Why Dane Cook Turned Down SNL and Made Up With Louis C.K.

Did present enterprise stroll away from Dane Cook, or was it the opposite method round?

That’s simply one of many many questions we attempt to unravel on this week’s episode of The Last Laugh podcast.

By age 35, Cook dinner turned the second slapstick comedian to ever promote out Madison Sq. Backyard—following his religious predecessor Andrew Cube Clay. Like that larger-than-life ’80s icon, there’s actual pathos and ache beneath the floor of an intense on-stage persona that has been identified to rub quite a lot of comedians and comedy followers alike the unsuitable method. However there have additionally been a ton of guffaws.

From the second he began blowing up on the college circuit, enormous alternatives began coming Cook dinner’s method, together with an opportunity to successfully change Adam Sandler on Saturday Evening Dwell after his unceremonious firing within the mid-’90s. On the flip facet of his recognition peak had been comeback makes an attempt just like the unaired NBC sitcom Subsequent Caller from You’re the Worst creator Stephen Falk and a high-profile cameo as himself on Louie during which he tried to place their joke-stealing beef “to mattress.”

Via all of it, Cook dinner—who is about to tape his first stand-up particular in over a decade this month on the Wang Theatre in Boston—has remained unflappably true to himself, shutting out the haters and forcing himself to search out humor in more and more darkish locations.

Under is an edited excerpt from our dialog and you may hearken to the entire thing—together with tales about his early days enjoying schools round Boston and his newest comeback try—proper now by subscribing to The Last Laugh on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Amazon Music, or wherever you get your podcasts and be the primary to listen to new episodes when they’re launched each Tuesday.

Did you audition for SNL? Or did they give you a spot within the forged? What precisely occurred there?

So Saturday Evening Dwell was scouting for a few new forged members, however I knew that after [Adam] Sandler left, they particularly needed somebody younger, white, energetic. And I performed guitar. And so they referred to as me up, with my supervisor, they usually had been like, “We love you. We expect you convey the correct—faculty, the entire thing, simply the correct package deal.” And so all I needed to do was go in entrance of Lorne Michaels. I truly did some impersonations. I by no means did them on stage, however I might form of get individuals down.

Who did you do? Do you bear in mind?

Who did I do? I did Christian Slater. I feel I slicked my hair again, form of held my eyebrows up. However actually greater than something, it was simply the vitality and that unbridled factor that I delivered to the stage. Effectively, I had an enormous, enormous breakdown exterior of Rockefeller Plaza. And I sat on a bench. I couldn’t breathe. I’ve solely had in my life, happily, a couple of actually dangerous, catatonic state-level panic assaults—incapacitated—and this was nearly there sitting on that bench. The explanation I couldn’t do it’s as a result of I knew I’d get it. I knew what they had been telling me. And I felt like I’d be nice so long as there wasn’t what I additionally understood, which was the politics of working there. And I had a few buddies that had been on the present, so I knew it might be cutthroat. I used to be not a confrontational particular person. I used to be not an individual who might combat for my opinion. I used to be actually scared rather a lot. And I used to be like, I’m not prepared for that. I can’t try this. I can’t combat. And I referred to as my supervisor and stated, “I’m not entering into.” And man, I upset lots of people that day. I actually upset myself. After which there have been quite a lot of years on the highway once I’d see [Jimmy] Fallon. As a result of Fallon obtained it.

Yeah, he form of turned the Sandler alternative?

He did. And I assumed clearly he shined and he was great. And so there was no doubting it. I knew Jimmy slightly bit from gigs. So there was slightly a part of me that was blissful that he appeared blissful and he’s nice, but additionally slightly a part of me, that’s like, “Ooh, I don’t have to try this. He can do it.”

No regrets about turning down that vast alternative?

