Home #Hwoodtimes Dane Cook Wins Over the Crowd in Hollywood

Dane Cook Wins Over the Crowd in Hollywood

By Ethlie Ann Vare

Hollywood, CA (The Hollywood Times) 5/11/24 – You remember Dane Cook, the brash young comic who sold out Madison Square Garden two nights in a row, whose propulsive style had audiences gasping for breath between peals of laughter, whose dimples graced billboards up and down the Sunset Strip… whatever happened to him? Well, there was the manager/brother who stole from him, accusations of joke stealing, and some misogynistic material that just wasn’t going to hold up past 2016. But mostly, people just got tired of Dane Cook and Dane Cook just got tired.

So, when Dane Cook headlined a show at the elegant 960-seat Montalban Theater on Vine Street in the heart of Hollywood as part of the Netflix Is A Joke Fest (35 Venues! 400 comedians! 500 shows!) after an almost 10-year hiatus, I had to go check it out.

Cook — 52 now, decidedly fleshy and middle-aged but still unmistakably himself — was greeted with a standing ovation. He started by acknowledging the opening acts, complimenting the venue, and thanking Netflix. This is a man on a charm offensive. And the charm turned out to be sorely needed for a crowd that was turned out to be surprisingly offensive. When did yelling profanities at the stage become standard behavior at 8pm in a historical landmark?

A storyteller more than a joke-teller, Cook may not have quite the propulsive energy he did when he started 34 years ago, back when he was sporting a mullet and driving a rusted-out Chevy Cavalier, carrying around a headshot that read “Dane Cook’s comedy is a rich blast of infectious comedic splash.” But he still has stories to tell. While he tends to be observational more than confessional, Cook did get into some personal tales about halfway into the hour and 10-minute show… and that’s when it was almost derailed by some attention whores in the orchestra section. They weren’t hecklers, per se; no one had a complaint about the jokes. They just yelled stuff. “Atta girl!”  “Fuck yeah!” “Atta boy!”

Most comics would have stopped the show, ejected the catcallers and tried to reset. Cook didn’t do that. He acknowledged the interruption and played with it, turning it into a comic runner and incorporating it into the act. Cook was rewriting his set on the fly, in real time. He wrote fresh punchlines using catcalls as material. He did callbacks to a heckle. It was a startling display of professionalism, a high-wire act that could have gone terribly wrong. This is the guy who’s trying really hard to charm us, after all.

Cook managed to best his hecklers without alienating them, making them part of the show.  “I win,” he smiled at the catcallers as he wrapped up all the loose threads into a perfect narrative bow. He had, and they loved him for it.

Three local comedians opened the show for Cook. Katie Cazorla, a raspy-voiced blonde self-described as “busted Drew Barrymore,” and the younger, blonder Erica Rhodes (“a participation trophy wife”) both had snappy, well-paced sets. Vinny Fasline was also well received, although his “girls be liking throw pillows” approach didn’t win me over.

The Netflix Is A Joke Fest has metastasized since its last incarnation in 2022, taking over all of Hollywood for 12 days and incorporating a live nightly talk show on the streamer. I assume it will be back; Los Angeles will run out of comedians before Netflix runs out of money.

Netflix Is A Joke Fest

Through May 12

netflixisajokefest.com

Montalban Theatre

1615 North Vine Street

Hollywood CA 90028