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What happened to Dane Cook?

He's been absent from the spotlight for years now.

Dane Cook
Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Remember Dane Cook?

The once sought-after comedian largely disappeared from the spotlight following his heyday in the mid-2000s. But back when we mid-level millennials were polishing off high school, Cook was a household name. He was starring in comedy hits and touring the globe, all while continuing to pump out comedy albums. 

Following a few minor controversies and plenty of criticism, however, Cook largely disappeared from the spotlight. Sure, he’s cropped up here and there in minor projects, but the 51-year-old’s sharp fall came so abruptly it took many of his fans off guard. He used to be one of the biggest names in comedy, and now he’s completely absent from the spotlight. How exactly did the once-popular comedian go from household name to near-forgotten relic?

Dane Cook’s fall from grace

Back in the early 2000s, everyone was quoting Dane Cook jokes. Remember the pickle bit? I certainly do, and family gatherings featuring the briny treats still occasionally feature a shout-out to the long-forgotten comedy staple. But only occasionally, since we’ve got far more modern — and less problematic — comedians to quote these days, and many of those old Cook jokes simply haven’t aged well.

Some of that is due to Cook’s brand of comedy, which was already teetering on the precipice of offensive back in 2007. These days, its downright inappropriate in many cases, so it’s no surprise people aren’t lining up to hire the disesteemed comedian. The same can be said for many of his lackluster film roles, which — while potentially career-making at the time — fell short for most viewers, even those who flocked to theaters specifically to see him. He simply wasn’t leading man material, and the combination of Cook’s over-the-top, fratty style and bad acting failed to impress even the most forgiving audience members.

But none of that quite measures up to the primary culprit behind Cook’s abrupt fall from grace. That can be attributed to revelations that he seemingly stole some of his content from other prominent comedians, an accusation that tanked his reputation in the early 2010s. The man boldly stole several skits from Louis C.K. himself — one of the biggest names of the time. He’s also been accused of stealing from Demetri Martin and Joe Rogan, and his audacity in stealing from such well-known names instantly sparked rumors that his other material was “borrowed” from smaller comedians without the platform to call him out. 

That was enough to tank his reputation completely. Even those who question the accusations against Cook saw him in a different light, following the backlash, and he’s rarely been seen since. He has cropped up in the rare straight to TV movie or tour appearance, but his star never again reached those mid-2000s heights.

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