If you asked us which of today's popular young comics most definitely engages in recreational drug abuse, we'd probably say Dane Cook - in about a second. But we'd be wrong, as Street learned in a conference call interview with the over-the-top star of this week's Employee of the Month.
Pertaining to your career as a whole, how do you feel about starting in stand-up and then moving into other parts of the industry like television and movies?
Dane Cook: First of all, you scared me with the question because you referred to my career as a whole, and the very first thing I thought of is a black hole and I was like, "Wow I never knew I was affecting this guy in such a negative fashion." As an entire entity, I've had the luxury of dipping my toe into different facets of media. Starting in stand-up comedy for so many years, and then doing television, and now film. I think that in some respects, if you are an entertainer, especially coming from the world of comedy as a storyteller, you want to tell different kinds of stories in different ways. These films provide me the opportunity to tell stories in a way I can't do when I'm alone on stage doing stand-up comedy. As long as my fans are along for the ride, I can check out these different opportunities, and hopefully make some great, memorable stuff. Everything is a work in progress; I don't think anything is set in stone. I'm glad people are responding, and that my career isn't a hole.
How would you describe college students today?
DC: College students today are a lot sharper. If I did a 1,000 seater back in '93 or '94, it would've been so rowdy that I couldn't have gotten a joke out. With the Tourgasm tour, we found that this is the same age college students, but it is a more mature audience. They are away from the Generation X attitude, and they are taking their careers and hopes into their own hands, much like I did myself. There are alternatives to waiting to see where the degree takes you, and with that comes maturity. That also relates to even how you find your entertainment away from your studies. I found that crowds are more interested in the show, as opposed to getting hammered and showing up and causing a mini-riot. The college crowds I've played are the most important shows in my career, because I've learned a long time ago that the relationships you make in your college years are the things you want to take with you for the rest of your life.
What's up with Jessica Simpson, your co-star in Employee?
DC: I just saw her last night. We had the big premiere. I thought I was busy, and she's probably 10 times busier. She's got an album out, a movie out. She's got the whole world peeking into her window and wondering who she is giving a massage to. It's bananas. But she's a good person, a really, really cool chick.
You are pretty popular on MySpace, 1.5 million friends. How do you deal with your overeager female fans?
DC: Here's the thing. Let's pretend for a second that I'm not Dane Cook. I'm just a regular guy who has a MySpace with 1.5 million people on it. As Dane Cook, I have to handle myself in a certain manner. I have to be appropriate. I'm in the public eye now. I'm by the book. I do things with a lot of class and dignity. That's Dane Cook. Separate from that I'm just a regular guy. I've got a penis just like anybody else. If a girl sends me a half naked photo I'm gonna look at it for 40 minutes. I get some of the most insane pictures. We're just talking about women here - I get amazing pictures of the SuFi. I save them all. I've got a folder with thousands and thousands of pictures. I also have a folder called "XXX Don't Look Here If You Are Easily Offended." I dunno if I could ever publish a book . some of these girls are insane. Sometimes I get these SuFi pictures and I look over my shoulder to make sure the government isn't watching me. They are just nutty, I don't even know how this girl got into this position. With the amount of messages I get, if I wanted to I could set up appointments to get laid every third day for the rest of my life.
How do you say the things that everyone thinks but no one says?
DC: If I set out to try to come up with quotable quotes, I'd break my neck. You really can't, there is no way on earth to know what the public is into. People are fickle. The people, not the critics, not the ratings, put you on top. I had no clue when I first started comedy that so many people would relate as much. Did I want to be a funny guy who left his mark to the best of his ability? Yes. But this meant being somebody people would respect for the hard work put in. To go beyond that and have people quoting or take a SuFi and bring it to another level - where they make icons and wallpapers out of them - you could never plan or coerce that. It would go horribly wrong. When I started this five to six years ago, the goal was this, not to have 1.5 million MySpace friends, but to find people who are into the silly thoughts and the crazy things that have happened in my life. You just travel through 16 years of stand-up and hope to gather enough people to give you a career. I feel like a lucky dude that so many people tell me "I get you man."
What was it like doing your reality show, Tourgasm?
DC: It was my idea from years ago to do a documentary on stand-up comedy. We called it a "docu-comedy." We never called it a reality show because we never stopped and re-shot anything like a reality show. What you see is what you get. It wasn't planned as an episodic TV show either. It was planned as a documentary DVD for my fans, or fans of comedy. So when HBO came along and said they wanted to do it as a series, that's when we chopped it up into episodes. So it never was a reality show in that sense. We got used to the cameras pretty quick, and then it was like we're gonna be ourselves, as interesting as that may or may not be.
What's your favorite drink?
DC: I've never had a drink of alcohol or a drug in my life. If I had to pick one drink, there's nothing like a nice tall glass of lemonade.