He’s been called obnoxious, hilarious, a frat boy, silly, smug and he’s one of the biggest names in comedy. He’s Dane Cook, and whatever you think about his polarizing performances on stage, it is a stage persona. The Dane Cook who showed up to spend an hour talking with Ron Bennington at Caroline’s on Broadway this week for the SiriusXM Show Unmasked was the real Dane Cook, and it’s a side of Dane you’ve never seen it before. Forthcoming, thoughtful, and even vulnerable, Dane got ‘real’ and shared some very personal stories with Bennington and the live audience at Caroline’s.
I lost both my mom and dad to cancer within 9 months. It was unbelievable. It was impossible. But we dealt with it through a lot of humor. We laughed a lot. We shared a lot of memories and I really got to show my parents everything that I wanted to do
I lost both my mom and dad to cancer within 9 months. It was unbelievable. It was impossible. But we dealt with it through a lot of humor. We laughed a lot. We shared a lot of memories and I really got to show my parents everything that I wanted to do, they got to really be a part of. And after they were gone, I still kind of kept charging. And I realized at the beginning of 2010, that I had not like grieved, that I had not really stopped. I thought I was fine. I really thought I was fine. I was just like ‘No. My fans are happy. I’m happy.’ And I realized I wasn’t fine. I realized that I was bummed out and it had really caught up to me. So, I took 2010 off.
During the downtime, he had committed to working on himself. He went to therapy, connected with friends and focused on self improvement. “I was kind of a regular dude for awhile, a regular square. Hung out and wore flip-flops. And got bored quite a bit. And by the end of that year, I felt like I had worked…had the next set of tools I would need to progress forward.”
But Dane hit another personal roadblock soon after that, when he learned that his brother had embezzled a serious amount of money from him while working as his manager. Dane described the feeling in one word.
“Betrayal, yeah. And that was on the heels of my parents. It was like a one-two-three punch.I was moving my business out to the West Coast. I had bought a home there. And I called…well, he’s my half-brother, but I called him up and I said, ‘I need to do this right. I need to keep things on the up and up, so my business needs to be out of where I’m a resident of’. He wasn’t really interested in sending the file cabinet, so to speak. And I really didn’t think at first…I love my brother. Really, we never had even a poor word to say about each other. He was a seemingly, just kind of like a regular nice guy. And when I finally demanded, you know you’ve got to send this stuff out, it all came to light. And yeah, it was just ugly. It was really an unbelievable…I remember the day that it happened and turning to my then girlfriend and I was like, ‘I think my brother stole like all my money’.
I was in dire straights that year. And I told my manager, I said I’m going to put a tour together of these arenas…And I had to pay for that. People don’t realize I rented them myself. So, I had to kind of go even further into what I felt was ‘the hole’.
I will tell you something and I don’t care if it comes across as corny. I was in dire straights that year. And I told my manager, I said I’m going to put a tour together of these arenas because I did the HBO show and I said I’m already demanding these large crowds. I said I’m going to book 80 arenas this year. And I had to pay for that. I, actually most of these places, people don’t realize I rented them myself. So, I had to kind of go even further into what I felt was like ‘the hole’. And my fans saved my life. Because every thing I did that year, I got back what I lost. I got my nest egg back. I kept the house that I just bought that I thought I was going to lose. And it’s because of that year and that connection that I had with my fans that I was like ‘I will never do something again that don’t feel is completely true and the best of what I can give to them to entertain people’. So, isn’t that weird? It’s kind of weird. It’s like I wouldn’t want that to happen again. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody, but it gave me something that I didn’t have before. A deeper gratitude. And so, that’s why ‘Troublemaker’ is what it is. Because it’s just all me, all passion from my heart. And I just want you to laugh your asses off for an hour and a half. That’s all I want.”
Bennington asked Dane if he ever thought about not coming back to comedy at all or at least not on the same scale. Dane said that yes, there have been moments when he’s said to himself, ‘Okay. Does it need to be bigger?’ He said there were times where he felt like just being in the smaller clubs was enough.
There was that chunk of time where I was like ‘I’m really sick of myself.’ It was like, I was everywhere and I was kind of like, I really want to step back. And I started with a whole new team of people. I just wanted to really kind of downsize everything and make thing more personal. Take a little bit more time, not just sign on to a movie because it’s there. And have everything be from me and my passion and my ideas with my guys that I like to…you know, the comics and the Justice League I’ve formed around me. I’d rather work with those people and have something that may either make it or not, but on our own laurels. So, I did want to stop a couple of times during that year, but only out of fear of getting back up there. Because that’s what happens to us when we’re away for a little bit. Once I grabbed onto that mic after one year, it was just…that was like it was on again.”
And now Dane is back and ready to work with a brand new special.
‘I’m feeling happier and healthier than I ever have in my life and have these great fans and they’re waiting and they’re excited and they’re writing me every day. Like “we’re waiting here for you man”. It was emotional. But I was good to go. And I knew the material was right on target. So, here we are, hours away. Finally.”
You can see Dane Cook’s new special “Troublemaker” premiering on Showtime, tonight, October 17th at 10 pm et. It will be available on Showtime On Demand starting the next day, Saturday, October 18th.
Ron Bennington’s Unmasked with Dane Cook in it’s entirety (including an amazing story about getting heckled with hot dogs) this Friday October 17, at 2pm eastern time on the Ron and Fez Show. You can listen on SiriusXM’s Raw Dog Channel 99. Replays of this episode will run Saturday, October 18th at 7 pm et and on Sunday, October 19th at 2 pm and 10 pm et. You will also be able to hear the full hour-long interview in its entirety on SiriusXM On Demand.
Unmasked — an hour long interview show talking about creativity with comedians– is taped before a live studios audience. In addition to hosting Unmasked, Ron Bennington also hosts Ron Bennington Interviews and is the primary voice on The Ron and Fez Show weekdays from noon to 3pm et on SiriusXM. For information on how to get tickets to tapings of Unmasked, follow@UnmaskedShow on twitter.