There Is Only One October

It’s hard to think of one person that would be more unpopular to defend than the guy I’m going to attempt to explain. Meet Dane Cook.

Let me start by saying that I’m not defending Dane, the actor. I couldn’t really tell you how good/bad he is, as I’ve never seen one of his starring role flicks. Considering that his co-stars have been Jessica Simpson and Jessica Alba, it would appear like Cook chooses his roles like a male porn start does. Is my leading lady incredibly f-able? Then that is the movie I want to do. I will offer up that the only time I’ve ever really watched him act was on an episode he hosted of SNL in 2005 and he was really good.

I’ve weighed in here before about Dane, the comic. Not my favorite for a host of reasons, but I’m the first to admit the guy has brought rock and roll comedy to a whole different level. Sure Kinison and Dice Clay had rock stars coming to their shows, but Cook is the first comic who performs like he is the sexy lead singer of the band. Cook is so dynamic on-stage that he can make women pee their pants from laughing and these same women don’t even know it because they were already wet for other reasons. (Hey, I know it ain’t the most classy description I’ve ever offered up here.)

I’ve never met Dane, the person, but I do know a couple people who have. From that I do know that he is very loyal to his friends and the people that have helped him on his recent off-the-charts success. He is not an overnight sensation, as he has been doing comedy since the mid-90’s. Cook pioneered a self-promotional method on the internet, through first his website, then free clips on Napster, and finally through Myspace.com. Even other comics, who are are the leaders of the hate Dane Cook fanclub, use many of these same methods now to promote themselves. Yeah, it isn’t the most artistic concept to say marketing is the biggest factor in your career, but in standup comedy you still have to make people laugh. Cook’s style over substance ways are lost on a lot of people over 30, but he found a way to really connect with the 15-29 age range. Since these are the people that advertisers most want to reach, he has become an incredibly hot commodity to Hollywood.

With this bit of background, let’s get to the point of this piece. Defending Dane, the baseball pitchman. Slamming his promo spots for Fox is a sport in itself for baseball bloggers. My question to you haters is "what do you want, instead?" I’m guessing that most who come to this site have the attitude that "who cares about marketing the game to non-fans." Well, I care, as the sport I love so much I want more people to embrace. If it takes Alyssa Milano writing a blog or Dane Cook overemoting a bit to help bring a younger audience to the game, so be it.

Baseball has been behind the curve for a long time trying to market its game versus the NBA and NFL. While I think it is the best professional sport to watch, it is not a sport that lends itself to the ESPN highlight reels that the NBA and NFL do so well. The clips that feature Cook have him passionately discussing the merits of why the game is so great. I know many of us think Major League Baseball doesn’t need these type of promotional pushes, but even though the attendance figures are at record highs, the game is being ignored by much of the younger generations. Just because you play it or not, doesn’t determine if you are going to view it on TV. If so, professional soccer would be competing with the NFL for ratings. The dwindling participation rates in Little Leagues does hurt the growth of the sport. If some 12 year-old thinks Dane Cook is cool and gives MLB a closer look, than the commercials have been a positive for the game.

Finally, I’m not saying that this means that continuous viewings of these clips don’t start to drive me a bit insane, too. I’m not a guy who likes a rerun (except for on What’s Happenin’). I thought the short promo clips for Frank TV on TBS were hilarious…in the beginning…but even they started to get to the point of making me feel a bit uneasy. I know how oversaturation can create a backlash against a person and the person in question happens to be one of my best friends. Considering all the people that Frank inhabits so amazingly, I thought the only problem he would have with this topic would be oversaturated…fats.

I’m not sure what my final stance is on this one, but I guess I’m saying that when it comes to these Fox promo pieces, I don’t think they deserve the venom they have received. Dane Cook was never as great as he was being sold by the media on his way up, but he definitely isn’t as bad as he being portrayed by the hipsters on his way down. The Juice Blog has gotten some notoriety for its Please Explain topics. From the beginning, Dane Cook has been the number 1 requested celebrity for me to do a Please Explain on. While I’m not a big fan, I’ve always understood Dane’s charm and respect his hard work and dynamic stage presence.

