On November 8, Dane Cook performed his Isolated Incident tour at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. The smell of candied nuts permeated the air as underdressed college girls filed into the arena arm in arm, giggling to each other and giving the “superfinger”, Dane Cook’s signature gesture, to everyone. Soon, Dane would take the stage, entertaining his crowd of devotees with his wit and charm, comically accentuated by his uncanny sound effects and exaggerated movements. His performance never falls short of dynamic.
Smaller cities like Raleigh are not guaranteed stops for headlining tours, and when they are included in the lineup, the locals normally thank the talent by way of a packed venue. On this occasion, clusters of people were connected only by empty chairs, making it hard not to notice the impact of the economic recession. With a half full venue, the seat designation on your ticket meant little. There were plenty of other empty seats much closer to the stage, and many availed themselves to “seat jumping”.
The lights dimmed in the typical “shows about to start; sit your ass down” fashion and an odd, if not unfitting, choice of intro songs, Danzig’s heavy metal anthem, “Mother”, started playing. The opener, comedian Robert Kelly, came out to lackluster applause, but after a few short minutes, his self-deprecating humor won over the eager-to-laugh crowd. The majority of his act was new material, but it rapidly progressed to a repertoire of a highly sexual nature. Not prudish in the least, I didn’t expect to feel so utterly violated and uncomfortable, but Kelly went past the nuances and innuendo that color most comedians sexual skits, and went full on groping crotch shot to the camera. After succeeding in making me feel like I needed a shower and a couch session with a highly-qualified therapist, Robert Kelly dismounted the stage.
What happened next was a type of security maneuver that must have come straight from the Secret Service’s playbook. A fully choreographed routine ensued where security men came out two by two in a sort of drum core parade march. They took their places along each side of the entrance aisle, standing arms outstretched, hands locked, in an “arms around the world” pose. The idea was to create a barricade to prevent anyone from reaching out and touching and/ or groping Dane Cook. (Or maybe he was just worried about contracting H1N1?) With security in place, out came Dane like a prized fighter punching the air, waving, and running in his adorably pigeon-toed way to the stage.
After watching any of his previous comedic performances, his HBO special Vicious Circle or his Comedy Central Presents for example, you come to expect a certain level of energy from Dane Cook. And he lives up to it each time. He reached the stage and began prowling it as he does, very animal-on-the-hunt-esque, targeting each section of the arena one joke at a time. His humor is very relatable, perhaps what gives him such a devoted following. His jokes poke fun at the kinds of things everyone thinks or does and turns the common into highly exaggerated examples of utter ridiculousness.
In his deep voice meddled with falsetto he begins, “So here’s my theory slash hypothesis on…” and continues for a good hour with the ease of a seasoned comic.
“That is so funny!”
“Ha… Wait, I heard that before…”
It seemed for every bit of fresh material, there were at least one or two skits that he pulled verbatim from his other shows. Audiences rely on new jokes when they come to see a live performance or else they could stay at home and watch Comedy Central. Dane… we expect more! Maybe it was more obvious that the material was recycled because the group of girls next to me kept repeating his jokes in loud, chortling echoes.
Ok, so the sparse crowd cast a depressing damper, the opener made me squirm in an altogether unpleasant manner, and Dane tried to pull one over on us with his old bits… Not the recipe for a can’t miss event, but for $40, I got a lesson in sociology, a few hearty laughs, and an evening out with friends.