Dane Cook is great. If you haven’t heard Harmful if Swallowed, you’ve missed some truly priceless bits. His riff on a masturbating fetus is gold. His Kool Aid Man bit blew me apart. In fact, the whole CD is stacked with love, and I was worried that he’d be too big to deliver a follow-up that matched or eclipsed it. Remember how shitty Eddie Murphy’s Raw was when compared to Delirious? Well, Dane erased any fears with Retaliation, a gigantic comedy epic that assaulted stores this past Tuesday and is waiting for you right now. I had the chance to speak with Dane about the release, his films, and comedy itself. The results of that discussion are a scroll away. Enjoy!
Nick Nunziata: I’d like to begin
this interview with a 72 part question about your work in Simon Sez.
Nick Nunziata: I’ve listened to
the new CD pretty nonstop for the past two days and at first I wasn’t sure if I’d
like it as much as the first one but now it’s not even close. I’m floored by
it. Congrats on making a truly great
Cook: Thanks, man. This whole thing came
after Harmful if Swallowed was so
successful where you think about comedy albums topping each other. Comedy is so
different from rock and roll and the whole idea of being on the charts but for
the last month everybody who had heard the album in editing or whatever started
to buzz “this is better than Harmful,
and I just want to get laughs. I’m just trying to be consistent, but I’m really
proud of it, from the packaging to the CD itself I think it really kicks ass.
Nick Nunziata: It seems like a lot
of people look at their CDs as a means to an end, a necessary evil. When I grew
up, Carlin releases were calendar days to look for. There was a lull, but
thanks to your album and Hedberg and even some of the redneck comedians I don’t
like, it appears things are shifting. You take a lot of pride with your
releases and this one is stacked. How are you able to release stuff like this
with the fans in mind?
Cook: The story with Harmful was that
I was at the Houston Laugh Stop and I knew they had a DAT recorder down there
so I thought “I’ve got a website now, I’ll record the set and see how it comes
together. I did the whole original version of Harmful myself. I packaged it, I did the artwork. It was from me to
whoever ordered it off my website. I’d be filling envelopes myself and then
Comedy Central stepped up. I think I sold like 7,000 of them independently in
six months and they told me about their record division and that they wanted to
distribute my CD. Instead of just keeping it as it was I kept coming up with
concepts. They were “You’re putting a lot of detail in this. It’s not like the
comedy album is what it used to be”. That’s exactly it. No one was making
comedy albums artistic from the artwork to the disc artwork to the special
thanks, but I think if you make the effort people will want to have the album
on their shelves. They told me that they’d be really happy if we sold 30,000
copies and it’s up to 300,000 two years later. With this one it was the same
formula. The whole situation is something that will be crafted. Not to get long
winded, but that was the whole idea. Put something together that you care about
so people don’t think you’re jus tin it to make a few sheckles.
Nick Nunziata: There’s a larger
than life feel to it. Two shows, a DVD, and then there’s that sword. Please
tell me that sword actually exists.
Cook: The sword was manipulated in Photoshop. I had the idea for the cover like
three years ago. Then we did a whole photo shoot with the mic and I told the
guy that I wanted a sword coming out of it. When I first saw the artwork from
the guy who did the sword it was like “boom, that is it”, I want that on the
wall in my office. The mic sword doesn’t exist but I think I may have to make
Nick Nunziata: You were in Torque. You appeared in Torque. One of the best junk food movies
Cook: Absolutely. It’s one of those movies where, even though I’m in it, I’m
like “what the hell is going on?” I have no clue. By the end of it where the
motorcycles are going like 2,000 miles per hour, I’m like, “what? What is this
movie I’m in?”
Nick Nunziata: But the director
was totally in on it. I did a joke review of that film where I called him a
holocaust and he emailed me back thanking me for the review. That makes it so
much more awesome.
