Dane Cook, Retaliation

Bill Wasik

By Bill Wasik

on 04.22.11 in Reviews


Dane Cook
We always liked this guy. Now we like him even more!

Retaliation is the second release by Dane Cook, the spastic stand-up whose extremely likable first record Harmful if Swallowed became a breakout success (by comedy standards, at least) in 2003. The two-disc Retaliation is even more likable, and the reason is that Cook has let himself get more ambitious with his choice of subjects; where Harmful's best jokes emanated from obscure precincts of the male imagination, Retaliation sets its sights on more universal matters — relationships, groups of friends, workplace socializing, parties, even politics (don't miss the brilliant "Abducted" from disc 1) — and yet does so with the same demented originality. As might be expected from a double album, there are some weak bits where Cook lapses into formula — especially when he stretches for "callbacks" to previous jokes in the bit or the album, a tried and true stand-up device that Cook flogs way too frequently here. (Because of this you'll definitely want to listen to both discs in order, even though the second disc is stronger.) Nevertheless, Retaliation should move Cook another step toward recognition as not merely a funny comic but a great one. Indeed, on the record Cook himself points out that "we all want to be remembered for something," though he claims already to have solved that problem — by finding a boy with an ice cream cone, smashing the cone into the boy's face, and then instructing him, "You remember me forever."