I’m awesome. I wrote a book. It’s got little to do with movies. Download and read “Thank You, Goodnight” right HERE for free.
How do you like your romantic comedies?
Me, the less I have to think and/or engage the better. What made GOOD LUCK CHUCK a solid entry into the genre was that it knew what it was and didn’t over-extend its grasp. It was a breezy film that brought together two notables in pop culture, Dane Cook and Jessica Alba, and smooshed them into an Oreo of gooey love.
Love it or leave it the movie did well enough in its theatrical run and it went on to do well in the international market. When the movie was released on DVD mere weeks ago I had the chance to talk to Dane Cook about everything you wish you could ask him regarding his swift rise to pop consciousness and all the slagging that goes along with being such a high profile target for people like Saturday Night Live during the World Series and the video, Dane Cooks, which showcase why this is best form of flattery for a man who has taken stand-up comedy from the peripheral of society to the mainstream with his best selling CD, television show and concert specials.
If I could pay Dane the best compliment I can it would be that his honesty during this brief, brief interview just cemented my respect for one of the prolific comics in the business today.
*****For those who would like to win a copy of the DVD to taste the GOOD LUCK CHUCK goodness just leave a message below. It can’t get any easier than this…*****
CHRISTOPHER STIPP: Hey Dane, quick question regarding your comedic performance in GOOD LUCK CHUCK – Did this experience teach you anything at all about how to translate what people love most about your live shows as to what they should be able to appreciate about your film work? Has it changed your philosophy about how to approach romantic comedy or comedy in general?
DANE COOK: Yes, very much so. I definitely feel like, the term, within your wheelhouse, in figuring out how – I love guys like Steve Martin, THE JERK, or when Sandler did WATERBOY – we can look at so many comedians and ask what role finally put their pin on the map. I don’t know up until GOOD LUCK CHUCK if I found that fit – the physicality and language. So when I signed on for GOOD LUCK CHUCK I got to explore a lot of broad comedy – physical comedy, slapstick, to bring all the elements of stand up comedy performance together that’s very difficult to do. I don’t think I have done that yet. I don’t think I’ve had that role quite yet that perfectly combines many of the elements I’ve done on stage. I’ll continue to seek that out. It’s great to pick and choose and incorporate bits and pieces.
CS: I am curious as to get your thoughts on the cult of celebrity after doing some high profile projects like EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH and GOOD LUCK CHUCK, having the media surrounding you and your relationships and parodies of you like Dane Cooks. How do you feel about what celebrity does to a person – what a big spotlight can do to you – to a person?
COOK: This question is difficult to answer in one felt swoop because celebrity is tricky man. I’ve seen everything happen to people. I’m a person who sticks close to – I’ve had the same friends for 20 years, I have a big family – I have 5 sisters and a brother in my family. I’m pretty quiet away from performing. I love to create and when I go home I love to just be in the real world.
The celebrity thing is so foolish, so bizarre the way the laser once in a while hits a person and just evaporates them. You see it all the time. These people start to believe the stuff that’s written about them or even become what the media wants you to become. It’s ping-pong. I never had a career that was so instant success-wise that it was like overnight sensation. Although people might say he came from out of no where but for a long time I had a slow steady trajectory and I got to kind of step around some of that.
But to be in a position now where sometimes people take shots it’s always cool to have an SNL or somebody want to send you up but I think when you start becoming a parody of yourself, that’s when things start to spiral out of control. I know my answer is a mess and all over the place but I try to stick around people who are into the create and not the drama because it’s so easy to participate in that and then suddenly you are caught up in lies and crap.
So, yeah, I stay close to home and I don’t want to end up being one of those people sitting on the side of it after the machine chews you up and spits you out. Here’s one thing about the machine that I, and again different for everybody, different answers, you do have control of the machine, you do have your hand on a button or a lever. You can control the speed. There is no one in this industry that can’t, unless they have really crazy people around them, you can be like, “Hey, I think I’m going to hop on a plane and leave for a minute.”
