A knack for firing off cutting-edge, observational humor at a hyper pace took Dane Cook from small comedy clubs to the forefront of modern-day standup comedy in the 2000s. Born on March 18, 1972, the Boston native spent his teens studying the routines of past and present comics, honing the skills that would eventually help him issue the highest-charting comedy album (2005's Retaliation) in nearly 30 years. In 1998, a somewhat inexperienced Cook attended an open-mike event hosted by David Cross; he had no intention of taking the stage that night, but when Cross called out for "Earnest Glenn" and no one answered, Cook suddenly had a change of heart and presented himself as Glenn. The short set went extremely well, and thanks to the real Glenn's absence, Cook found the confidence to take his act public.
Cook strengthened his standup skills by learning the art of improv with Al and the Monkeys, a group he has described as being "like most improv groups, but funny." His solo act eventually became a local favorite and earned enough positive press to attract attention from several late-night television producers. Appearances on David Letterman's and Craig Kilborn's late-night shows followed, and in 2000 Comedy Central invited Cook to helm his own episode of Comedy Central Presents. From here, Cook's résumé filled up quickly with television appearances on The Tonight Show, Crank Yankers, and Suddenly Susan. He also enjoyed small roles in several movies, as well as a cameo in the music video for Smash Mouth's "All Star." By the time Cook released his debut album, Harmful If Swallowed, in 2003, he had already become a household name among dedicated comedy fans. The album greatly boosted Cook's profile, however, garnering platinum sales and lofting the comedian to full-fledged celebrity status.
Two years later, Cook's sophomore release, Retaliation, debuted in the Top Ten of the Billboard 200; the double-disc album went gold six days later and reached platinum status within six months, making Cook the highest-charting comedian since Steve Martin. More movies roles followed, including Employee of the Month, Mr. Brooks, and Good Luck Chuck. After releasing two humorous pop singles, neither of which saw much chart success, Cook issued his third comedy album, Rough Around the Edges: Live from Madison Square Garden, in fall 2007. His 2009 effort, ISolated INcident, was recorded in front of a much smaller audience and featured more personal material from the comedian. I Did My Best: Greatest Hits followed in 2010. ~ David Jeffries & Andrew Leahey