Or, Why I Like Dane Cook Better Than You.
It would take a lot for me to write about Dane Cook, now that even mentioning the name draws yawns in comic's circles (and most other circles as well.) But now it has to do with me! Me me me me me! And I love to write anything that has to do with me on some underwhelming level.
I found this in a Dane Cook interview ( http://dailyfiasco.com/2009/05/20/dane-cook-talks-comedy-critics/) where he says -
"...there’s a lot of cynical, jealous guys. I’m not going to name names, but I know some of the names that you want to check. You just have to look at their careers. You have to look at where they’re at and what they’re probably frustrated about and you also have to understand that the guys I came up with, the group I came up the ranks with are very proud of me, and they’re the only opinions that matter."
Before I get to my point let's stop here for a moment. I think it might have been Rogan that said it in an interview - someone said it - that there are lots of comedians who make it really big and are actually respected and congratulated by their peers.
Shitloads of them.
Chris Rock? Name two comics of any merit who don't like Chris Rock. You can't. Who doesn't like Dave Chappelle? One of my personal heroes and I can't name a comedian I've heard say a bad thing about him in 19 years of this business. How about Jon Stewart? Fucking brilliant, huge for a long, long time and no spite from the comedy world whatsoever.
So why no backlash from other comedians? Because comics know the difference between craftsmanship and repeatedly hitting oneself in the face with pies.
But that's not why I'm writing.
In the same interview, Dane was quoted as saying -
"It’s funny because there’s another name of another guy that’s maybe one of the most vocal guys. After my mom passed away, this guy wrote me the first e-mail that I got. He said 'I remember you talking about your mom at this spot that you and I were in one time on a show together. I just wanted to say how sorry I am. I knew she meant a lot to you. As far as some of the backlash, and some of the things people are saying, it’s all a game.' He admitted to me he embraced it simply to satisfy his fans. I’m behind the scenes, and I know the real deal with some of the things people are saying."
The comedian in question was me. Only the email has been gently misquoted just enough to make it change from being a kind word to fitting his agenda. What a cruddy thing to do.
I found the email that I sent and it says exactly this -
Just read in an article that your Mother passed away. I remember how you and I would call our Mothers after shows in SF in 95 so, regardless of all the dogshit that is show business, I know how that is real.
My sincere condolences. The rest is just a game.
That's it, Dane. If you somehow read into this that I embrace the repercussions against you only to satisfy my fans, you have keen glasses on, sir.
I am unsure how you took "it's all a game" to specifically regard why you are disliked by comedians at all nor is it even inferred.
It is a game perhaps in that the shit I talk about you ireally doesn't affect my daily life one way or another whatever you do. It's just a game in that this entire industry is ludicrous, the idea that laughter is such a rarity in this work-and-die structure of humanity that we can get paid to provide it and that people can get as much of an outlet or more from hating an entertainer as liking them, and so on.
You make it sound like I only insult your stand-up as though I had some PR angle in doing so. Why can't you just come to grips with the fact that most comics don't like your style of stand-up? The ones that I know who don't like you publicly now, didn't like you privately before you were widely recognized. It's just that back then nobody in the press had reason to ask.
Listen, I'm not trying to be a prick but you are the one using my words as some de facto evidence that the comedy world would love you if it weren't for the success.
People, listen to me. Obviously I am not a fan of Dane Cook's comedy. I've enjoyed not liking his comedy for almost 15 years and I think I've disliked him (not on any personal level, just professionally and for fun) in a very healthy way.
Dane and I did the San Francisco Comedy Competition together in 1995. That's how we met.
We were both fairly new to the industry and I saw his manager at the Melrose Improv in LA shortly before the competition started. When it came up that I would be competing, he jokingly tried to bet me prize money against his guy Dane.
I said no. I didn't even know his guy.
Besides... competitions are all bullshit. (That was written with a warped-tooth grin.)
Cut to - Mitch Hedberg and I are there for the first night of a three week competition that goes all over Northern California. The top five finishers averaged over the first week move on to the second round. The top five of the second round go to the finals.
