Can we stop? Seriously. Can we please stop dissecting every single word from the mouths of comedians? And while we’re at it, can we stop filming and taping everything so that we can use it as evidence against comedians? I’m talking to you, unseasoned comedy club attendees and mainstream media, who have no idea what you’re talking about.
Amidst the Daniel Tosh controversy (which has been taken way too far) and amidst heckler incidents surrounding Eddie Griffin and Tammy Pescatelli, Dane Cook — every bitter, sad person’s stand-up comedian target — is in trouble because he made a joke about the Aurora, CO shooting. Much like more than a few New York City comics delivered jokes about the 9/11 tragedy within days of the attack — I don’t know, because they wanted to give their nervous, scared and confused audience permission to laugh again, to release their emotions — it seems Cook took our nation’s most recent tragedy and tried to do the same.
On Thursday night at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles, Cook told the following joke: “I heard that the guy came into the theater about 25 minutes into the movie and I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie, but the movie is pretty much a piece of crap. And I know that if none of that would have happened, I’m pretty sure that somebody in that theater, about 25 minutes in, realizing that it was a piece of crap, was probably like, ‘Ugh, fucking shoot me.’”
I’m not going to post the audio, because, well, fuck that person who recorded it. But having listened to it, the crowd loved the joke. It got a big laugh. Of course, toward the end of the wave of laughter came groans. But any rational person knows those groans were disingenuous attempts at saving face just in case there was fallout. And there was! So congratulations, groaners. Your comedy insurance policy paid off.
On Friday, after the Web blew up with anti-Cook sentiment, the comedian tweeted an apology: “I am devastated by the recent tragedy in Colorado & did not mean to make light of what happened. I made a bad judgment call with my material last night & regret making a joke at such a sensitive time. My heart goes out to all of the families & friends of the victims.”
Now, I’m not saying I haven’t reacted over-sensitively to the occasional joke or comedy sketch, but I’ve never asked anyone to apologize for it. Cook is a fucking comedian. He’s not a news anchor; he’s not a politician; he’s not your parents. His job is to make people laugh. And that’s what he did on Thursday night. He made a room full of people laugh. And those who laughed aren’t evil for doing so. They’re human.
And if you think for a moment, that simply because Cook (once again, a comedian) doesn’t feel for the victims of the shooting as deeply as everyone else does or that he doesn’t understand the weight of seriousness the incident carries, then you are the silliest goose of them all.