I can’t help but scoff at the Dane Cookization of America. Cook rouses laughter through his spastic body movements and mockery of social phenomena. His antics are amusing at best, at worst, Dane Cook is ruining America.
While Cook’s comedic doctrine is governed by outlandish behavior, he also presents a suitable outlet for inner aggression and bites his thumb at the status quo. His repertoire is likened to the classical comedians of yesteryear like George Carlin however, modernity brought with it the death of the stand up comedian. Several variables led to the demise of the Catskill comedian, namely, the birth of SNL, Jerry Seinfeld’s conversion of whining to humor, and finally, the proliferation of idiocy through democratic vehicles like You Tube. If I were to add to Dane Cook’s biography on Wikipedia it would read “Dane Cook is to comedy what a double cheeseburger is to fast food: overexposed, over-processed, and oversaturated through the use of human growth hormones.” Cook replaces wit with charm and depth with a hot body.
In researching this article, I came across several websites that are exclusively devoted to hating Dane Cook. I found www.DaneCookSucks.com whose tag line reads “The stupider you are, the funnier he is.” Of course staging a counterinsurgency against American stupidity is hardly the way to win friends and influence people. The goal of this article therefore, is not to win popular support through character assassinations but rather, to expose Dane Cook’s hidden Populist agenda.
Dane Cook’s Tourgasm on HBO is much like William Jennings Bryant’s’ Free Silver Platform. Like Cook, Bryant appealed to the average Americans by campaigning for issues that affected people’s everyday lives. While the Populist Party grew out of the agrarian revolt that led to the collapse of agriculture prices, the Dane Cookization of America came as a result of the intellectual and moral decline of Americans.
While Populism felt good and was based on the democratic tenets of liberal democracy, it ultimately declined with Bryant’s defeat in the 1892 Presidential election. One could argue that Bryant’s loss was largely due to his naive idealism. After three failed presidential bids, William Jennings Bryant is remembered as a Communist, anti-Darwin, silver hugging zealot. Like Bryant, Cook will soon vanquish into the annals of history. In recent years, however, we have seen a resurgence of Populist movements, championed by the election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Hopefully, spastic comedy is just a fad.
But most Americans settle for Cook’s comedy because he reminds us of that frat boy we once hooked up with because all of the good-on-paper guys were too busy attending College Democrats meetings. Still, his sobriety in questionable and his paddle has been replaced with a microphone.
Some critics praise Cook’s style because he returned American stand up to the simplicity of finger painting. Perhaps Americans have grown tired with the crude gaucheness of Larry David. Indeed, not everyone is amused by David’s antics, ordering a vanilla bullshit drink at Starbucks and high-fiving an African American dermatologist for benefiting from Affirmative Action.
In a recent Times article, Richard Zaglin noted that Cook welcomes life’s exasperations “with the thrill of a class prankster turned cultural anthropologist.” While Cook touches on germane topics such as dating, road rage, and the importance travel mugs,Cook lacks insight into pressing world issues such as the sex slave trade, and the imminent threat of Iranian nuclear proliferation.
Dane Cook’s success reveals that not all Americans seek politics in their comedy. While I subscribe to the belief that Stephen Colbert is to comedy what Kol Nidre is to Judaism, I understand that Colbert’s mordant wit` is not suitable for the goat herders of North Dakota. Historically, comedy served as a safe outlet for escaping from the human condition of pain and loneliness. The Daily Show and Colbert Report single handedly transformed the role of the comedian from social commentator to political realist. Even Maureen Dowd notes that Stewart and Colbert are the most trusted names in news.
Is America stupid because of Dane Cook or is Dane Cook stupid because of America? While this question is as difficult as explaining the differences between Ted Nugent and Satan, one fact remains constant. You can’t convince someone of funny.