This is when I pass Dane's manager at the bar, he says with his big pelican head, "Aren't you glad you didn't bet me priiiize money now?"
I am drunk and hateful and primed to talk shit so I say "I'll bet you 100 dollars I win this whole fucking thing no matter what your guy does."
He made the bet and for the next three weeks it turned into me and Dane neck in neck the whole way to the final night and I won 10,000 clams. Plus one hundred dollars from Dane's manager.
It took me a year and three different payments to get the hundred dollars in full. One time I had my mother go up to him at the Improv.
"You still owe my son 60 dollars."
"Heh heh. Let's see. I only have twenty on me."
"I'll take it."
I remember a lot of nights during the competition that both Dane and I would be calling our mothers to tell em how we did and it was kinda funny.
That is why I wrote him the email when I heard his mother died. Because I felt sympathy for a guy I knew (although I did feel a little schadenfreude in hearing that his brother scammed him for millions but that's different.)
In a lot of ways, the backlash against Dane sucked for me because it made Dane-bashing tired and stole that joy from me. I feel like the guy that knew the band when they were just a garage nuisance and now everybody else is hip to em. "I knew Dane Cook sucked before you guys ever even heard of him!"
Now everybody is doing it and hating him doesn't have the same personal feel anymore.
Overall, Dane Cook's high profile is good for me and others like me because it creates a sort of protest market, people who want to see some other type of comedy specifically because it's not that, like rooting for anyone playing against Yankees.
Keep in mind it's just fucking comedy. The worst vitriol and invective that you hear one comic say about another, it's still just a stupid fucking job. Don't you go getting too wrapped up in it, it's not your fight. No need for you to go sending off shitty emails to one side or the other.
People take this shit way more seriously than even the comics themselves, sometimes when they don't even know what the fuck they are talking about.
Watching the whole Rogan/Mencia plagerism thing go down and reading horribly misspelled comments on YouTube that said shit like "Who cares who wrote it if Carlos does it better it then he owns it" - you know even Mencia would cringe at his own fan's idiocy.
It's as though people think that we are all in some heated competition and they will win us over by saying that they hate some other stand-up.
The truth is that if I walked into a bar crowded with a bunch of my fans and Dane Cook, I would go hang out with Dane first without question. Nothing personal but I'd have something to talk about with him. We are in the same very small business for the same amount of time and, except for the numbers and the small details, have a lot in common that I don't have with but a handful of people on this planet.
Hitler might have taken Mussolini for a chump but I bet if they met up in an airport bar in Hell, they'd probably have a lot more to talk about with each other than with their troops.
Dane Cook and I would probably have a great laugh about all the shitty emails we get from people.
Here's why I think it's ok for me to say Dane Cook sucks but you shouldn't.
First, you really shouldn't be spending so much time disliking people. As has been said a million times - turn the channel and go find something you like. Life is too short. Find something great and come back and tell us about it on the internet rather than only spewing your pro bono critiques of what infuriates you, thus advertising it.
Is that hugely hypocritical of me? Unbelievably. I should be slapped.
But - and secondly - I believe I am more qualified in saying that Dane Cook sucks because I am in the business and know all the tricks and the angles. I know exactly why he sucks and that makes me irritated when other people say he sucks when they have no idea why.
Here's the analogy...
It's like if you are an expert plumber and you fucking hate AAA Plumbing because you know they aren't very good at their craft but they thrive because they are first in the phone book and have no shame in driving around town in a van with a giant styrofoam faucet on the top of it with full-page ads in every Thrifty Nickel newspaper and coupon book.
Now I - who doesn't know jack-shit about plumbing - say AAA plumbing sucks because I tried to stick a whole turkey carcass down my garbage disposal on Thanksgiving along with a million other assholes and they were too busy to help me.
I call you and say "Fuck AAA Plumbing, You Rock!" You know I don't even hate them for the right reason and if you ever ran into AAA plumbing in a bar on Thanksgiving night, you'd laugh at all the assholes who stuck turkeys down their garabge disposals, and not who's first in the Yellow Pages.
