Recently, I’ve been binge-watching Louie. I particularly liked the episode with Dane Cook, because the two of them are comics whom I genuinely admire and they’d been involved in a controversy in which other comics accused Cook of stealing C K’s jokes. I really respect how Louis C K handled the whole thing, because I think the hate Cook has gotten from other comics is completely unwarranted and transparent.
Look… lots of comics end up with the same jokes by sheer independent origination, and lots of comics borrow and adapt jokes. The Louie episode addressed this reality well. But, to be frank, I don’t think that’s where the Cook-hating comes from, though.
Dane Cook, very much like the equally so-hipster-to-hate Vin Diesel, is the geek-who-made-good. Vin has a tattoo of his D&D character’s name, for Chrissake. You can’t get more geek than that. And, if you’ve seen Dane’s shows, you’ll remember the bit about the masturbatory fantasy that turned into a fantasy about flying around with a dragon. If that’s not geek cred, I don’t know what is.
And, when I say “made good” I don’t mean financially, although both Dane Cook and Vin Diesel have both done that. I mean “made good” as in having grown into something other than a pudgy and or skinny quasi-adult. Geeks expect to make good by becoming the next Patton Oswalt or Bill Gates. The old cliché about the nerd telling the jock that he’ll one day be rich (but still physically dumpy) and the jock will have to work for him? That’s the way a lot of geeks, nerds, and dorks think it’s supposed to work.
But, some geeks grow up to be handsome, or athletic, or some other traditional male virtue that drives traditional geek resentment.
If it’s one thing that male geeks (like so many talented male comics) find easy to hate, it’s one of their own who grows up to be considered physically attractive to women. It’s like a slap in the face to male geekdom. But, while growing up, good-looking boy geeks rarely grasp that girls find them attractive. When they do start to understand, it’s like a betrayal of the tribe.
I think male comics heard Dane’s female fans squealing with unconcealed desire* in the audience and their jealousy rose up inside to corrupt any reasonable assessment of his talent. And I think that Louis C K saw through this envy and decided to give Dane Cook a guest appearance on his critically acclaimed show to thwart this unprofessional nonsense.
* Although, to be fair, Cook has fallen out of favor with both comedy fans and women lately.