I was perusing the internet on a break during my church gig this morning when I was greeted by Dane Cook's ominous visage glaring at me from Myspace's home page. I had forgotten about Dane Cook, but I was immediately reminded of how much I dislike him. I was bored, so I thought I would use a search engine to find kindred spirits on the internet. I typed in "dane cook sucks."
I found a pretty well-written blog listing the top five reasons to not like Dane Cook, and I found them to be very well thought-out. The reasons included joke theft, a lack of respect for other performers, his annoying superfans, a lack of punchlines, and a lack of social relevance. I would add to that my biggest reason for disliking him, which is his wretched delivery.
He's got the grace and subtlety of a hydrogen bomb. I don't care if that's his "thing." Jimmy Fallon has a "thing," and it's to break character in every sketch-- in other words, to be a terrible actor, and, therefore, comedian. Dane Cook's "lack of subtlety" thing is no better. His material is not very good, but it's delivered in such an adolescent manner that it ruins any possible interesting undertone. Contrast that withPatton Oswalt, whose delivery is so spot-on that he can do a bit, verbatim, that I've heard many times and still have me in tears laughing. His material is good, but the way it's delivered is what gives it indisputable, gut-busting power.
I've heard this as a common critique for critics of Dane Cook: "you just hate him because he's famous." Patton Oswalt and David Cross are famous, but I really enjoy them, as do many who get pissed off by Dane Cook. I don't hate Dane Cook because he's famous; I hate him because he's famous and he sucks. His act reminds me of many irritating pseudo-intelligent people I knew in high school who were convinced they were hyper-intelligent and hilarious for acting loud, wacky, and stupid. I think Dane Cook's commercial success probably comes from the fact that there are millions of these irritating people in America and they relate to Cook-- perhaps even look to him like a hero, their champion of mediocrity. Add to that the facts that he was probably in the right place at the right time and that you don't need anything beyond a second-grade vocabulary to understand his jokes, and it's no wonder he's rich and famous. So were 98 Degrees, for a few minutes, but they didn't even have N'Sync's longevity.
I'm sure there are many nice, cool, intelligent people who like Dane Cook, and I really don't want to put them down. I know several myself, and I would never make fun of them for listening to Dane Cook, and I would never tell them they shouldn't. I'm a bit of a geek when it comes to language and comedy, and I'm very irritated by things that most people don't pay attention to, which is detrimental to my enjoyment of things that many people like. This isn't always good. Still, I predict that people will still be listening to David Cross and Patton Oswalt's records decades into the future, while Dane Cook will disappear like cotton candy. I don't wish failure on any performing artist, but I strongly believe in raising the bar, not lowering it.