Perhaps the Strongest Case of ADHD in an Adult... Ever
Jul 29, 2009
Dane Cook. He's one of those comedians that actually has quite a reputation. He's also a guy you're either going to really love or really hate. It's not so much his comedy with Dane so much as it is that a lot of the time it's just pretty hard to slug through a joke. He is definitely unique. This much we can definitely say. But he's also a comedian that has brought criticism based on the idea that he's all over the place but there's really not much focus in what he does.
Sometimes Dane can be amusing, but watching his stand up can be quite... umm... "interesting." I remember watching one of his specials on Comedy Central and couldn't understand anything. Because, you know, they bleep out the word F@#k. Well, even so, you never had a problem understanding Chris Rock or Jon Stewart on that channel (who drop quite a few F-bombs). When I watched it uncensored I pretty much got the same feeling. The first being that I didn't laugh too much. But WHY wasn't I laughing? Is it because Dane Cook isn't funny or is it because of his comedic style? Perhaps Dane is funny. If he makes you laugh, he makes you laugh. Yet when I hear jokes, it can be a bit... hard to really laugh at them when they're so over the place. Listening to Dane on CD in particular doesn't do you a lot of good either. He relies on A LOT of body language. Without SEEING Dane Cook, it's hard to laugh at him. And even then you might be wondering if Dane is actually performing, or if he just as a serious case of ADHD. I'm just going to guess it's ADHD.
But it isn't even his body language which can be annoying. I think what bugs me the most about Cook is just that he's so off the wall and all over the place that much of his jokes make no sense. Actually, I'd even argue they're not jokes. Most times they seem to be just amusing stories.
In his comedy special "Vicious Circle" I watched as Dane told a "joke" about causing a "B&E" and my first thought was that it could be amusing. He has this way of sinking down to a common level when he tells jokes. Yet what I couldn't stand is that this was not really a joke. It was really just a very very long story. We had to learn about a friend who accompanied him and thought he heard a car. Then I watched as the "punchline" here was actually that he didn't want to commit a a breaking and entering... he just wanted to kick down a door. This had really nothing to do with the joke he began telling. So was it really a joke or was it just an amusing story? And if it WAS a story... what was the point of this story? We hear about how he wants to Break and Enter into some place only to find out he just wanted to kick down a door? Except the story doesn't exactly stop there. He goes on and on about how the family must feel and what they think and how they might be traumatized by it. We're so far away from what the original premise of this "joke" was supposed to be. But in particular there is no real punchline. The audience found it quite hilarious, though. Here, take a look:
Even worse is that continuing to watch the special I noticed one thing about Dane... he can't tell a joke because he's too busy going all over the place. He'll begin one of his stories... then tell a different story that has nothing to do with the story he began with in the first place (within the story itself). In short, Dane takes several asides... that often have nothing to do with the story he began. To provide a better example: Let's say I'm trying to tell you about a movie and get sidetracked and start talking about one of the actors instead and then talking about a different movie. And then fifteen minutes later I get back to the original movie you wanted to hear about the entire time. Dane Cook is like that. He tells several stories within stories that aren't really connected. But he'll also go on and on for a long time.
The Onion satarized this in one of their fake news stories about Dane being able to go on for an hour about a menu item off of the Burger King menu. This was part of the reason why it was so hard to grasp Cook's style as a comedian. If it's a really long story is it really a joke? And if it's a story you can barely tell thanks to all your asides... how good of a storyteller are you? Sure, a lot of people find this funny, but most time it just comes off as a lot of randomness that isn't going anywhere. You almost want to ask Dane, "What's the point of this story?" In this case, it is a wonder if Dane is telling jokes. And if he is the punchline just doesn't... "punch" in quite the way people would expect.
