Dane Cook's high-octane delivery and guy-next-door charm has made him one of the hottest stand-up comics today. His rise to the top got a big boost from the Internet after Dane spent his life savings on an interactive website. That online buzz eventually earned him 2.4 million MySpace fans!
Named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in 2006, Dane is currently on a sold-out stand-up tour. His second album, Retaliation, was Billboard's highest-ranking comedy CD in more than 30 years. When he's not making people laugh in venues like Madison Square Garden, he appears on the silver screen alongside stars like Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson and Steve Carell.
Though he can sell out Madison Square Garden now, Dane says he didn't always play large venues. "Early on, not so epic," he says.
One of the first large venues Dane played was Boston Garden—which holds 15,000 people. Dane says he was performing during a music festival when he saw the audience start to turn. Next thing he knew, they were pelting him with lighters! "Thousands of lighters," he says.
Then the crowd started throwing shoes! "I actually had an epiphany in that moment," he says. "I was standing there going: 'I understand the lighters. Who throws their shoes? Did they bring extra shoes to throw?'"
Though he's been in the business for about 20 years, Dane says starting out was tough. "When you're a new comic coming up especially, there's a lot of bombing," he says.
Once, Dane says he had a tough set at Café Wha?, a New York City club where greats like Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor used to play. "I'm sweating like Shaq at the foul line, and suddenly you can hear a gentleman in the bathroom getting physically sick and the whole crowd is, like, turning and watching, you know, the door," he says.
"He finally walks out of the bathroom and it's dead quiet, and I said, 'You all right in there?' And he said, 'Yeah, I got ahold of some bad comedy.'"
Now, Dane's grateful for where he is in his career. "Fortunate for me, the fan base grew and grew, and more people wanted to come out and do shows," he says.
In 2002, Dane took his entire life savings and built an interactive website to help him reach out to his fans. "I wanted a real dynamic site that I thought my fans would enjoy where they could download clips," he says. "Having seen the success now and having 2.5 million friends on MySpace, all I'm asking is that everybody send a dollar back to me so I can recoup some of that cash, please."
Dane says inspiration for his material can be pretty random. "I absorb things happening around me," he says.
For example, Dane says he was at a restaurant and wanted to order a turkey club with only lettuce, mayonnaise and cheese. When Dane says he started to order, the waitress stopped him. "She goes, 'Excuse me, why don't you just tell me what you don't want on it?'"
Dane says he started wondering what it would be like if all customer service revolved around the things you don't want. "Yes, could I get a coach-class ticket for the flight?" he jokes. "I don't want fire on the flight. I don't want dogs running around nipping at people. I don't want a surly character complaining about a dog that's not my dog in an angry fashion."
In 2007, People magazine named Dane one of its hottest bachelors. "I sent a copy to every girl that ever broke up with me," he jokes. "What's up, sucker?"
Now, Dane says he's dating a great girl. "She's incredible," he says. "Good person in my life."