Let the punches fly my way. I suspect I will be cowering in the corner of the ropes for the next 15 rounds.

30 thoughts on “There Is Only One October

  1. 1.  I have not for one second been annoyed or irritated by those Dane Cook promos. Not that I like them, really, but they seem pretty easy to ignore, unlike the Frank TV ads. I would rate them as harmless.

    I’ve gotten the sense that the people who hate those promos have a pre-existing dislike of Dane Cook. It sounds to me like the complaints aren’t so much about the ads themselves, but that Dane Cook, for some reason, does not deserve to be the guy doing them.

    I had never heard of the guy before these complaints started popping up, so I have no such feelings about him. I just assumed he was some generic soap-opera-actor dude reading his lines.

  2. 2.  I’m kind of indifferent about Dane Cook, I’ve seen maybe one stand up show and thought it was ok, but he wasn’t someone I was going to go looking for on a Saturday night standup before I hit a club. But the commercials have just been so incredibly over the top that it’s nails on the chalkboard for me. Plus, when I first saw them, I thought, “Dane Cook? Really? Dane Cook?”

  3. 3.  I have seen Dane Cook’s stand-up on TV on a few occasions and don’t find him funny. Regardless, I’d like to throw Eddie Murphy’s name into the ring as a comic who made like a rock star, and he pre-dated Kinison or Dice. Okay, maybe he wasn’t all rock n roll, but Eddie did love the Bus Boys.

  4. 4.  Dane Cook is just so loud. His comic shows are all energy and no jokes, but hey fine if you like that sort of thing (AKA you are an idiot- and let me stress that I am not calling you an idiot Scott). It would be one thing if there was just a cult audience of people whose favorite bands were still Guns and Roses and ACDC and they were the sort of people who couldn’t stop reminiscing about “Dumb and Dumber” as the pinnacle of comic movies. But he is the most famous comic on the planet! His rise to the top is just inexplicable, I think Bill Simmons pointed out that Dave Chapelle was the most famous comic in the world and then his nose dive cleared the way for Dane Cook. The Chapelle show was by any standard hilarious and Dane Cook is by most standards… not. So maybe that sharp drop off in quality is why the hipsters have been sharpening their knives for Dane for a while now.

    Also, what the fuck is up with Dane’s haircut in those “One October” ads. That was the first Dane Cook related thing I ever got a gut busting laugh out of. It looks like a Dr. Suess character in dreads.

    Mr. Brooks was good in a campy kind of way though.

  5. 5.  And although they pre-date Rock n Roll, Martin and Lewis were more of an event, a phenomenon than Murphy, Cook or any of them…

  6. 6.  The Dane Cook ads are:

    1) Too loud. It seems to be a phony passion, not someone who is really passionate

    2) Too many. You don’t need to hit me over the head with them — especially when I’m already watching a frickin’ post season game. Hello, I’m already hooked, no need to tempt me.

    The only thing I hate about the Frank TV ones is that there were too many of them as well.

    I’ve only seen Dane on SNL — never heard of him before. The stint was ok, but nothing stands out in my mind. You do have one telling description of him, Scott: “style over substance.” I like my comics to be funny, not self-promoters. And yes, everyone in show biz does have to promote themselves, but I need a reason to watch you, and doing a Bianca Jagger (yup I’m that old) Paris Hilton thing gets you no more than 15 seconds of my time.

  7. 7.  A few points:

    I’m no TV genius, but I also think it’s strange to promote a game I’m already watching, “Hey that playoff baseball sounds great!!! I should watch it….oh wait, I am.”.

    Compared to the stomach cramps Buck and McCarver give me, the Dane Cook spots are the sweetest sounds ever created by humanity. (Note to Joe and Tim: The manner in which an outfielder catches a ball reveals no deep secrets into a man’s character).

    Regarding promotion to young fans…I have no idea what would or wouldn’t ‘play to the kids’, I do think it’s a worthy cause to try to make baseball appealing to them however. Is Dane Cook that guy?? I don’t know. I do think that baseball will have zero attendance problems into the foreseeable future as long as the beer still flows freely in stadiums across the land.

