Dane Cook, Harmful If Swallowed

Bill Wasik

By Bill Wasik

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Harmful If Swallowed

Dane Cook
The rare comedy album that’s even funnier the second time.

Just at the moment one suspects that straight-ahead, observational comedy has finally croaked its last, along comes some genial fellow to make one grudgingly admit it isn't so. With the drift-off of Jerry Seinfeld's faux-naif stand-up/TV empire — the fall of the house that "What's the deal with…?" built — it seems like the most vital comedy has been either absurdist (i.e., Conan, Mr. Show and their orbits) or political (from David Cross 'solo standup to The Daily Show). Dane Cook is neither, but it's almost impossible to listen to his CD without cracking up, and many of the tracks are even funnier the second time — rare for a comedy record. Part of what makes Cook, a Boston native based in LA, so enjoyable is his delivery: the aggressive, almost hectoring tone with which he offers thoughts that are alternately self-deprecating and retarded. His are the standard preoccupations of masculinity, and though his jokes occasionally lapse into typical boy-comic hack, for the most part he finds new corners of maleness (shark attacks, NASCAR accidents) to poke around in. He even manages to land a decent dick joke — when, on the subject of ill-advised statements made in bed, he admits to once having said, "Aw, yeah, my dick feels like corn."