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BW Grills Dane Cook

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Sometimes fame is a nasty bitch. The bigger a guy becomes, the harder he may fall--or the harder some people may try to bring him down. Rock 'n' roll comic Dane Cook has been plagued with as many lows as he has enjoyed highs: He has been flogged for suspected plagiarism; his half-brother was convicted of embezzling millions from the comedian; TMZ.com reported that Cook's landlord was threatening to evict him for not curbing his dog. On the kiss-his-ass flip side, he is a triple threat--comic, musician, actor. His 2005 comedy album, Retaliation, debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200, making him the highest charting comedian in nearly three decades. Cook has been performing for 20 years and still puts butts in thousands of seats on arena tours, like the one he is currently on, which brings him to the Idaho Center on Friday, Dec. 3.

When 38-year-old Cook started his career at the age of 18, it was partly in response to a childhood lived in a cloud of social anxiety. Bullies could smell his fear.

"I had my share of run-ins with some scary characters in my day," Cook told BW. "You have to remember that before I was this guy in the spotlight, I was a scared kid, too. I had a lot of fear. A lot of fear. I was not, 'Joe Popular.' I was not the cool kid in school ... I was in a pretty fragile place." That insecure kid did what sets many a comic on his/her career path: He used humor to diffuse situations. Cook then parlayed making a couple of bullies laugh into making thousands of new friends.

"That scared kid learned that humor is a ... great way to infuse yourself into social environments," Cook said seriously. "I found that flinging a joke from time to time when I was younger was not only kind of helping my family in dark times and keeping us a little lighter and keeping a smile on my mom's face or my dad's face in some troubling times, but it also was kind of my handshake. I couldn't even handshake. I was so insecure it was tough for me to even do that, but I could say something amusing and kind of break the ice. And I've been breaking ice for 20 years now."

Cook marks that 20-year history with a brand-new best-of CD, I Did My Best: Greatest Hits (Comedy Central Records, November 2010)--which includes previously unreleased material--an aggressive touring schedule and a continuation of his longtime practice of connecting with his fans via Myspace.com, Twitter and Youtube. Some people are still going to want to bring Cook down, but as he's done for the last 20 years, he'll just give his detractors the SuFi and get right back up. Read BW's interview with Cook.

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