Monday, August 20, 2007

Thanks, Bryan Curtis...thanks...

Slate.com's Bryan Curtis has written the essential critique of America's sweetheart, Dane Cook. I couldn't have said it better myself.

And now Dane Cook is the official spokesperson of Major League Baseball's post-season. There will be a vlog, oh yes, there will be a vlog.

7 comments:

D.W. said...

I have to disagree with you on this post, fella. It's fine that you think Dane Cook sucks, but you have tpo come up with a better argument than what this article makes.

It seems to be essentially saying that Dane is an observational comic who doesn't create enough friction with his observations. And for that, he fails to live up to the requirements of a good comedian. OK. I can concede Cook's being a observational comic, but I take issue with the second part.

The writer uses Jerry Seinfeld, the most famously observational comic, as a counterpoint to Dane Cook's supposed lack of confrontational values by stating that Seinfeld "explicates... a blessedly mundane (moral code)." Seriously? That's it? If an entire stand-up career based on a desire for the ordinary causes enough friction to be considered great, why are we judging Cook on such harsher terms?

I'm not trying to devalue Seinfeld, only to apply to same judgement system to Cook. The point of view in Cook's comedy comes not just from voicing the "secret dreams of 22 year-olds," but from espousing that we would be better off if these dreams were a reality. No, it's not the revolutionary visions of Bill Hicks, but it has to be at least up there with the mundaness of Jerry Seinfeld, right?

Also, I think you hate him so much because you have a huge crush on him and that scares you.

Gabe said...

I agree that Curtis' use of Seinfeld is a poor choice of model around which to build an argument about observational humor. Seinfeld as a stand-up comic is different from Seinfeld as a sitcom. The sitcom took the seemingly mundane and raised it to a level of grand comedy. I'm not sure Seinfeld achieves that in his stand-up. If Curtis wanted to make a solid comparison, he'd use George Carlin as a better example of observational humor brought to a higher, more cerebral level. Say what you want about Carlin, there's nothing mediocre about his material. And that's what I hate about comedians like Dane Cook. It's entirely mediocre. That's not saying he's not clever or charismatic (I do have a crush on him and it bugs me), it's just that there's isn't any substance behind the joke. It's safe. And we don't have time for safe in this country anymore.

One of the most popular American stand-ups right now is Larry the Cable Guy. His whole act is essentially a racist monologue. And I find him less offensive than Dane Cook because at least Larry the Cable Guy is saying something.

And no, I'm not saying every comedian has to be socially relevant. They have their place. What I resent is their popularity, which I believe is symptomatic of our culture's ignorance. And by ignorance, I mean ignorance regarding the state of their lives. I understand the need to escape and enjoy ourselves, but at some point, we're going to look around realize we can't pretend everything's ok.

D.W. said...

I understand that point, but I think it needs modification. It's true that Dane Cook doesn't challenge his audience, and it is (in the end) just escapist and fun. Then you also say that there is nothing wrong with that, but chastise his popularity. It sounds like you are going too far in assuming that everybody who likes Dane Cook also dislikes every comic who actually does challenge us.

You're right, we can't pretend everything is ok all of the time. But we can some of the time, right? Isn't that the place for Dane Cook? I like a lot of his stuff because it's clever and silly and child-like and I think he does that better than most comics at the moment. But I also listen to comics who do challenge me far more often than I listen to Cook. What's wrong with that?

I watch the news alot and cry and get angry and then I watch sports for 6 hours and have fun (unless the Astros are playing and I cry then, too). I think it might be unfair to assume that every Dane Cook fan is only a sports watcher and not a news watcher. Does that make any sense at all?

In the end I have far more respect for Bill Hicks and George Carlin and Richard Pryor and the like, but I still think that Dane Cook is funny. Sometimes.

And I can't believe you put Larry the Cable Guy above Dane Cook. I'm curious to know how you feel about Carlos Mencia. Your reputation in my eyes hinges on that response.

Gabe said...

Well, when you bring up Mencia, then we get into the ethics of comedy. Both Mencia (outed by many, but most famously Joe Rogan) and Cook (politely forgiven by Louis C.K. for swiping his shit) rip people off. Again, despite the fact that I think Larry the Cable Guy stinks on ice, I'm pretty sure he's writing his own material.

All said, it's a matter of personal perspective. I don't always appreciate silly, clever comedy. And what I find irritating is America is convinced that this what people want. Even my experience with the Fanhouse stuff (and I am by no means a comedian) is influenced by what John and I can get away with on an AOL-affiliated site. And this isn't because we fear censorship, it's because we're trying to get popular. And that's frustrating.

I guess my problem, bottom line, is exactly that. I'm frustrated that popular opinion often dictates what we see. This is why we have to sit through seventeen seasons of Big Brother while a show like John From Cincinatti now has a massive petition campaign to keep it on the air despite having JUST STARTED. This is why Dane Cook is popular and Louis C.K. has to struggle to get his shows made, despite having a fucking Emmy.

JCN said...

I can't forgive John From Cincinnati for stealing the creative energy that should have been Deadwood's. And no, I've never seen it.

mugwatch said...

I like cake.

Hackett said...

I think a lot of the animosity directed at Dane Cook is misguided. No, he's not the Golden Boy of Comedy, but he is EXTREMELY successful. This is based on an uncanny knack for marketing and a nose for burgeoning technology. I think the reason for the disDANE (holy shit, see what i did there?!?) is that his level of success/fame way outgrew his talent. And, following the trend of anything well marketed, it's not that it's what people are calling out for, but it's what they're being given.

In my opinion, he's a funny comedian who i'd love to pay $20 to see at the improv (never at a Megasuperdomeplex) and a shred businessman.

P.S. - I just forewent the opportunity to see Jimmy Norton, The Bobs Kelly and Sagat, Louis CK, Otto & George, Partice O'Neal and awful Rich Vos all in one evening because i didn't want to support any money that Mencia, also on the ticket, would be making.