Dane Cook has always told it like it is. The 47-year-old was once seen as the comedy world's most polarizing figure, and despite a few tumultuous years in both his professional and personal life, Cook has nothing but good things to say about his future- specifically his new comedy tour. Many thought the Cambridge native was done with touring and were even surprised to hear that he was hitting the road again, but Cook has never put down the mic. He simply was focusing on what made him feel inspired again, and the result is his "Tell Like It Is Tour"- which undoubtedly will be his best one yet.
Dane Cook is back on tour, telling it like it is and better than ever
So what has Cook been up to since his last big tour six years ago? "Truth be told it was more of a period of my life where I chose to focus on making films, writing, producing and working on my book- but I never stopped doing stand-up," says Cook. "I've still done full-fledged tours but just not ones that were highly promoted."
Cook is bringing his latest tour to the City of Brotherly Love at the new Met Philadelphia venue this Saturday, March 30, and the comedian is feeling better than ever. "Over the last year and a half, my material started getting so verbose. It truly felt like I was having, almost similar to when I first broke through, this explosion of ideas and things were coming to me so quickly," Cook says. "I am finally almost 30 years in and at the pedigree I've always aspired to be. I never felt like I had all the tools, I always felt like I was good at just some stuff. So when I finally felt seasoned - all these things started to click. Also feeling so present and happy in my life in general, I was just like wow I think I want to do this again full force."
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The seasoned professional sprinkled in a bit of acting, added a dash of writing and smattered in a directing gig to get to where he is now. "Really it came from an organic amount of time in my life and career where stand-up was just stand-up for the love of it again. As opposed to ten to fifteen years ago when it was the machine of stand-up or the business of stand-up," Cook says.
Although comedy is a bit of a minefield especially in today's social climate, Cook is unafraid to continue to be who he is or say what he feels. To him, it's not about being censored, it's more about intentions.
"We definitely are in a time where things are more politically correct and charged up and opinionated. I think that from where I'm standing, I feel like the comedians I see, the ones that can manage those caustic conversations - if it's not coming from a place of malice, then anything can be funny. I think our bullsh*t detectors are a lot better than they used to be, I think the stuff that isn't funny isn't because it's not well crafted or it's coming from a person who might be misogynistic or racist," says Cook. "Our detectors can say this guy over here is mean and he's unfair, whereas this guy over here is coming from a place with no malice and there's no secondary hidden subliminal message in it. I think the right man or woman on stage on any given night can be as politically incorrect as they want to and need to be if it's coming from a very honest place to them."
Cook also understands that sometimes you do have to rock the boat- no matter who it may offend or piss off, not for the shock value anymore but simply because comedy is not supposed to hold back- not even a little. "I think I've covered every topic that is taboo, and I think there's probably a point in every young comedian's career where we feel like we've gotta push it to the limit and see if we can talk about some of those stinger conversations. That's the challenge."
Cook has taken on that challenge his whole career- all while reaping the benefits and suffering the consequences. "I've sometimes lost that challenge with pieces of material over the years- but I'm proudest to say in 29 years, I've never done or said anything that has malice. Never something I look back on and say ugh that was deplorable. I could maybe look back and think, maybe that wasn't the sharpest notion, but I am pleased to say I don't cringe looking back at something that I thought would hurt someone's feelings today."
Cook's "Tell It Like It Is" tour is not a comeback, not a swan song or even an attempt to be "popular" again. Cook doesn't need that- he has accumulated such a strong fan base throughout his career that it only makes sense that he return to the art form that originally kickstarted him into stardom. "Stand-up is always going to be at the center of who I am- I just love it, I love live performances. Just the way that stand-up is so untethered from any other cooperation or system- it's such a pure art form. It's for me again, I'm really having the time of my life."
If you go: March 30, 7 pm, The Met Philadelphia, 858 N Broad St., Philadelphia, $40-$120, themetphilly.com