  8. 8.  Fine that Cook is nice to his friends and is pretty. I don’t care, but fine. I’m not sure this piece actually constitutes a defense of him, given that he’s a comedian and you didn’t say he was funny. You know better and so does anybody who’s watched his show while not impaired (either by drugs or genetics).

    It’s not funny. He’s an unfunny comedian. He’s the David “Trickless Magician” Blaine of comedy.

    My question to you haters is “what do you want, instead?”

    Easy. Eric Byrnes.

  9. 9.  8 “What do you want, instead?”

    How about those commericials TNT did for the NBA playoffs with Ali G a few years ago? Those were f’ing hilarious! In fact, I might go watch them on YouTube again just to remember how awesome they were.

    Obviously you can’t do that same thing again, but it also proves that you CAN do promos for sports that follow a theme and are funny. (The Frank TV ones had the right idea, but individually weren’t funny enough to create any sort of rhythm or anticipation).

  10. 11.  Defending the defense:

    I don’t know if Dane’s fandom is real or not. Bill Simmons had an SNL cast member on his podcast for a long, funny conversation that showed he was a true fan. If I hear Dane talking 20 minutes about the Sox, with personal stories that aren’t cherry picked from media accounts, then I’ll buy his fandom.

    I don’t get people saying “he’s not funny.” Funny is personal, and relative, so maybe it’s just that-he cracks me up, (and I just turned 36) and he doesn’t for you. I just finished Kevin Smith’s book, and that is something that he repeats over and over-if you don’t like his stuff, (and I do) then you don’t. No harm, no foul.

    But I never saw Dumb and Dumber, and I don’t listen to AC/DC any more. Maybe Cook steals, maybe he doesn’t-I don’t know enough to know. His comedy consists mostly of long stories-and I guess I can understand, if you’re predisposed not to like him, waiting for him to get to a point must be maddening. But to say that he doesn’t have jokes-I don’t get it. I relisten to his comedy albums-something I don’t do to many-to hear him go through the routines again. The Burger King bit, the Walgreens bit, the Welsh’s bit-ok, the incidents themselves are kind of humdrum, but I love listening to him tell the story.

    In the same way, I can’t stand Curb Your Enthusiasm. I recognize his genius, but to watch the show is painful to me-his character is so unpleasant I can’t laugh at him. But that’s me.

    I share your view, Scott, that anything that sells the game to a new generation is pretty much ok by me. Running the commercials during the game is kind of silly. Kind of like my DirectTV trying to get me to switch to DirectTV. I guess they’re trying to hook bystanders and casual viewers and all, but it still doesn’t seem to make any sense.

  11. 12.  Those Lasroda commercials last year were superb.

    They were funny, appealed to the a majority of baseball fans (including fans of teams who had not made the playoffs(, and featured a well known hall of famer.

    I guess, that’s what I’d rather have–something in that vein.

  12. 14.  12 I too loved those Lasorda commercials last year. They were quite a bit more creative and actually held my attention. Plus they were so weird, I had to appreciate them.

  13. 15.  The Lasorda spots, the NFL’s Don Cheadle spots, those were good promos. I can’t stand Dane Cook, so I come to this with some bias, but my objection to the commercials is that they’re so loud and brash and in-your-face. I don’t mind loud in general (I still listen to AC/DC, a lot), but it’s inappropriate for MLB. The best baseball announcers are guys like Vin Scully and Bob Sheppard. Baseball is slow, suspenseful, and literary. FOX has never understood that. Give me commercials like the Cheadle spots that talk about the lore of the game, that remind me how riveting postseason baseball can be, not because of the wham-bang action (which doesn’t exist), but because of the tension and release, the suspense, the drama, the sense of history being made.

    If you want to appeal to kids put Elmo in a Sox hat (not that there’s much point with first pitch at 8:30pm). If you want to appeal to high school and college kids have Jessica Alba and Orlando Bloom do dramatic readings like the Cheadle spots. If you want to do comedy, get good writers and have the players participate (like the Mariners commercials over the years, or last year’s Lasorda spots, or the SportsCenter spots). I said it before in the discussion about this year’s NLCS being bad for baseball: Promote the players. Put them in the commercials, like those United Way spots, humanize them, bring out their personalities. Why do you need Dane Cook to promote your game when you’ve got Big Papi and Derek Jeter and Jimmy Rollins etc.?

