The Latest Episodes of INSIGHT with Chris Van Vliet
Sept. 27, 2022

Dane Cook On Dealing With Hate, Dave Chappelle, His New Special "Above It All"

Dane Cook On Dealing With Hate, Dave Chappelle, His New Special "Above It All"

Dane Cook (@danecook) is a stand-up comedian and actor known for starring in movies like Waiting, Good Luck Chuck, My Best Friend's Girl and Employee Of The Month. He sits down in person with Chris Van Vliet in Hollywood, CA to talk about his new comedy special called "Above It All", why he funded it himself, what he's learned from doing comedy for 32 years, how he was able to use MySpace and the Internet early on to grow a fanbase and explode his popularity, why he feels a lot of comedians were jealous of him, why it became cool to dislike him and much more!


For more information on Dane Cook's new comedy special "Above It All" go to:


On Dane Cook’s first time onstage:

“Honestly it all happened so fast. I think if I knew I was going on that night then I would be sat there thinking well what if I bomb? But it all just happened so fast. I was up there doing some jokes and some routines that I thought of, but I was just going into it. I got a few laughs from that room of 30 to 40 people, but what I remember is feeling like right away I am a pressure planner. When it was really on me that I had to do this and I identified with it. Even though my jokes were not great and parts of the routine might have been a little lacklustre, I was prepared to meet that moment. Moving forward it was like I will be ok when I get back onstage.”  

Dane Cook on being anxious growing up:

“Yeah I was an introvert. I was one of those people that in school, forget standing up in front of the class, just the thought of the teacher asking me something, I was mortified by it. When it did happen, it was more discombobulating in that moment. I was there in class tapping my foot like please don’t call me, or in sports I would be like please don’t pass the ball to me. I didn’t want any participation because I was so scared that I would not come through.”

Dane Cook on overcoming the anxiety to become a comic:

“People ask me that at school like where did this version of me come from. I called my mom that night after the first show and she asked me how did I do? I think I exceeded my expectations, even if some of the jokes missed, it wasn’t cringey. I did like a ‘Well that joke is not ready for public consumption yet, let’s move on.’ I was covering and improv-ing, it was like a Clark Kent/Superman moment. Except I was still Clark Kent on stage, not Superman.”   

On when Dane Cook felt like a comedian:

“I was really embarrassed to say it for a long time. I wouldn’t say I do stand up comedy, I think I was ashamed of it. Up until then I worked at a pizza place, a dietary aide at a nursing home, I worked at a video store. I did anything I could to continue the stand-up career and avoid the 9-5. I knew if I went to a plan b I would get stuck in that, so I did a lot of miscellaneous stuff and got $20 here and there for stand-up.” 

On people saying ‘You're a comedian? Be funny.’

“Oh that and a lot worse. People think that just because you are a comedian then they can just have at you. It’s strange, in Boston in that era, stand-up comedy was 2 things at once. There was the boom of the 80’s with Robin Williams, Boston identified that if you are good at  the job then you are exceptional. But also with it being Boston and being rough, if you didn’t come with something that was exceptional, they would really bring the hammer down on you. Looking back it was the best thing ever because it was like a boot camp for comedy.”

On Tik Tok being used by comedians:

“There is still an ability to craft and create something that is original. I don’t think I have engaged with much on Tik Tok for a while. But Tik Tok felt like the MySpace that can cultivate the kind of audience that you want. It is up to the creator to come up with something that will get eyes on it, but you have to have a long form game plan to where you want to take your career. I tell people there is no rush to get that 5 million, because when it happens you have to be ready. If you are not, then the next one slips down to nothing, it’s gonna feel like you are over. You are not, it’s just the way society vibes with content. But if you know where you are going to take your audience, then you have a chance to utilize the machine to feed your machine. You need to have a sustaining plan to sustain.” 

On being the Nickelback of comedy:

“I’m not looking at that at the time, I’m looking at 20,000 people that loved me. I was on the cover of Time magazine when people were saying that I sucked. I was one of the most influential people on the planet and was accepting that. This is true, I was an influential person, if they did a feature on where did they misstep, I would be in that too. But I have never had an audience abandon me so I can’t do gigs, I have never not performed in 31 years. So that really helped business, because it made me more interesting than I actually am. Being that person that people really loved or hated was great for business.”

On comedy styles for different jokes:

“I made a decision in 2011 to plant my feet and not move on stage for a whole year. So I have a story in my new special about a stalker that I have been dealing with. This is a violent stalker, LAPD involved and everything. This is a person who has physically threatened to kill me. I knew that if I was going to make this story funny, I had to be caustic and tell it like this [deadpan] this woman said ‘I’m going to kill you. I’m going to find you and I’m going to murder you. I’m sitting there and all I can think of is man, I wish I read this after I ate that pizza, because I have been waiting all day… It was finding the humour, because I grew up in a family where humour helped as a coping mechanism. I was scared, genuinely, but the 2011 planting my feet, in 2022 that is the best decision I made. I can now be completely transparent.” 

On an allegedly infamous Dave Chapelle story:

“The guy that told the story even told the story by saying ‘I heard this thing. I don’t know but I heard…’ Basically he prefaced it by saying, so it was my night and Dave Chapelle did a set and said ‘Join me outside for a cigarette.’ And then the whole crowd went out, this is like 2006 and 2007 where we were both at the peak of our powers. At that time, the two people you don’t leave the room when they are on stage are me and Dave. It’s just not true. Dave would never do that, and I know people want to believe that, but 6 million people have seen that and 6 million people have been lied to.”

On the internet:

“The whole internet is someone claiming that they heard a thing, then someone makes a meme out of it, then someone is like ‘A source said…’ Then you watch it blow up, but that’s not me.”   

On movies taking Dane Cook to the next level:

“Yeah so it’s people who are really big fans of you asking if you want to play in this sandbox for a little bit. I wanted to do film and broaden my aspirations, but I just followed where stand-up takes me, and it took me to some really interesting places. I just continue to feed the stand-up, because I am excited where it takes me.”

On Dane Cook’s fiancee hearing about their relationship on stage:

“Oh she is super funny and silver tongued. You’re a comedian, you want to be with someone who thinks you are funny, but she is also funny. She will say sh*t and she will go there, she’s amazing. We laugh a lot and we have a great time.”

On advice Dane Cook gives to comedians:

“I tell them the best advice I was told, you know better than anybody what you should be doing up there. I would never dare say to anyone ‘You should be doing this…’ I would never do that. The only advice I would give is the legal side, because I have dealt with that a lot. My whole mentor thing is helping a comic, it doesn’t matter if I don’t think it is funny, it’s what you believe in in your messaging. Stay away from the noise from other people saying things like it’s too offensive. This job is about turning some people off, you won’t make everybody laugh all of the time. You want some laughing and some to be like no, I don’t want this.”

On pushing the envelope:

“It’s not really about pushing the envelope, some comics write and think what is funny to them. But the comics I love is they say what is funny to me and how can they bring me into their world, that is what you want. And if you can crack that, you can have a persona where more people who won’t laugh won’t show up to the show and more people that do laugh will.”

On what Dane Cook is grateful for:

“Love, there is a stage I can get on and that I got to show my mom and dad everything that they hoped for me.”