Anyone that stays in it I question that sometimes.
You have the ability to say “You know what, I think I’ll take a break” or go to Europe…you don’t have to stay in this bizarre oasis. It’s like if I start feeling weird I go back to Boston, hang out with people who don’t give a crap about Hollywood, I take out the trash, I eat at the old stomping ground. I feel like a regular guy again.
So, good luck with how you handle editing that one!
There will be a lot of parenthesis in that like (Dean gets very serious). Quite a hypothesis on that answer…sorry about that.
CS: Quick question about your comedy as a whole. You said you were taking a break – you’re taking a step back, when you do take a break between these sorts of projects and what have you, does it change your overall spin on how you want to change the way you do your comedy when you do come back, or for lack of a better term, do you have a formula regardless of how long or how much you do touring or stand up?
COOK: You are asking a fantastic question because these are things I am exploring in myself. To be really honest, I don’t even really know what a break is.
I love working.
I find that some people say you should take a break and I say I kinda am but I’m still working. I love being on stage and yet after doing it straight through for so many years – I’ve done stand up for so many years every night didn’t take a night off unless it was a holiday or I was sick, and then finally to have “boom” kind of broken through it was like, this is my time, I don’t know how long it’s going to last “Can I turn this into a full career?” so I spent three years making movies and still making the families happy so I’m actually at the point right now where stepping back on stage regardless of the 7 hour set I did just a little while ago.
I finished this big tour, I put out my latest CD and now I’m in a period where I’m kind of reinventing the wheel. I’m going back…some of the new stuff I have is sort of a departure…I’ve always looked at my comedy in general and it should be an evolution – that you are never done, so I’m at a point right now that it’s fun to be a little scared of stand up. I hit the reset button. I’m not doing anything old. I’m working on all new ideas. So having stepped away from comedy in that sense doing films I’m bring a new life perspective back. It’ll be interesting here as I’m piecing it together I could probably speak to you more at the end of this year. Right now I’m fitting in with your question in figuring out what is it that I want to say now and how do I want to entertain people in the world of comedy.
CS: Dane, if I could close with the final question – I’m paraphrasing but Chris Rock said there’s the Stand Up Comedian’s Success Kit. Included in the kit is a movie, a book, a television show, now while you’ve said you’ve done pilots of a television show do you think that you will write a book? Do you think you will find success in a television show or do you think you’ve honed your craft well enough where you don’t have to spread your brand of comedy over different forms of media?
COOK: I think this is a time for me – I just want to - like Steve Martin’s book, for example – he’s a guy I really wanted to emulate in certain areas of my career. I’ve achieved this year everything I set out to do in my life that I said I wanted to do. I wanted to make movies, I dreamed about doing an arena tour when I was very young – I saw Steve Martin at Madison Square Garden and I had the “Wild and Crazy Guy” album, which I still have and am staring at the original album which I still have in my office right here.
So this year I finally, after many many years, have completed everything I set out to do. And I’ve done a couple movies that have been successful on different levels so now I’m really in a metamorphis now. I have another movie coming out this year with Kate Hudson. I’m really proud of it it’s a greater step in a direction of what I want to do and how I want to do my comedy in film. But I’m really interested in telling all kinds of stories.
So I think yes, you are right, there’s the book, the TV show, the movies, and certainly seems to be the path that has been laid for the successful comic. I’m leaving that path now. I’ve traveled that path, I’ve had different levels from marginal to great successes and now I’m daring myself to do more. Go see me on stage and after this rest I’ll get into the new evolution of my stand up, but I’ve got some irons in the fire that are quite different – a couple documentaries that are far from anything comedic and producing. I look at fine young talent and try to nurture this young talent. I’m going to dare myself to get off that path and take some risks that are outside the traditional kit that comes with comedy. So, we’ll go with that and see what comes next.
CS: Brillant – thanks so much Dane.
COOK: No worries – you got it!
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