Cook: Joseph Kahn. If you’ve seen his music videos, they’re all just so sleek with
pinpoint effects. He definitely knew, at
least when I was on set, that the tongue was going to be very firmly in cheek
with an almost video game like quality to the movie.
Nick Nunziata: When are we going
to be seeing more of you in theaters?
Cook: The plan would be if there’s any rhyme or reason to this whole business,
is that I would love to do what the guys before me have done. I’ve worked with
Jack Black before, with Sandler over the years, doing colleges way back. You
just want to take your audience and parlay it into television or film and I
have a few things coming up. I did a thing with Ryan Reynolds called Waiting
and that’ll get a wide release in September. I’m looking forward to that. I
just did a thing with Jessica Biel. So it’s nice to take a break from the
comedy, which is so hands on. Every inch of it is my mind to the audience’s
ears. When you get to do a movie you get to play a character and it’s a
director’s vision and you’re a tool. I like using that side of my brain and
would love to do some more flicks.
Nick Nunziata: Your style of humor
is so missing in film and it’d be interesting to see how it worked if put into
Cook: Yeah, I love movies like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.
Movies that have heart but are still in-your-face funny and so I certainly
wouldn’t mind doing movies in the vein of Stripes or Caddyshack. It doesn’t
have to be all mine, ensemble pieces, whatever it is. If it’s funny I just want
to get it out there and in front of my fans.
Nick Nunziata: Describe if you
Cook: Tourgasm… Jesus man. I’m
looking at stuff we’ve been editing together and it’s a blur. The plan was to
rent a giant tour bus and take three of my buddies who are also comics, two of
which I’ve known for fifteen years, and I’m going to travel through the month
of April and do twenty University shows in thirty days. Start in LA and go
cross country and wherever else we can go. We ended up hitting thirty states in
thirty days. It was massive. You’ve seen the teaser?
Nick Nunziata: Yep.
Cook: Putting that together and having to watch so many scenes of it just to
try to take clips, it really is unlike anything I’ve done before. It came out
so much different than what I thought it would be both on a comedic level and a
documentary level. Living with these other guys on this bus for the entire
thirty day run and pretty much having cameras on us the whole time, we had
three HD cameras in our face and one
lipstick camera on the bus recording everything we were saying. I didn’t really
know what I was stepping into. I knew I wanted to do a documentary and capture
this road trip but you just have to see it to believe what goes down with four
comics when they are in a small space for that entire time. I hope I can put it
together and do it justice. What it felt like when we were there. We have
almost 450 hours of footage and we’re just going to try and figure it out and
tell the story.
Nick Nunziata: What will be its
Cook: If I had my druthers, I’d like to put it together as a ten hour
documentary. I’ve talked to some people about doing it as a one hour miniseries
week to week with ten episodes of the show because there’s so much stuff. If it
doesn’t land on TV or if no one is interested in showing it that way it’ll be a
documentary that is five to ten discs. It’ll literally be a comedy opus because
I can’t fit it into an hour and a half movie. I mean I could, but it’d be
impossible to cut it down to a regular hour and a half. There are so many
things that happened. It wouldn’t do it justice. It’s one of the blessings and
problems of it, keeping it short enough but showing everything. I guess you’ll know when we know.
Nick Nunziata: It looks insane.
When you showed up with the trash can filled with your shit I knew I wasn’t in
Cook: We had a rule on the bus, a no shit rule. The bus driver Brian said it
day one, “Here’s the deal, I’ve driven this bus with Usher and Britney Spears,
you name it, they’ve been on this very bus. You can’t shit on the bus”. I’m
like “what do we do?”. He said “you let me know, come up to the front and I’ll
pull over at the next stop or whatever”. I’m like “Brian, we’re guys. Sometimes
you wake up in the middle of the night and you have to fucking drop a five”. He
says “You shit in a bucket, wrap it up and we’ll toss it”. It’s hilarious.
Sometimes you’d have to take your trash bucket and go to the bathroom, dude.