So leave the Dane Cook hating to me and you go out and find shit for us to enjoy.
We don't all need to be this miserable all at the same time.
As much as I love playing rock n roll venues, I have to admit it was really fucking nice to play the San Jose Improv. You forget that when a club is decent and actually wants you to be there rather than treating you like you're just another liquor order that needs to sold, clubs can be really fucking cool.
It was an off-night so the audience knew who they were there to see - no weekend, girls-night-out office douches or laughter-is-the-best-medicine van of deveopmentally challenged going out for an evening of state-sponsored hilarity (although a lot of my audience would fool you into thinking otherwise.)
Giant suite at a 5 star hotel, order anything off the menu that you like, we have vodka/cranberry in the green room because thats what we remember you drinking last year when you were here, we'll have your merch bag sent back to the hotel so you dont have to take it out drinking after the show and the towncar that picked you up will be waiting in the lobby to take you back to the airport in the morning.
I don't get that when I work most places because I am working for myself when I play a rock n roll joint and I'm a cheap fuck to work for. I make the opener sleep on the floor of my room, I sell DVDs and CDs out of the inside of my trenchcoat and pour the spare drinks that you bought me into a milk jug and bring em home with me.
Perhaps I exaggerate. But it aint nearly as they made it in San Jose. The Stress Factory in New Jersey was really cool too... make sure to go to Steakhouse 85 across the street first. I couldn't have felt more VIP if I were having analingus performed on me by talcum-powdered infants as is rumored to close an evening at the Bohemian Grove. Top notch and thanks again.
So I think I'll try to squeeze a few more comedy clubs in the year - here and there - and I'll be definitely moving outta clubs that aren't set up fairly well for comedy. There's have been a few that were really fucked - the Sodo in Seattle was a nightmare asthetically for comedy with too many people too far way without being able to see - I apologize but they were kind enough to take the show late in the game when our planned venue closed down. It's still a great bar to drink and the staff couldn't have been cooler but we'll find something more suited for stand-up next time around.
I read all your emails and occasionally respond or drunk dial which is why there's a space for your number. Sometimes typing is too confusing with the wine and Ambien. A lot of my booking is based on random emails so please send off whatever nonsense you like and keep me abreast of good alternative venues for the declining years of my abusive and reckless career.
I was on the Wikipedia page for Bisbee AZ where I live. Under notable reisdents, I saw the name Don Frye, MMA fighter.
I am a mixed martial arts fan and can't believe boxing is still considered a watchable sport after you've seen the UFC. It makes the best of boxing look like as antiquated and obsolete as the old days of all-white basketball.
So I go to his Wiki page and start reading about him. He's had a pretty respectable career that spans back to the early days of the UFC. I read about noteworthy fights he's been in and that leads me to other fighter's pages and then to his website and then to Youtube watching fights he's had and interviews, commentary he's done.
Just like anything else you find of interest on the internet, I ended up spending two hours of my life learning about all-things Don "The Predator" Frye when I really just clicked the initial link to see if there was a picture, to see if I'd recognized him from either the fights or from seeing him around town.
I didn't recognize him at all but it made me think that it would be funny if I did run into him in this tow of 6000 people one day, now that I am an inadvertant walking encyclopedia of Don Frye knowledge, statistics, fun facts and trivia. I could come off as the ultimate scary stalker-fan.
Bisbee, AZ is small town about 7 miles off the Mexican border and 100 miles to the nearest airport in Tucson. That means it's about 100 miles to the nearest sushi - the best of which is actually inside terminal B of the airport, not 100 yards from the furthest gate.
I am a regular there. It's strange to be a regular at an airport bar much less the four-seat sushi bar at the end of the bar. Hong and Ramon might not know my name but they know my face from frequent visits and over-tipping and I like that. I like being a regular which is hard to come by in this gig. Either I'm on the road or I am home - and when I am home, it's the only place I want to be.