No, no, none in any way. And once I lastly got here again to host the present [in 2005]—and by the way in which, I went exterior earlier than and I sat on that very same bench that I cried at and felt like I failed and advised myself, no, that was the start of your success proper in that second. And I attempt, because the outdated bull, to mentor younger individuals. I say, don’t really feel so dangerous about these moments the place all the pieces’s falling aside. Generally that simply means you’re acknowledging who you might be and getting ready your self for one thing later.

Dane Cook dinner performs on the Home of Blues contained in the Mandalay Bay Resort & On line casino July 2, 2005, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ethan Miller/Getty

So we’ve been speaking about the entire highs of your profession and clearly there have been many extra to come back after that, whether or not it’s enjoying Madison Sq. Backyard or anything. However there was additionally a turning level when alternatives began to go away. Did you are feeling that? And the way did you deal with the flip facet of your large skyrocket to fame?

Yeah, it’s humorous as a result of I used to be strolling away from alternatives greater than alternatives had been going away. And I feel it was as a result of I acknowledged that I’d hit this higher echelon of stand-up comedy. I took comedy to in all places I dreamed of taking it. There wasn’t a spot left that I needed to convey stand-up comedy. And so there was a interval the place, after you play all these exhibits to large, large crowds, you then say, now I’m able to take these followers and inform new tales in new and fascinating methods. However the kicker is: the business doesn’t need you to try this. The business needs you to play the identical word. And so that you’d get quite a lot of scripts that begin to really feel fairly spinoff. And I used to be not content material to try this.

So I suppose the lean years, supposedly, had been in spite of everything these enviornment exhibits and people huge, large exhibits. However from the place I used to be sitting, it was actually like, I’ve misplaced my dad and mom, I’d had this entire horrible incident with my brother the place I needed to put my brother—my brother went to jail for theft. And it was actually me, each having fun with some life after 20 straight years of road-dogging it and taking it to the best heights to then doing two issues that had been most likely extra vital, which was caring for my well being and wellness and permitting myself to start out developing with a brand new sport plan and the place I needed to take my followers subsequent. So whereas I acknowledge that, sure, the narrative modified, when that shifted, I used to be OK with that. I used to be like, excellent, as a result of I’m prepared to vary it as properly. So let’s try this collectively.

I’m a stand-up comedian, man. If you happen to’re asking me to return and look all through my entire historical past, I’m positive there’s quite a lot of stuff that we might delve into and say, ‘Oh, that’s embarrassing.’

Then I really feel like there’s been quite a lot of “comeback” narratives through the years, which lots of people take care of. And considered one of them was this present Subsequent Caller, which was a sitcom that you simply had been going to do on NBC. And I used to be actually curious what occurred with that, as a result of it appeared prefer it was an ideal mixture of things and that you simply truly shot a bunch of it, however then it by no means aired.

Effectively, we obtained canceled earlier than we even had an opportunity to undergo a pilot season. We did 4 episodes and we simply obtained a telephone name sooner or later that stated, that’s it, manufacturing’s shut down. And to this present day, we by no means obtained a response to it. And, you realize, at that time, there was no complaining. I bear in mind I had come dwelling for a weekend from New York the place we had been capturing. And I introduced all my stuff, I introduced all my baggage. I don’t know why, as a result of I used to be residing in New York, however I introduced all the pieces after which I obtained a name they usually stated, yeah, it’s carried out. And I used to be like, “Oh, that’s bizarre, I had a bizarre feeling this weekend and I introduced all my stuff.” However that’s simply the way in which this enterprise goes. There’s lots of people making choices past your hopes. And that was it.

I feel it was round that very same time that you simply appeared as your self on Louie, which was a giant second as properly. How did that come about?

