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Paulette Tobin, Forum Communications Co., Published November 17 2010

Comedian Cook energized by fans

Like most entertainment tours, the one that has comedian Dane Cook bouncing from city to city may seem like madness to non-traveling, non-showbiz types.

Tuesday, he’ll be in Wichita, Kan., then Thursday at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, followed by Nov. 19 in Des Moines, Nov. 20 in Denver and Nov. 21 in Las Cruces, N.M. Between his Thursday show in Grand Forks and the final gig of this tour Dec. 4 in Reno, Nev., he’ll perform 11 shows in 17 days.

Cook described it as “kind of running and gunning” in a telephone conference call with reporters Oct. 28.

“We’re spending most of the day doing sound checks, checking in with the crew,” Cook said. “Making sure everything looks, sounds, works, and then after the show, we’re pretty much driving through the night to our next destination.”

Cook’s show at the Ralph will begin at 8 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.) Thursday and will be the first show in the round at the arena, with seats on the floor and the lower bowl only.

Tickets for the show cost $36.75 and $71.75. For tickets or information, go to the Ralph Engelstad Arena, any Ticketmaster location or call (800) 745-300.

Cook, 38, is known for selling out shows with his observational comedy and high-energy style. He has appeared in Grand Forks once before, in a show in 2005 at UND’s Chester Fritz Auditorium.

Cook’s last tour, “Isolated Incident Global Thermo Comedy Tour,” was seen by nearly a million people and earned Cook accolades in Forbes magazine as one of the most successful tours in recent history.

‘Comedian phenom’

Named a “comedian phenom and icon” by Entertainment Weekly, Cook has maintained his reputation as one of today’s most prolific stand-up comedians while also distinguishing himself as an actor in films like “Dan in Real Life” and “Good Luck Chuck.”

On Nov. 23, Cook will release his sixth album in seven years, “Dane Cook: I Did My Best.”

“I still feel like the 18-year-old kid that stepped on stage in 1990, so it’s kind of a strange reminder,” Cook said. “But I listen to all this material that I had made up ultimately five albums and a couple of comedy specials over the past 10, 22 years.”

Picking the materials also had an “end of an era” feel, he said.

“So, the greatest hits is highlighting what I think is some of my and my fans’ favorite moments over the last 10 years, and yet at the same time, I think it’s kind of closing a chapter on, ‘OK, here’s what I did,’ ”

he said.

Time on stage, on TV and in movies hasn’t stopped the sometimes “visceral” reaction he gets from some of his audience.

“I find the more that you have detractors and people pounding you, it’s kind of good for everybody. It keeps you in everybody’s discussion. It certainly has helped me continue to find fans because I can’t tell you how many e-mails I’ll get where somebody says, ‘Oh, somebody told me they didn’t like your stuff,’ or, ‘I heard a DJ saying that he didn’t care for you. I listen. I’m a fan.’ ”

How will this tour be different from his previous shows? Good question, Cook told reporters.

“I don’t know. I mean that in the best possible way,” he said. “It’s such a free-flowing performance this time.”

His work of the past three years was more methodical, he said. He was sharing more vulnerable moments, and he took a lot more care to stop and let the cameras get in close, he said.

“Now it’s like the reins are off,” he said. “The great thing is now I can use tools that I’ve learned early on in my career, whether it’s physical comedy or irreverent or witty, wry, vulgar, doesn’t matter. I can jump into different styles of comedy, and yet through my experiences and maybe – forgive the word – but maturing in standup, I can even kind of just stop and let the story tell itself.”

Paulette Tobin is a writer for the Grand Forks Herald