Dane Cook’s sentimental legal defense in the name of comedy muses

TMZ uploaded the 29-page defense that Dane Cook‘s attorneys submitted Sept. 16 in their attempt to keep him from getting evicted from the La Fontaine apartments in West Hollywood (a block from the Laugh Factory, as Jamie Masada explains in an attached affadavit!) because he failed to scoop his dog’s poop. Or something like that. Spoiler alert? Cook’s appeal for a stay of execution…denied. I trudged through the paperwork today, and found his sentimental defense to read more than a little unintentionally funny. Only in L.A., right? Let’s take a look at Cook’s defense, and then we’ll have a question or two for you…

"John Belushi and Steve Martin are both former tenants of the premises in which I have lived for the past 10 years; I especially wanted to live in this unit for exactly that reason. I had met with the building manager at that time…who offered me an interview and eventually the unit that John Belushi had lived in, it was my dream to be on Saturday Night Live, and to live in the unit of one of the great legends was overwhelming and after living in that unit, I felt a creative drive that I had never felt before. It’s a little bit like the superstition that athletes have, before games, about a favorite bat or shoe, or the order in which they gear up; for me, this apartment has been the place where I’ve sat and worked on my comedy routines, and I can feel, and have felt, the presence of the true greats who have lived there before me. It’s been a long road for me, in terms of developing my career as a comic, and the apartment is an inspiration to me as well as a place where I go to feel connected to the source. It’s hard to explain where comedic ideas come from; I get ideas for sketches and skits at the oddest moments, but I can say that pretty much all of my best work in the last decade has come from sitting at home and opening up to what’s there; I know that the presence of those that have lived there before me affects me deeply and provides me with inspiration."

"This, then, is the extreme hardship that I will suffer; without inspiration, and fresh, imaginative takes on life, a comic is nothing, because there’s nothing for me to give audiences, for them to relate to me and see life in that abrupt, point of view shifting way that makes people laugh. I’ve wanted to make people laugh since as long as I can remember. I was doing stand up as a kid, and it’s all that I’ve ever wanted to do. In the same way that writers can get writer’s block, comedians can easily run out of ideas and ‘stories’; I am extremely frightened that this will happen to me if I am forced to move out of my apartment, I have seen it happen to other comics, that something interferes with their connection to their creative muses, and it’s destroyed careers."

"I said above that my extreme hardship is not directly financial, although it is related directly to my ability to write, and all that I have done for the last decade and longer has been written in that apartment. It’s also that, in the end, comics don’t do comedy to get famous or to get rich, although recognition and success are important to everybody I’m sure, and certainly to me; in the end, comics work for the same reason that writers write, because there’s something inside that we want to share, in print or film for a writer, on stage or film for a comic. I ask this Court to exercise its mercy and discretion, and to understand that my hardship, although perhaps different, is nonetheless very real and extreme, and to let me stay in the premises until my appeal is heard. The emotional and mental suffering that I am experiencing now, and will experience if I have to leave, will drastically and negatively affect my life just as much as a financial or physical hardship would do."

First off, yes, Cook is relying wholly on the judge to feel sympathetic and sentimental. And that’s not going to change any legal facts in a case. And let’s put aside, at least for this moment, any of the past criticism levied against him for the originality of his stand-up act. And, of course, that last week he spent mostly on the road promoting his new movie, My Best Friend’s Girl. That film opened third at the box-office over the weekend, with $8.265 million.

And as he told the Associated Press in such a promotional interview, he’d already bought a home in the Hollywood Hills! Here’s his quote to the AP: "It’s got an energy," Cook says of the four-bedroom enclave. "It’s got
a certain feng shui. I was looking for a couple of years for the
perfect spot, never thinking I would find one. I was looking for a
place that I needed to live up to. I think it’s going to keep me
comfortable. It’ll be my little Fortress of Solitude."

But does any of this defense by Cook make sense to you as a comedian or as a comedy fan? Do you feel like your literal place in the world is tied to your ability to write funny material? Do you know anyone that Cook is claiming here that has had their comedy careers "destroyed" by getting disconnected (or evicted)? Or is this all just spin?

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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2 thoughts on “Dane Cook’s sentimental legal defense in the name of comedy muses

  1. When I would get stuck writing I would stop and go pee. One day I got the ‘thing’ that was blocking me. After it happened a few more times I started puposefully going ino the bathroom and for some weird reason, the punchline, word or plot always came to me. Now it’s just part of how I write. It’s still weird to me. Someone funnier than me is living in my bathroom.

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