In another joke from the same special, we see Dane go on a rant about Atheist. But this is worse than the Breaking and Entering bit because not only does he get sidetracked talking about windex (for a whole minute) but he takes forever to get the point because he also gets sidetracked by the sneeze itself, so he has to go on for a moment about sneezes as well. Here, take a look:
Listening to Dane on CD doesn't do much good. Without the body language it's more nutty randomness. And Dane cook is absolutely crazy with his body langauge. Apparently Dane seems to think that being loud and crazy on stage is all it takes to garner laughs. Well, maybe, but he's also so all over the place and crazy that some people might not find him to be all that funny at all. In fact when he really goes crazy he can really go crazy:
The issue with all these clips is the same: It's all so unfocused. I ask again, are these jokes, stories or just random thoughts going through Dane's head? Most of his "jokes" really just begin with Dane doing something, then taking a different direction halfway through. Most of these stories would probably be more amusing if Dane could simply just stop having so many different asides within the story itself (I'm just not convinced these are "jokes"). They'd also be amusing if Dane wasn't so busy flopping around stage and just going all around crazy. His sound effects and stage antics can be amusing... or just a bad case of ADHD. In short, what Dane is really missing the most is focus. Is there humor? Yeah there's humor. But you can have a sense of humor and not really be funny. You can also have a sense of humor and just be annoying with it.
That's not to say I've never laughed at Dane Cook or found something he said to be humorous. It's just that he doesn't make me laugh much. Nothing has ever been more true than watching Dane Cook act. It's bad enough that say... Good Luck Chuck didn't have a good story (and tried so hard to mimic the Judd Apatow style) but many of the jokes just weren't that amusing or fun. Of course, as an actor Dane hasn't done much or made nearly as big a name for himself as he has being a Comedian.
As far as being "offensive," and "banal" and that sort of thing, Dane Cook can be harsh, but when watching Stand Up Comedy... how bad is this, really? Chris Rock, anyone? Jon Stewart? Adam Sandler? Judd Apatow? The Onion? These are all people who do some sort of offensive humor in some way... or vulgar humor. In that regard Dane Cook isn't doing anything new in the slightest. The question isn't whether or not Dane's humor is too offensive... it has more to do with whether or not it's funny. And most times it really isn't. But is that because he's not funny or is it because of his unfocused comedic style? I'm guessing it could be his crazy off the wall style. He's so off the wall that he somtimes can't be understood. He's certainly loud... but loud doesn't equate to funny.
As I said, that doesn't mean Dane is never funny. It's to say that the laughs are few and very far between in each of his stand up specials. And listening to him on CD is about as entertaining as listening to white noise. Without watching Dane much of his humor is completely lost.
There are, of course, those who love Dane Cook. A lot. He is one of the fastest and most successful comedians. He has achieved a cult status among people. You either really enjoy Dane Cook or you don't. Well, I don't. It has little to do with Dane being sophisticated. Every breakout comedian gets a lot of criticism and flack. Hopefully Dane Cook will grow and mature as a comedian. He is, after all, still in his infancy. People such as Chris Rock, Richard Pryor and Dave Chapelle had a ways to go before they achieved brand new heights, yet I don't recall any of those guys receiving nearly as much flack as Dane gets.
I'm sure none of these criticisms bother Dane. Indeed they shouldn't. But when comedy isn't funny what good is it, exactly? And when you're telling these stories instead of actual jokes should you be doing stand up? Or writing comedic screenplays? I'll let you decide. I shall credit Dane for having such an unusual style that may take A LOT of time to get used to... it is most certainly unique. But it also stands that at this point in time it dosn't quite work.
This guy is about as funny as getting crabs. His jokes are flat, and he seems to think that if you move around a lot, you're automatically hilarious. If you want modern comedians that are acutally funny, check out Louis CK, Jim Norton, Bill Burr, Jim Gaffigan, Patrice O'Neal, Joe Derosa, and Nick Dipaolo.
If you are a fan of the best comics to come along in the last fifteen years, you'll probably like Dane Cook. Why? Because he's ripped pretty much all of those comics off and somehow made a career out of it.
Everyone at my old job thought this guy was hysterical. I'd seen his CD's and he's been on TV and I was really interested in listening to him. I got ahold of his double live CD and it is one of the biggest, most collosus sized turn offs ever. First of all, almost ALL of his humor is physical with him on stage running around like a maniac. That doesn't translate onto a CD where you are only hearing and not seeing. Secondly his … more
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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