Dane Cook makes light of the Aurora “Dark Knight Rises” massacre: Too soon?

Another week, another somebody’s-got-issues-with-a-joke-at-The-Laugh-Factory. Sigh.

Jamie Masada has maintained genius-level status for decades in terms of drumming up publicity for his Laugh Factory comedy club in Hollywood. At the same time, however, his club often finds itself at Ground Zero for fans recording the stand-up acts and/or taking such offense at a joke or at a comedian that it becomes “news.”

This week, it’s Dane Cook in the comedy crosshairs. What? Poor choice of words?

Cook has decided, less than a week after a man shot up an Aurora, Colo., cinema — killing many and wounding many more — that he has a joke about it. That, in and of itself, is not beyond the scope of reason. Aside from the cops and emergency medics working a grisly scene (who joke privately among one another to cope with the sadness of such a situation), comedians are the first to make light of tragedy in front of public audiences. “Too soon!” is a refrain that comes up a lot, sometimes with mock irony from other comedians.

Here is Cook’s joke.

“So I heard that the guy came into the theater about 25 minutes into the movie. And I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie. The movie is pretty much a piece of crap. Ah, yes. Spoiler alert! And I know that, you know, if none of that had happened, I’m pretty sure that somebody in that theater, about 25 minutes in, realizing it was a piece of crap, probably was like, ‘Ugh, fucking shoot me.'”

You can skip the first 15 seconds of this video, which only serve to promote the audience member who recorded the live comedy show, violating protocol. Roll the clip.

Did Cook cross the line? Is there ever a line in these situations to cross? Or is it fine, so long as he wasn’t telling this joke in Aurora or the Denver metro area? After all, Cook’s joke wasn’t targeting the victims so much as it was The Dark Knight Returns movie. And the Laugh Factory audience, despite being taken aback by the punchline, reacted approvingly. But still. Hmmm.

I guess knowing that a comedian, Caleb Medley, is one of the shooting victims makes me wish that Cook showed a bit more compassion and would have held out longer before unleashing a joke like this. But that’s just me.

As Cook wrote a month ago in his promoted Twitter feed: “We can agree to disagree as long as you know I’m telling everyone you’re wrong.”

What do you think?

UPDATED: Dane Cook has apologized for his joke about the Aurora shootings during The Dark Knight Rises. Cook wrote via Twitter:

“I am devastated by the recent tragedy in Colorado & did not mean to make light of what happened. I made a bad judgment call with my material last night & regret making a joke at such a sensitive time. My heart goes out to all of the families & friends of the victims.”

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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5 thoughts on “Dane Cook makes light of the Aurora “Dark Knight Rises” massacre: Too soon?

  1. When else is he gonna make fun of it? In two weeks when nobody cares anymore? And most people aren’t offended by stuff like this, they think they’re supposed to be offended so they say they are.

    And I liked Batman vs. Meanman scary voice.

  2. It’s never “too soon” for a joke that helps people make light of and thereby have control over a tragedy. People are quick to jump on Cook because hating him is in vogue, it had been Louis CK making a similar joke, people (comics in particular) would have rallied around him.

  3. Comedy = tragedy + time.

    Cook doesn’t understand that. Which isn’t surprising, since he doesn’t understand comedy. Or common decency. His fans are drunken frat boys too stupid to get Andrew Dice Clay’s jokes.

  4. I listened to the above video and quite frankly, I think it is the first time I ever laughed while under the influence of Dane Cook’s stand-up material. The best I usually do is, “uh-huh, uh-huh, meh.” That joke above was actually funny and I never saw it coming.

    What I want to know is who is the Mean Comedy Mom out there that is dragging every comic before the mic and making them apologize? WTF is this? Why is this happening? This never used to happen. Did Lenny Bruce go on TV and start apologizing for his act? What the Hell is going on? Don’t tell me it is because comics are edgier now, they aren’t. There are just more with that as an only goal, probably as a public relations move to manipulate whoever that Mom is. There is a load of free press if you speak a whopper.

    In my own I’m-not-a-comic-so-does-it-matter-what-I-think opinion, I think all artists should remember that if they back track off from their art, they will be flipping burgers again in the future. If any of these apologies were sincere, they would have never said the supposed offending words in the first place. I know when I’m about to write something over the edge and give it a lot of thought before hitting the publish button, I assume any good comic does the same.

    So, my answer to your question, “Did Cook cross the line?” is: Fuck the Line.
    Oh…. hmm… can I say fuck on here?

  5. The fact that it’s very soon after the incident is by the by, someone had to go first and Dane COok thought he deserved first crack at making a joke about it. His attempt was an obvious and unoriginal joke, it’s like stamping on the face of an already dying kitten. I’d have gone for something like “I really want to go see the new Batman film, I hear it’s good, but I’m not a huge fan of audience participation.”. It’s a lot more offensive, but also a lot funnier.

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