On the time Louis and I had been so bored with that narrative. [For years, Cook had been accused of stealing Louis C.K.’s joke premises.] It was so outdated hat and it was fairly boring and I do know he was as bored with getting requested about it as I used to be. And so when he referred to as me up and stated, “Hey, do you need to put this to mattress in an episode of the present?” I used to be like, “Oh my goodness, sure.” As a result of I don’t assume I’d had something in my life at that time, which was each infrequently it’s like a needle skip on an outdated vinyl. It’s similar to I’m transferring on and we’re all prepared to speak about one thing else. However there was, I suppose, an infatuation with the web at the moment of individuals battling one another, or having a distinction of opinion. But it surely had grown into this factor the place we needed to take again the story. I feel that for what it was, it was one of the compelling moments in tv I feel in a number of years. It was fairly wild.

Yeah, I imply, it’s fascinating since you had been form of coming collectively to place it to mattress, however you had been doing it on his turf. As a result of it’s his present. And I noticed someplace you stated you perhaps would have needed to tweak some issues within the script?

I obtained two of my tweaks in there as a result of once more, I knew it was Louis’ perspective. And I did say to him at one level, “You already know, you’re projecting a few of these ideas onto me.” However I bear in mind, I stated one thing like, “It doesn’t matter what’s on the web page. It’s all gonna be within the eyes anyway.” However the two notes that I had had been, within the script he had me backstage at a comedy membership and I feel the unique script had my identify as “Kane Dook.” And I used to be like, “Louis, if we’re going to do that, I’ll be me and also you be you.” After which I stated, “You’ve obtained to place me in an enviornment, as a result of individuals know me proper now as the sector man.” And he was like, “No, no, it’s going to be at a comedy membership.” And he referred to as me in my resort a day later and he’s like, “Yeah, you realize what? I modified it. You’re proper.” I feel he needed that inexperienced room thought at first. I understood it, however I nonetheless was like, if we’re gonna put us each in an uncomfortable state of affairs, try to be uncomfortable strolling into my enviornment and I must be uncomfortable as a result of it’s your present.

It offers it slightly extra equality.

Yeah. However that period, man, I look again at the moment of my life, it was like a turnstile second in my life for plenty of causes. However I do bear in mind after that was form of put to mattress, I did a particular referred to as ISolated INcident and I referred to as it that as a result of I felt like this second in my life is an remoted incident. After which after that, it was virtually like a brand new season. It was good to lastly try this. I’m very happy with it and glad that we did it, nevertheless it was good to maneuver away from that.

Yeah. I feel it did form of obtained opened up slightly bit once more when all the pieces occurred with Louis and the #MeToo stuff. What was that like for you? Since you had been form of framed because the villain of that story on his present after which he turned a comedy villain in a bigger sense. So how did you react to that entire factor?

I simply bear in mind feeling like there’s nothing good popping out of this second proper now. For me, perhaps at that time in my life I’d had sufficient remedy that it was like, that’s not my expertise to grasp first-hand, as a result of I wasn’t there on both facet of it. I feel that folks anticipated [me to have a reaction], as a result of I had a second with Louis, nevertheless it’s not similar to no matter else that was. That has nothing to do with two comics arguing over a bit. So, how I felt about it was, I didn’t actually really feel something both method for it. Someone requested me, did I be ok with it? I stated, no, in no way. Particularly since I had a camaraderie at that time with Louis and a friendship. We’d shared house in spite of everything that different stuff was put to relaxation. So yeah, it didn’t make me really feel excellent in any regard.

I feel that folks anticipated [me to have a reaction], as a result of I had a second with Louis, nevertheless it’s not similar to no matter else that was. That has nothing to do with two comics arguing over a bit.

I’m curious, too, what you realized from your individual early “cancel tradition” second. I’m considering of the Aurora shooting joke, which was one other unlucky low level. What did you are taking out of that have?

Effectively, I used to be filmed with out my data at a comedy membership per week after [the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting]. So I felt like any person had snuck into my dwelling and recorded one thing privately and shared it. I didn’t assume it was anyone’s enterprise apart from the gang that was there that understood—and individuals who know me know that I’m not nefarious and there’s not a malicious bone in my physique. So I don’t know, the way you interpreted it most likely means extra to you than the sensation I felt when any person had secretly taken my efficiency and tried to weaponize it and damage me with it. It was very bizarre.

