Dane Cook – Isolated Incident

Dane Cook really gets a whole lot of attention. At first, it was overwhelmingly positive, but as he started filling arenas and starring in feature films, he triggered a backlash worse than any I have ever seen. Without any one big scandal, public opinion seemed to just kind of devour him over time.

There is the issue of stealing jokes and whether or not this occurred. Sure, there is “parallel thinking”. Especially with news stories, many writers and comedians will have a similar take on a similar idea. There are three Louis CK bits in particular that circulate around the internet with the three “matching” Dane clips attached to them. I think those at the very least show that Dane had some influence from (the amazing) Louis CK. People will keep going back and forth on this one, but that’s where I am on it.

This isn’t going to be a review, really… just sort of my thoughts and a quick personal reaction. Let’s talk about Dane’s latest special: Isolated Incident. It is the best he has done. By far.


Dane seems to have tried to get back to his roots with this new set by performing a very different kind of material in front of a much smaller group of people than usual. The material is stronger all around. Perhaps all the bashing and criticism made Dane aware of some aspects of his own style and his crutches that he now makes a point to avoid, but the delivery feels sharper and more direct. He spends way less time going off on tangents and making little side jokes in the middle of long form stories.

There’s a new EDGE to what he does too… which is already enough to get me interested. Once again, this seems to be a step away from the big and famous PG13 rated super star that he was trying to be before. There are jokes about suicide and some other dark material, but the really good stuff is when he brings in stuff from his life, such as the death of his parents, and is able to spin it into some pretty good and original material.

Rather than going into hiding or ignoring the shouts of the haters, he spends some time in this particular special to address them. This is a genius move. It isn’t some Carlos Mencia “mreh they’re just jealous” type material, it’s about the real impact that the internet communities and comedy rings have had on him. He doesn’t boo hoo about it, he pummels himself a fair bit, and then turns it around into another piece of very personal material.

That’s what this special is. Personal. He does spend some time treading into some pretty typical comic territory, spending a little bit of time talking about Obama and a little bit of time on relationship stuff, but it all comes off as “new Dane” type stuff, if that makes sense. Judging and critiquing comedy is a very difficult thing. If you deconstruct it too much or overthink it, you miss the point. It’s also way more subjective than many art forms.

That being said, I enjoyed Isolated Incident. It’s a really fresh and ballsy special that really won’t appeal to everyone, probably not even to all of Dane’s fans. It will probably turn some haters around, but it will bolster some of them even more. I really hope we’ll see more of this type of stuff from Dane from now on. If you’re a fan, check it out. Even if you hate Dane Cook with a violent passion, check it out.

You know you will.


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May 2009
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