Dane Cook may be a comedy superstar with chart-topping albums and sold-out arena shows, but at the beginning of his career he was simply a young comic starting out in Boston alongside a fellow newcomer named Patrice O’Neal.
“I started with Patrice,” Cook tells IFC. “Patrice is part of my graduating class. Our roots are in Boston. We were new comics together and I watched Patrice develop into what I feel is one of the greatest comedy voices ever.”
With frequent appearances on “Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn” and VH1’s “Best Week Ever,” O’Neal quickly garnered fans of varying backgrounds, breaking out of the box that sometimes inhibit black comedians. Cook, for his part, wasn’t surprised by O’Neal’s ability to reach different groups.
“When you talk about somebody who is in that Pryor-esque place where you connect across any audience, Patrice had a blunt force trauma about him, where he was so hilarious but at the same time so painfully truthful,” Cook recalls. “I remember one of the first jokes he ever told that I thought was absolutely brilliant. He said, ‘I’m a big guy. I wear a big size. But at the same time I’m a big black man. I’m very opinionated. Basically I wear Malcolm XXL.’ The guy was just truly a force to be reckoned with.”
Cook also found himself relying on O’Neal for career direction, looking at his friend with a reverence usually reserved for older comics espousing age-gained wisdom.
“Not only did Patrice bring incredible laughs to people, but he had insight,” says Cook. “Patrice gave me some of the greatest advice of my life. There are moments that I had sitting with him at the back of the old Nick’s Comedy Stop in Boston, that I felt like direction-altering moments with him. For the family and all his friends and fans, we’re all so sorry and at the same time we are immediately looking and trying to share our favorite Patrice stories and I hope that people will just continue to YouTube him. His comedy is timeless.”
At the end of the day though, O’Neal’s loss is felt on a more personal level by those who knew and loved him. “It’s a huge gaping hole in the comedy world today and I will miss him as a performer, but mostly as a friend,” says Cook.
Leave your own remembrances of Patrice O’Neal in the comments below, or on Twitter or Facebook.
Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.
Posted by Luke McKinney on Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television
The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.
Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.
1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.
2. IKEA Heights
IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.
When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.
Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.
5. Too Many Cooks
Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.
6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace
Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.
7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV
Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.
8. Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…
9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.
10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show
The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.
11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)
Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.
And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”
12. Acorn Antiques
First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.
13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show
In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)
14. The Spoils of Babylon
Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.
15. All My Children Finale, SNL
SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.
Why do all comedians want to be dramatic actors? Does drama pay better than comedy? Is getting an Oscar that insanely awesome? Does working the comedy club circuit make you so dead inside that you become incapable of feeling or even portraying human joy? Whatever the reason, Dane Cook has been far too successful a comedian not to try his hand at dramatic acting. And here comes that try: “Answers to Nothing” from “Dead and Breakfast” director Matthew Leutwyler. The trailer:
I know the title and all, but I hope the movie has answers to something, because the trailer left me with a lot of questions, namely what exactly this movie is about besides Cook’s crossover to quote-unquote “real” acting, which actually looks promising. The answer (to nothing) follows, courtesy the official plot synopsis from the trailer’s press release:
“Dane Cook leads a stellar cast, including Elizabeth Mitchell (‘Lost’), Julie Benz (‘Dexter’), Zach Gilford (‘Friday Night Lights’), and Barbara Hershey (‘Black Swan’), as a man struggling with his own infidelity in ‘Answers to Nothing.’ Set against the backdrop of a missing girl case, the film tells interweaving stories of several Los Angelenos trying to do the right thing.”
That’s a little, but not much, more to go on. All we be revealed (and, presumably, be revealed to provide solution to not very much at all) when Roadside Attractions releases the film on December 2.
What do you think of Dane Cook’s acting chops? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.
