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Nov. 22, 2007

Cookin' it up at the Verizon Center

by Jenny Williams, Online Weekend Editor
The Verizon Center is filled with uncontrollable anticipation on Nov. 16 as fans jostle for room to sit, security guards sweat in the heat of the crowd and cameramen scurry to set up for perfect shots. The lights slowly dim and one man exuberantly takes the circular stage that is plastered with his popular "Sufi" symbol. This man automatically becomes the center of attention in the sold-out venue. He is one of extraordinary talent, multifaceted jokes and the charisma of a young and goofy child. This man can only be Dane Cook.

In the past, Cook has performed across the United States in tours such as "Tourgasm" and "Vicious Circle." His unique charisma and ability to personalize his performances to his audience have made him popular nationwide. As in previous shows, at this year's "Rough Around the Edges" tour, Cook displayed his notorious stage gestures, inane voices and generally ridiculous attitude to have the audience gasping for air and crying with laughter until they could no longer contain themselves. With his exaggeration of real life situations with sexual humor and his exploitation of hot issues such as religion, Cook took his hilarity to a new level.

Cook's main technique as a comedian is to tell stories about everyday life and exaggerate them to the point of absurdity. This standard would kill comedy routines if overused, but in Cook's case, his facial expressions, his use of unusual diction to create laughter and his very active movements on stage turn this tried formula into varied and memorable performances.

In "Rough Around the Edges," Cook covered issues from childhood frustration to mannequin sex and Civil War flashbacks. For the most part, Cook's jokes were funny, but some proved to be downright disappointments. Where is the humor in his mother repetitively telling her children that they are her "babies" and do not have to help with Thanksgiving dinner? Cook soon redeemed himself though by telling a bizarre joke about a man killing his wife with a frozen turkey. This sounds simple and a bit weird, but his impersonation of a "wife killer" gallivanting across the stage evoked a reaction from the audience that would be nearly impossible to attain if attempted by another comedian.

In his "encore," Cook poked fun at religion, telling a story about a man sneezing on him and explaining why he could not say "God Bless You" despite being an atheist. Cook continued the joke by exaggerating atheist beliefs to utterly ridicule them.

Although Cook's "Rough Around the Edges" performance was filled with laughter from the audience, it failed to live up to the pedigree of shows such as "Vicious Circle." Some jokes were repeated while others were missing the appeal that made them popular in shows like "Tourgasm."

Despite some of the minor downfalls of the show, Cook proved once again that his jokes will not only have his audience laughing for days, but will most likely be recycled by all of his fans. His outrageous stage actions and the multiple personas he took on while telling jokes set Dane Cook apart from other comedians.



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