  14. 16.  Hmm… I seem to disagree, I think baseball is all about action moments. When I think of a literary sport, I think of soccer, and to a lesser extent, hockey. Whether that improves or detracts from the effectiveness of an announcer or promotion, I don’t know.

    I also am unbiased against Dane Cook. I thought the commercials were good (honestly, I thought they were a more hyped up version of the Cheadle NFL promos, which I thought appropriate, since this is the playoffs). From the couple I have seen, they did a good job of bringing out the stories of each team. They weren’t great (like the Ali G commercials) but great anythings are rare.

    In a way, it reflects exactly how I feel about Joe Buck. Maybe he says some things I roll my eyes to, but I know that he presents the game in an interesting, clear, exciting way that my fiance, my mom, and my football fan friends will enjoy. MLB does not need to cater to me, I will watch regardless. And while I would love to hear Joe Sheehan in the booth, somehow I don’t think that will appeal to the masses (yet). Very very few people can satisfy everyone, but if I had to choose, I’d rather have it this way.

    And Dane Cook seems to have a very sound selection strategy when it comes to movie roles…

  15. 17.  16 I agree that Buck makes the game interesting to casual fans, too bad he dispenses so much mis-information in the process.

    One example out of THOUSANDS:

    (paraphrasing)…Mike Lowell’s RBI total is amazing when you consider that batting after Manny and Ortiz, there is rarely anyone on base. Manny and Ortiz’s OB% are perennially very good and Lowell comes up to the plate with men on as much as almost anyone. He couldn’t have been more wrong.

    It’s probably not as hard to be interesting when you don’t care if what you say has any basis in the truth.

  16. 18.  I never heard of Dane Cook until he started doing the ad’s. I liked his enthusiasm and other then the pure volume of the ad’s I didn’t understand the venom directed his way. He seems harmless.

  17. 19.  17
    I’m developing a gag reflex because of Buck and Tim. Is it any wonder that the casual baseball fan is clueless if they get their information from these guys.

  18. 20.  The demographic MLB is trying to appeal to in these ads is not 80 year-old, prostitute loving Italians. Ali G was great, especially for the NBA, but I am sure most of the baseball purists would have a heart attack watching Sasha Baron Cohen do ads for MLB.

    I understand the question behind showing the ads during the game not really bringing in new fans. I’m sure Cook was hired as much as any because of his web impact. These clips on Youtube, etc. get tens, if not hundreds of thousands of hits there. Eric Byrnes is not going to bring young, casual fans to the party. We live in a celeb focused culture, so if you aren’t the flavor of the month, you are most likely going to be ignored. This especially holds true for people under the age of 30. (I really try not to sound like the cranky old guy, but in this case, it just seems to be a fact of life.)

    I do agree with Cliff that the league should do a better job of using the players to help promote the league. The league could really use a Peyton Manning, but then every business could. Unfortunately, most of the best players in the league have had steroid allegations surrounding them, which has kept major advertisers from using them. Off the top of my head, it is hard to think of a top 10 baseball player with a good sense of humor, which doesn’t help. Baseball is definitely better for having so many great Hispanic players, but that doesn’t translate so well with Madison Avenue. See NASCAR’s growth versus Indy Car during the past 15 years, if you don’t believe me that having an All-American type personality matters greatly with Advertisers.

    Alex makes a great point about Eddie Murphy being the first rock star comic. I guess my rebuttal would be that Murphy was already a major star from SNL before his short standup stardom happened. Cook made himself a star through standup and became a sensation by bringing the rock star vibe to the act. Different circumstances, but I would completely agree that Murphy definitely had a rock star style, with his leather ensembles.

    I agree with a lot of what Reuben offered up. I initially did my post on readers top 3 national play by play announcers and top 3 national analysts. Considering that most here HATE anyone that works for Fox or ESPN, I wanted to know who they would have do the gig. I received few answers. I think this is about not grading on a curve. There are unreasonable expectations here. Having said that I do think it is a Universal Truth that Joe Morgan is the worst.

