I.Â Dane Cook performed last night at the Ralph, and he is a FANTASTIC actor.Â As Cook himself would say, “Shut up.Â Hear me out.”Â Yes, he is a stand-up comedian that dabbles in movies (Some of them admittedly not so great.Â See: Good Luck Chuck), but he has a story telling ability that ranks among the greats.Â (FYI: The greats, in my opinion, include Garrison Keilor and Bruce Springsteen.)Â Here are a couple of reasons why you, too, should consider Dane Cook aÂ performance genius:
- He does stand up in the round.Â IN THE ROUND.Â Do you realize how hard it is to keep an audience’s attention and make them laugh when your back is turned to them?!
- He uses his entire body to tell a story.Â He’s standing, crouching, jumping, drunkenly hobbling- Cook has an understanding of physical variation in story-telling that few top-notch performers possess.Â (So does Springsteen.Â I saw the Boss live in New Jersey, and he played an entire 5 minute song on his guitar while sinking into and holding a deep lunge.Â And he’s in his 60′s!)
- Cook stays completely connected to his audience during the whole show.Â He performs almost every night, but he tells his stories like it’s the first time.
- Cook can play more than just “slightly chauvinist fraternity guy.”Â Have you seen the drama, Mr. Brooks, starring Kevin Costner?Â The movie is mediocre, but Dane Cook convincingly plays against type by portraying a troubled amateur photographer.Â I haven’t seen Dan in Real Life for awhile, but I remember him giving an admirable performance in that movie as well.
I received a BFA in acting from NYU, and last night, at Dane Cook’s show at the Ralph, I relearned what it takes to be a great performer.Â Thanks, Dane Cook for caring about your audience enough to give us a masterfully executed, heartfelt show!
II.Â North Dakotans make FANTASTIC audiences.Â The crowd was so responsive to Cook and his fellow comedians at the Ralph last night, he kept saying things like, “Grand Forks!Â Who knew?,” and promised to come back to Grand Forks.Â I had a similar experience at a Bret Michaels concert in Fargo.Â (Yes, I attended a Bret Michaels concert.Â I enjoy all types of “art.”)Â Michaels told the audience that he always plays tour dates in Fargo because he loves the crowds.Â For a mostly Lutheran population with a fear of audience participation, we sure do pump up the energy for visiting performers!Â Maybe it has something to do with the beer stands at these two particular events.
III.Â We don’t have to import performers to enjoy great talent.Â At last summer’s 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Fire Hall Theater,Â I was blown away by the acting.Â In particular, Paul Vonasek knocked my socks off.Â The man can sing, dance, and act anyone else under the table.Â He was also stellar in The Producers by Crimson Creek at the Empire.Â There’s another local actor, Megan Lonski, that was in The Bad Seed at the Fire Hall last fall.Â Her acting is so real and masterful, it makes me want to take notes.Â Another of my favorite performers is Josh Driscoll, a local musician who has more talent than most professionals.Â Catch his open mic at the Hub, or watch him play with the North River Ramblers… he was born to be on stage, and he has the musical theory to match.
IV.Â So.Â Who did I miss?Â Who are your favorite local performers?Â Whose performances fill you with energy and keep you thinking about them days after the event?