You’d have to balance yourself because the bus was moving. Not only did I have
to crap in a bucket and stick it in Bobby’s face… well I didn’t have to stick
it in Robert’s face but you get a little stir crazy on the bus. I got locked in
my room one night at the very back of the bus and they had a sliding door with
a latch lock. The bus would get so dry that I had to buy a humidifier. So I get
up at two in the morning to take a whiz and for some reason my door wouldn’t
open. It was jammed. For two hours I really have to take a whiz really bad. Nobody
can hear me because the bus is moving. I’m banging on the door going “guys,
wake up!” I finally had to piss in my humidifier. Of course, the moment the
door opens the cameraman from the other bus jumps onto our bus because they had
walkie-talkies and they knew what was going on. When the door opened they asked
me what I had to do and I’m screaming “I had to piss in my humidifier, I gotta
get out of here!”. Tourgasm was
a stadium for their sporting evens, like 10,000 people. They had to put it on
the Jumbotron on all four sides and I was onstage looking at myself and the
other guys. It was epic. I hope people get to see it really soon.
Nick Nunziata: Well the way people
are receptive to the Project Greenlight
stuff and the Kings of Comedy and Blue Collar stuff, I think you’ll have a
home and people will want to see it for nothing else, the first humidifier
Cook: At the very least even if I’m just cutting it up and streaming it on my
website, it will get out there in one way or another. It’ll definitely come
alive some day.
Nick Nunziata: You’ve done bits mentioning
the Kool Aid Man, Tekken, and Castle Greyskull. Stuff from our childhood that
sort of defines our generation. Do you pride yourself on reminding people of
all that fun shit?
Cook: Talking from a comedic side, those are the things that make me laugh. I’ve
always wanted to talk about things and bring stuff onstage that tickles me.
When I first started in comedy one of the old time guys in
comics, Dane. There’s the kind that thinks of funny things and thinks to
themselves ‘Oh that’ll make a crowd laugh, that’ll be funny’. That’s like a
novelty act. You’ll get your laughs but they’ll dissipate. They’ll laugh and go
home. That’s one kind of comic. The other kind says ‘what’s funny to me and how
can I bring them to me?’ That made a real impact. That was thirteen years ago.
I started flipping in things that me and my friends would say to help a story
or get a laugh and it stuck. Any time I can throw something like that which
people can relate to or whatever it is, it helps me paint the picture.
Nick Nunziata: That Tom Cruise bit
earned you a bunch of new fans.
Cook: Dude that was funny. I was watching Oprah
on Monday and instantly knew that since I was doing Kimmel that week I knew
I was all over it. I knew I could capture that energy he was dispelling.
Nick Nunziata: The one thing I
learned from this new CD was how the audio Dane Cook show and the live Dane
Cook show are almost like two different animals. I don’t know how you did it,
but the same jokes are funny in different ways depending on how you experience
Cook: It’s really funny that you brought that up because I was talking about
that with someone last night. A joke is never done to me. It’s never completed.
When I did Harmful if Swallowed, that
was just one set that I burned on to a disc and put out. A lot of that material
was improvised that night, elements I’d never said before, one’s I’d never say
again. When the CD got hot, I had to listen to it before shows to know what I
was saying. I like to keep shows improvisational, fresh. When I approach a CD I
really like to use language and paint a verbal picture that will be slightly
different than when you see a live show. I’m the first to admit, I’m not trying
to be consistent to both. I want to be able to give you something you can
listen to in your car that paints the picture that you’re just fucking laughing
at and then if you see the show you’re like “Dude, you added three minutes to
that bit, that’s not on the CD”. I feel like the material is never done. When you
hear something, it’ll be different than on the CD but in the moment and
something the audience is feeling right now. When you go see a band you don’t
want to just see the set list, you hope they’re going to do something crazy.
That’s what I try to capture with Retaliation.
Those two shows, those two hours, it’ll never be like that again.