Three Questions with Dane Cook about His 'Absurd' New Showtime Special
Dane Cook gambles on himself tonight in his new self-funded Showtime comedy special, Troublemaker, which marks his directorial debut. ET got the scoop from the veteran funnyman (who appeared in Disney hit Planes: Fire and Rescue over the summer) about what to expect.
How do you keep your material fresh in a career that spans over a decade?
“The cool thing about standup comedy is you're always experiencing something in your life that will spark an idea or a concept that you want to take to the stage. In each stage of my life, my career reflected where I was at. My standup in my twenties was indicative of drinking, and drugs, and sex, you know, collegiate kind of things. And then [I was] getting into my thirties and having some more serious life experiences, whether it was losing my parents, or dealing with backlash in an industry that's sometimes unforgiving. I can go and bring those things to the stage and make hay out of things that are pretty heavy duty.”
What sets Troublemaker apart from other comedy specials?
“A few things, really. This is the first one I've ever directed on my own and I did this completely separate from any corporate partnership. Two years ago I knew that I wanted to direct something, and as I started looking at my new routine, I felt like this might be a great undertaking and a goal that I've had for over 10 years. Lemme see if I can put a team together, which I did, and then the scary part which is, let me write a check. That's always the moment where you start going, ‘I don't know, maybe I don't need to direct this special after all.’ It's always a gamble. [But] my dad used to say, ‘Gamble on yourself.’"
What will surprise your fans about this show?
“I think that the first thing is, it's very light. I went through a pretty tumultuous time about six or seven years ago; both of my parents got cancer and it was very trying on my whole family. And I wanted to be there and spend as much time as I could with both of them. I mean, within nine months they both succumbed to different kinds of cancer. It really hit me hard and there were things that I needed to work on in my own life. At the time I was in the throes of making 'Isolated Incident,' which was the last special I made four years ago, and it was reflective of how I felt. It's monochromatic, and it's dark. The funniest version of morose, I think I nailed.”
“So [now], I'm feeling great, I'm feeling the best physically, mentally. I've got great mentors and people in my life. And so it feels to me like it felt when I first put out [my 2003 special] Harmful if Swallowed because I just came to it with such fervor, like youthful exuberance. And I went into this special, yes I'm a little bit older and wiser for the wear, but I think that the material is as random and absurd and observationally twisted as I've ever been. So I'm looking forward to people escaping with me for a little bit, and having a good laugh.”
Troublemaker airs Friday night at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime. Watch below to hear Dane's advice on how comedians can spin bad times into new material: