Dane Cook vs. Every Other Comedian

I had to ask my more hip brother-in-law and his wife this weekend if they knew what the deal was between Dane Cook and Louis CK. I keep having to wipe bits of bile off my screen every time I go to Fark or YouTube and look up something about Dane Cook.

Apparently, he steals jokes.

So I did some investigation and from what I can find, Cook has appropriated the premises of four jokes. Four. That's all I can find.

Joke one: I'd like to name my kid a funny sound. (From Louis CK, but in fact Steve Martin did it first, so is he stealing from CK or Martin?)

Joke two: Seeing a guy on a bike get into an accident. Cook's joke is a guy being hit by a car, CK's is a guy getting hit by a car door. Both comedians have the same setup about trying to say something in the split second it takes for the accident to happen.

Joke three: Buying shoes and the clerk asks if you'd like a smaller size. Dmitri Martin says he'd take the smaller size because his toes were just severed off. Cook says he'd take the smaller size if they also had a bone saw.

Joke four: Itchy asshole. Billy Connolly did this bit back in the mid 80's. Louis CK reprised it about two years ago. Apparently Cook reprised the reprise more recently.

Ok, so four jokes over several albums and appearances. I wasn't able to find any more. Now. It's an known myth that comedians use other comedians' material. It's been going on for ages. Most of the stand up performers in the 80's borrowed from Pryor and Cosby and Carlin and probably even Burns, Lewis, Allen and Abbot/Costello. No comedian is pure. Subconsciously they'll hear something and eventually work it into their own delivery. Why? Because that's how artists work. Artists are human and their take on the world, while individual, is based on shared experiences. What are the odds that two comedians could have the same experience in a shoe store? Quite high if you ask me. How many comedians go to shoe stores? How many times have you been at a shoe store and they ask you if you'll take a different size? It happens. Is it joke stealing? Maybe.

I think what's happened is there are two groups of people who don't like each other and are using this incident to fuel the hatred. There are the hipsters who like the B-list Louis CK and the populists who like the media savvy Dane Cook. In general, hipsters and trendies and cool kids don't like popular things because they are popular and it never made sense to me. It could technically, commercially, emotionally and artistically be the greatest band ever but as soon as it's played on a top 40 radio station, it's no longer cool. And people will rail against it like an Orwellian abuse of freedom.

But why the hatred? Musicians sample all the time. Artists borrow from their influences. If someone blatantly ripped off music, they'd be outed like Milli Vanilli. But here's the catch, how many of us liked the music? If you never saw a music video or concert of them, did you still like the music? If you didn't know Cook stole four jokes, would you still think he was funny?

I'm not a rabid Cook fan. I have a couple albums and frankly I could care less if he adapted a few jokes. It's such a low percentage that it hardly seems worth the acerbity. And I'm not knocking Louis CK for fighting for what's his. He's funny as well and I really hope people can get past this spite. However, if you look at both comedians, if you took Dane Cook's manic and energy riddled performance away and you took Louis CK's swearing away, what do you have left? People trying to take daily observations and make them funny to other people, that's all. Given there are only so many things a person can do in life anyway, aren't you going to run into the same stuff over and over again?

I don't know. I'm sure there's bigger things to worry about. I don't think either comedian is the end all be all. Eddie Izzard's got them both beat. He's smarter and wittier than both these guys stitched together AND Bill Hicks to boot. (But that's a different story.)

Carry on.

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