Dane Cook appeared live at the Key Arena in Seattle last Thursday, and my hopes were too high to be anything but disappointed. First of all, he’s in the top-5 stand-up comics of our time. Secondly, I’ve already seen everything he’s done (except for the current “Rough Around the Edges” tour), and thirdly because crowds on Thursdays are notoriously scant, and have terrible energy. Dane proved me wrong, and I’m thankful for it.
As I saw in his acclaimed “Tourgasm” reality series on HBO, he often works with one or more opening comics. I wasn’t too thrilled about the idea, since I pretty much hate stand up comedy, and I’ve seen the jokers like Jay who open for him, and I hold a special disdain for their particular flavors of hackery. The show started late, but there was no opening act, it was all Dane, all the time, and he ran that show to full length by himself.
I was further concerned when a “wave” was started through the crowd prior to show time, and it took a good 26-rounds through the stadium to build even modest cooperation. Oh Thursdays, when will you ever be naught but Lady’s Night? The crowd also tried chanting “Dane, Dane, Dane!” but grew tired within a few dozen and went back about people watching. Could this be a bad sign?
Turns out it wasn’t.
The crowd was comprised of far more hot, young, naturally good looking people than I expected, each of whom made the man in me feel old, and the quiet, demure inner woman in me scream “slut!” Luckily, I didn’t have to let that inner bitch out, since Dane pointed it out himself halfway through the show.
But that’s a matter for later in the review.
When Dane hit the stage, and he did hit it hard, he brought the energy I’ve only seen on television. He asked about the wave we (poorly) did and led a few rounds himself, which were enthusiastic and fevered to say the least. Dane whipped this crowd into a frenzy within seconds of putting his first sneaker on stage, and it’s not just the collective roar of 17,000 that did it, he actually delivered what we expected.
Once I was convinced he would be on his game and competently deliver the expected material, I feared it would be a Jim Gaffigan style regurgitation of the same old jokes that I’ve heard on past shows, but the material was 90% new and 10% greatest hits of an 18-year career in comedy.
And for the uninitiated, it was easy to tell the new from the classic. When he said that he went in to a shoe store and asked if they had his favorite boot in a size-12, the crowd let loose with a din of applause so loud Dane had to pause for it to die down before continuing the bit. What can I say, the story about the bone saw and the time machine ending with Lee jeans is just that good. I’ve heard it at least a half dozen times on past recordings and I still chuckled my knuckles off, because he’s Dane Cook, that’s his joke, and it’s simply that good, but better because it’s live.
The new material, which was the majority of the show, was exceptional, as it always is with him. He played off the crowd, kept his theater-in-the-round presentation animated enough to keep all 360-degrees feel center stage, and he even went so far as to address the artistic liberties he took with some of his jokes.
See, sometimes you have a real story in mind, but it won’t translate to a presentable joke unless you change a critical fact or two. He could have done that and simply lied about it, but instead he pointed out where he made the lies for comedic effect, and made even better jokes off those.
“My dad heard me telling that joke about him in World War II in a comedy special last year and he asked me, ‘Dane, why [are] you telling people I was in World War II? What was I, six years old?'”
From there the door is open to a whole new line of insulting affront, and at least half of it was a smile, with the rest being outright laughable.
Since I was technically there on assignment, I kept an eye on the event staff. One of the roving camera guys could not contain himself throughout much of the show, laughing so visibly his camera feed must have been un-usably shaky. There was a security guy right in front of me who refused to crack so much as the first ounce of grin in the first half-hour that I was sure he had no soul, but before you knew it he was caught up in it as well, and it’s a good thing since Dane rubbed off his imaginary man-shaft on the back of this guy’s head, and to tremendous effect at that.
Check out DaneCook.com to see if the tour still has dates coming to your town, and if he does, don’t go for the cheap seats; front the real money to get close, because the Jumbo-Tron is well and good, but the real deal is better.