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.