On the Comeback Trail, Dane Cook Tells It like It Is

By Durchholz, Daniel | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), March 1, 2019 | Go to article overview

On the Comeback Trail, Dane Cook Tells It like It Is


Durchholz, Daniel, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Dane Cook has felt your, um, opprobriation. And he's fine with it.

During a decade-long run of incredible success, the comedian and actor, who is just beginning his first standup tour in nearly six years, sold out arenas on the reg, turning his routines into Comedy Central and HBO specials such as "Harmful If Swallowed," "Vicious Circle" and "Troublemaker" and placing albums including "Retaliation" and "Isolated Incident" high on the Billboard charts. He also built up an acting portfolio that includes starring roles in "Good Luck Chuck," "Dan in Real Life" and "My Best Friend's Girl."

At the same time, Cook suffered vicious brickbats hurled by critics and fellow comedians alike. Rather than let them get him down or define him, he used the abuse as a motivator.

"If anything, it was just fuel," Cook says by phone from his office in Los Angeles.

Cook was puzzled, he says, because he thinks of himself as the non-controversial type. "I don't argue," he says. "I'm a pacifist. Never had a drink or drug in my life." He couldn't figure out why he was being "displayed as this anomaly, this polarizing person."

In terms of acting, though, all that derision led to a breakthrough.

"I had thought of myself as being kind of one-dimensional, only to come through all that and find out, 'Oh, I can be multifaceted and play different kinds of roles,'" Cook says. "I can play a bad guy because apparently people don't like me. And that's good. I started getting dramatic, bad-guy roles simply based on the quote-unquote 'bad press.'"

Cook decided to return to standup this year, he says, because the material he's been working on since his last special, 2014's "Troublemaker, is "really, really ready" and marks an evolution in both his life and work. "It reflects who I am today," he says.

"I still want the laughs-per-minute -- 'LPM' as we say in comedy. But after many years of road work and then finding success, I can now be both observational and introspective. So it's an exciting new chapter for me."

A decade ago or so, Cook lived through a horrific period that saw the death of both of his parents in a short span of time as well as the conviction of his half-brother, a business associate, who had embezzled millions of dollars from him. …

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