So I am flying to Denver and I am more than an hour early. Ramon is working and that makes me happy because Hong is one of those sushi guys that think that there is a code of conduct, ethics and ettiquette that come with eating raw fish where I just like wasabi and soy sauce. Hong won't give me soy sauce with white tuna because you aren't supposed to eat it with soy sauce for whatever ancient ancestral reason. So I have to order hamachi first to trick him into giving me the soy sauce and then order the white tuna as an afterthought.
Most things I eat, I only eat for the condiments that go well with it. I would never eat a potato if it weren't for all the fantastic things you can put on it in it's many varied forms. Much like fucking is more about a reason to wear a chin-dildo and a frozen Whatchamacallit candy bar in your and their assholes.
Let me get back to the story so you can go buy show tickets and maybe some merch like you came here for to begin with.
I order from Ramon and leave to go get a newspaper across the hall. I come back and Don Frye is sitting right next to me at my 4 seat sushi bar not 24 hours after my half-day Don Frye internet marathon and tutorial, imagining how funny it would be to run into him.
No fucking way.
I stuttered like Porky Pig.
"Hey! Uhhhhhhh.... I was just at your website!" I said like that alone told my whole story.
"We're both listed as 'Notable Residents" of Bisbee." I add.
"No kidding." he says, as though he'd made a very poor decision on where to sit.
I know the feeling all too well of being confronted by someone who recognizes you when it's way too early and you are way too sober to be social, especially when you are in close quarters. And now before I could stop myself, I'm doing it to him.
He looks at a menu and I lose myself in the USA Today wishing I'd never spoken. I can feel the flush of shame rush into my cheeks since I am too sober to talk when I am the one that started it - leaving an ugly awkwardness in the quiet air of an empty late-morning airport bar.
A few beats more.
"So you live in Bisbee?" he says.
"Sorry if I ask the same questions over again. I been hit in the head a lot."
"That's ok. I've been drunk every night for 25 years. It has the same effect without much of the pain."
Well good to hear - I thought I was the only one - can we get two tequilas and two Asahi beers?"
And of course we like to make them a double for two dollars more.
He asked me what my name was and what made me a notable resident of the town he hasnt lived in for 12 years.
"Doug Stanhope? No shit? I listen to you all the time on Sirius radio. You know what? You're a funny sonofabitch."
It was cooler even than when a negro thinks you are funny - which happened to me randomly at the Detroit airport in April - another story altogether.
We drank and I got as drunk as one man can get in 25 minutes - a trend which I carried onto the plane and through the show until whenever I fell down in the hotel, however I got there.
Sorry about that, Denver. It's never good when towards the end of the show you hear someone yelling.. Can you PLEEEEASE try to annunciate your words???" but I know my audience is pretty goddamned forgiving of that kinda behavior - as I am with them.
Don "the Predator" Frye is a gentleman, a great drinker and a funny sonofabitch in his own right and thanks for the drinks and the mathematically obscene long-shot coincidence. To misquote William Peter Blatty's "The Ninth Configuaration" to fit my own agenda - I find coincidence "far more fantastic than simply believing in some God.*
Give a shout next time you're back home in Bisbee. We'll drink again, dear sir.
From "The Ninth Configuration"...
Kane: In order for life to have appeared spontaneously on earth, there first had to be hundreds of millions of protein molecules of the ninth configuration. But given the size of the planet Earth, do you know how long it would have taken for just one of these protein molecules to appear entirely by chance? Roughly ten to the two hundred and forty-third power billions of years. And I find that far, far more fantastic than simply believing in God.
If you can find this movie - get it - ebay or wherever. In my Top favorite 3 movies of all time perhaps.
I'll write more now that I am overwhelmed with all the Facebook, Myspace, Twitter bullshit. I would much prefer you just come here.
I'll list my shit there and use their bulletins,etc but I'll keep all the updates and fucked-up stories on my own fucking site.
All you have to do is put your email in the mailing list and I'll get you word when I'm coming near you on the road.
The live show is all that's important.
Put it on my gravestone -
You Had To Be There.
3/25/1967 - 12/21/2012