In a bigger sense, how do you are feeling such as you’ve seen the tradition round comedy change within the a long time because you began?

In each single decade that I’ve been doing it there’s at all times been the last decade earlier than saying, “You may’t say that” and “Why would you try this?” I feel that it’s extra turbulent as a result of we stay within the web occasions and we’re fast to leap on, pig-pile after which we’re fast to click on onto one thing else. It’s like one thing shiny is over there now, one thing worse is occurring. “Overlook this, let’s take a look at that!” So I’ve been doing it lengthy sufficient to know that you simply don’t actually pay any consideration to that stuff. It’s actually meaningless. It solely means one thing to the those who have to really feel embroiled in controversy. So with “cancel tradition,” I inform comics now, what you really want to give attention to doing, greater than anything, is being true to who you might be and inform tales that you simply’ve skilled and observe and report from the place you sit. As a result of in case you’re coming from the reality, individuals can’t fuck with that. If you happen to’re making an attempt to place your self in any person’s footwear and you then’re staggering towards an ill-advised story, you then’re going to be in bother. And that’s the actuality of the world we stay in right this moment. So, I feel it’s incumbent upon artists to be truth-tellers, however inform your fact.


Dane Cook dinner performs onstage throughout The Chortle Manufacturing unit Hosts Grand Reopening Evening at The Chortle Manufacturing unit on Might 06, 2021, in West Hollywood, California.

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty

Do you remorse apologizing in any method for it? As a result of whether it is one thing that was simply form of taken out of context otherwise you needed to be there…

I don’t actually know tips on how to reply that query besides to say, each single performer, each single individual that’s ever been on the market in entrance of a digital camera, in entrance of a mic, within the public eye, goes to have stated or carried out one thing that they most likely look again and say, “That was uncouth, that was off-kilter, that received’t age properly.” I’m a stand-up comedian, man. If you happen to’re asking me to return and look all through my entire historical past, I’m positive there’s quite a lot of stuff that we might delve into and say, “Oh, that’s embarrassing.” The identical method I take a look at outdated haircuts and denims, I might take a look at items of fabric and go, look, that is the place I made a misstep. So whenever you fuck up, in case you simply put your self in a darkish room and beat your self up endlessly, then that’s your story. However in case you can develop from it and impart and create from it, then I feel it virtually makes the second extra crucial that it occurred within the first place.

Yeah. I imply, the worst factor about “cancel tradition” is that it prevents individuals from altering and rising and studying from issues and mainly says, you made this error, due to this fact that’s it for you.

Proper. And hear, I’ve seen quite a lot of comics undergo it even earlier of their profession. We would like our comedians to be going into the darkish corners and coming again and observing. But when we’re not permitting them to determine tips on how to discover that second and we’re canceling them earlier than they even actually uncover it, then it’s such a disservice to the laughs all of us want down the road when it’s time to lastly heal by way of humor.

Did it make you alter your method in any respect, understanding that it’s virtually unattainable to cease cameras from being in quite a lot of these rooms?

No. What it made me do is understand I at all times have to come back from a truthful place and I’ve to speak about issues from the deepest a part of my intestine, how I see the world and the way I consider or interpret issues. And in case you try this, I actually consider that even when any person goes, that’s not my factor, then at the least they know, or they sense you’re coming from a spot of fact. That’s the one factor that we will do as we’re growing as performers, is attempt to convey it again to one thing that exhibits individuals, I lived this story, I’m within the story, this story impacts me. And I feel that’s what makes good comics nice comics.

Subsequent week on The Last Laugh podcast: Oscar-nominated Borat Subsequent Moviefilm author and host of the brand new true crime comedy sequence Indefensible Jena Friedman.

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