a personal story that subverts people's expectations, I mean it's a funny premise to work at a job your brother got you, only for him to be an even bigger jerk of a boss than someone you weren't related to.

But the crux of the bit is his passion for acting out the horrible cacophony of ordering in the drive-thru, which is his greatest comedic weapon.

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People noted that Dane's comic style attracted a lot of younger audience members — I'd describe him as the first "YouTube" comic. There are a lot of "funny" YouTubers that get clicks for being loud, obnoxious, overly excitable, and silly.

I'd argue that Dane is nowhere near as grating as someone like Jake Paul, but it is interesting to note that he's one of the first comedians to use their own website and MySpace pages to build a fan base.

Dane Cook was accused of stealing jokes from Louis C.K.

dane cook louis ck
Source: Getty Images

Dane Cook and Louis CK

Plagiarism is a big deal in the comedy world and a lot of comics have had their careers tanked as a result of it — just ask Carlos Mencia. It could be argued that lots of comics "borrow" from others, in fact, some of the most beloved and celebrated ones, like Robin Williams have been found guilty of it.

Dane Cook, at the height of his career, which included a slew of critical and commercial movie flops and tons of exposure, started coming under more and more scrutiny.

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That's when viewers began to notice that there were some Louis C.K. bits Dane got "inspiration" from. People have even gone so far as to create some side-by-side compilations of Dane's "theft" of C.K.'s material.

Louis, who also had a fall of grace during the #MeToo movement — once quipped that he wasn't going to do anything about Dane's plagiarism, "I'm not going to court over a bit called 'Itchy a--hole' he said.

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Louis, however, did confront Dane Cook in his show, Louie, about their feud on camera. He even talked about the back-and-forth between him and Dane and how the surprising and raw scene came to fruition. It's a fascinating read.

What's interesting to me is that even Louis had admitted in his story that Dane provided some great ideas for their interaction, but that his "ego" made him shoot Dane's ideas down.

It wasn't until later that Louis realized Dane's suggestions for their scene were actually funnier than some of the ideas he had.

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Even prior to the joke-stealing accusations, Dane became sort of a comic anathema. If you were a "real" fan of comedy, you couldn't like his jokes. You couldn't laugh at them or think that he was talented.

And the truth was, compared to other master joke-writers and storytellers, he wasn't. However, what Dane Cook did have, at his best, was an unbridled enthusiasm that was a bit contagious. And it appealed to a lot of people, it still does today: the man has 2.6 million followers on Twitter.

Dane Cook's Colorado shooting joke, and T.J. Miller beef.

dane cook tj miller
Source: Getty Images

T.J. Miller and Dane Cook.

In 2012, Dane made a joke about the Aurora, Colo. shooting during a screening of The Dark Knight in 2012. Dane quipped that there was probably someone watching the film and not enjoying it and saying to themselves, "Ugh, somebody shoot me."

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Dane later apologized for the joke, especially after getting flak for making light of such devastating news. T.J. Miller, who went on to get criticisms of his own, wrote a blisteringly brutal review of Dane's 2012 performance, calling it "misogynistic" and a poor attempt of purposefully bombing to work out his own issues on stage.

Dane didn't take too kindly to T.J.'s words and the two have maintained a beef for years. In fact, Dane even referenced the "bomb review" of T.J.'s in a 2018 tweet, when T.J. got in trouble for calling in a fake bomb threat.

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dane cook

Then, in 2017, he came under fire for dating his now fiancée Kelsi Taylor, who is 27 years younger than him. Dane proposed to Kelsi in 2022, tweeting, "The love of my life is now my fiancée! To everyone sending us love and positive notes, we appreciate it tremendously."

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So, what is Dane Cook doing today? He's back on tour!

dane cook stand up comedy
Source: Getty Images

It looks like Dane is getting back to stand-up comedy roots, and announced his Perfectly Shattered Tour in 2023. Tickets are available for purchase on his website, and he will be touring until the end of the year.

In a recent interview, Dane opened up about how he approaches comedy now that he is older, and what fans can expect from his shows today.

"I still have the same sense of ambition. It’s more about an inward journey at this point, and what I can share with fans and those who continue to check in with me," he told Philadelphia Weekly. "It is just important for me to be emotionally honest up there on the stage. Like I said earlier, it is about observing and reporting."

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He continued, "When I get on stage, I still have a love of the game. The enthusiasm is organic, not put on. I do have dark corners though. I definitely feel like I have joy at having had – and still do – a successful run at this industry."

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