  19. 21.  More power to Dane Cook that he can co-star with any babe named Jessica, but clearly they’re not shooting for my demographic (cranky, white, know-it-all 44 year-olds) with the ads for I didn’t know who he was until I read it some place.

    The part I never got about the spots was running ads for the games during the games (thanks for explaining the YouTube angle)–I mean, that always struck me like trying to convince a woman to date you while she was performing fellatio.

  20. 22.  15 Cliff beat me to it. I’m only 24, so the two best sport promos I think of off the top of my head are both by the NFL: the Don Cheadle playoffs spots, and the very first NFL Network “Tomorrow” spot.

    I’m definitely in the “why are you all laughing at this?” contingent when it comes to Cook, but while I may hate the player, I don’t hate the game. Dude gambled big early on, putting everything he had into his career, and he’s reaped big rewards. The thing about the One October ads is that they’re inane. I don’t like Lasorda, but those ads had charm and warmth. The MLB ad with all the players singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in their native tongues was awesome because of that charm factor. The Cook ads feel sterile and contrived for all the reasons stated above: we’re already watching, and there’s no substance to the observations Cook’s spouting (“The Rockies! They play in thin air!”). Finally, he’s not being funny, so he’s not appealing to his comedy audience, and he’s not distinguishing himself as a dramatic character the way Cheadle did. In sum, he doesn’t have to be on screen, and a lot of other people could’ve voiced the spots. I think the spots suffer from putting Cook on screen. Remove his mug entirely, keep the images confined to the players, and the disgust wouldn’t have been nearly as prevalent.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2151046/

  21. 23.  Thanks for the link, David. The piece is really well-done, overall. Cook greatest characteristic is being a great source of energy. It is strange for a generation that doesn’t do much physically taxing work, the under 25 set is always seeking energy, be it Red Bull or Starbucks. They grew up with MTV generation fast cut video. So it seems reasonable that they would want their comedians to be fast-action, caffeinated jesters.

  22. 24.  Dane Cook the comedian is fine. He’s a conversationalist comedian. He doesnt tell jokes, he doesnt tell one-liners, he’s just a story teller that does have alot of charisma on stage. Not sure where all the hate comes from either.

  23. 25.  Bill Cosby is a conversationalist comedian. The difference is that his conversations are incredibly hilarious. Dane Cook IMO is just there. I don’t hate him. I just find him unfunny.

    I also find his spots on Fox to be inane. They’ll be forgotten minutes after the series ends. I don’t dislike Cook for his fame. There are plenty of famous people that worked a lot less than he did to reach their station in life. There are plenty more that reach fame status only because the genetic tumblers rolled all 7’s for them.

    I just think the MLB and Fox should invest in a marketing strategy with more reach than a celebrity stating the obvious.

    I’ll take the Buck & McCarver tandem over Miller and Morgan on radio any day. Us West coasters are forced into listening to the first few innings on radio as we commute home from work. I really like Miller, it’s just that Morgan is so incredibly horrible that he makes the broadcast almost impossible to listen to.

  24. 26.  I don’t have the venom for the the Fox duo as many do here, though I am surprised by some of the hyperbolic comments that slip out sometimes by Buck. He is so great as an NFL play by play guy, that maybe he spreads himself a bit thin. I loathe Morgan and Miller puts me to sleep with his vocal delivery and his Perry Como style.

    I really like the genetic tumbler rolling 7’s line.

    As a comic who performs all over the country, the bill cosby style of comedy doesn’t work anymore for audiences under the age of 40. They need more action. No more days of Bill Cosby “Himself”, sitting at a chair and laying out funny story after funny story. There is a reason most of Garrison Keilor’s audience is over 50. People that like this type of comedy just don’t visit comedy clubs or one-night shows much. You have to be commanding onstage to be a successful headliner in 2008.

  25. 30.  I’ll have to consult the wife, but there is a small chance I could make it.

    On your way out of town Saturday morning, do yourself a favor and run into Unterbrink’s bakery for a snack for the road. It’s across from St. Francis’s church near Quincy University. Family owned for 100+ years, you won’t be sorry.

    I’ll let you know if I can make it.

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