Is it us, or have the oddballs, weirdoes and assorted dreamers and schemers of Portlandia started to seem a lot more mainstream lately? When the IFC series, masterminded by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, first premiered in 2011, no one could have guessed how omnipresent its world of mustache wax and artisanal knots would become. We laughed at these fringe weirdoes and their weird ways, and then one day we found that our mustache was in need of wax. Nothing would ever be the same.
As we approach the premiere of Portlandia‘s sixth season this Thursday, January 21st at 10P, we are starting to realize that the whole world has basically become a giant Portlandia sketch, and we’re just living in it. The food is good. The bike lanes are bountiful. And everything has a bird on it. (Or at least a bird emoji.) Here are just a few ways that Earth has become Planet Portlandia.
10. Singles Yoga
While aerobics classes may have been the singles bars of the ’80s, and 7-11 parking lots the singles bars of the ’90s, nowadays, if you’re really looking for a place to meet someone and you’re completely over Tinder, you head to your local yoga studio. In-between Pranayama breathing and downward dogging, you might notice that there are a lot of cute, single people writhing around in see through clothing. It’s like a nightclub, but instead of bottle service, there’s pregnancy meditation and cucumber water. Portlandia was one of the first to notice that inner peace might not be the only reason yoga studios find themselves so packed these days. There’s even Singles Speed Yoga, for those of us that are ready to skip the chakra alignment and just cut to the chase already.
9. Bike Lane Anarchy
As Portlandia so memorably pointed out, there have been militant bike riders for as long as there have been bikes. But as cities fight to go more green, and bike lanes become part of the everyday norm, these “cyclopaths” have started to multiply. With their weird clip-on shoes and smug attitudes, they love to tell us how they’re saving the world one bike ride at a time. Less pollution. Less traffic. And the thing that really annoys us is, they’re right. Now there’s even a real life Spike, doing his duty to take a stand against jerkwad cars getting in his bike lane.
Casey Neistat, a New Yorker and popular YouTuber who was ticketed for riding outside the bike lane, actually went to war with the city over cyclist rights. As you’ll see in the video below, Neistat’s assertion that “I’m doing the world a favor” could basically have come from the mind of Fred and Carrie.
8. No Spoilers!
There is perhaps no greater threat to our modern way of life than the spoiler. There you are, minding you’re own business, when BOOM, someone blurts out that Haley Joel Osment sees dead Bruce Willises. (Oh, um, SPOILER ALERT?) You take a step back. Try to regroup. Pretend likes it’s not a big deal. The movie’s supposed to be good. It doesn’t really matter if you know the ending. But deep down, you can feel it. You’re life will never be the same.
Portlandia poked fun at our modern spoiler-averse culture with a perfect season three sketch that runs through spoilers for everything from Game of Thrones to Boy Meets World. But while most of us just go through life in a constant panic, ready to run at the first mention of Making A Murderer, someone out there has been doing the hard work of fixing this problem. That’s how Spoiler Shield came to be. With this iOS and Android app designed to block TV, movie and sport spoilers, you never have to worry about learning anything you don’t want to. Well, unless you leave your house. But why would you do that? You have so many shows to catch up on!
7. Putting Birds On Things
Putting birds on things helped put Portlandia on the map. But it also created a monster. No longer could birds be content to sit in their nests, or on power lines. Now they found themselves everywhere.
Portlandia loves all things artisanal, from light bulbs to movie theater popcorn, but even they would be hard-pressed to come up with what one Brooklyn bodega had to do when faced with an exorbitant rent increase. If you ask your typical hipster about gentrification, they’ll have a long, reasoned, possibly passionate take on the subject that highlights all of its evils, while conveniently leaving out that they live in an overpriced condo their parents outbid a local family of eight for. It’s a complicated issue. Just ask one bodega in the Boerum Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, who, facing a stiff rent increase, decided that pickling the heck out of something might be its last line of defense.
In an effort to raise cash fast, the store began labeling everything they sold as artisanal, and doubling the asking price. $15 for a “slow roasted” Five Hour Energy drink. $21.99 for a “pasture-raised flash-frozen teriyaki bowl.” Or just $24.97 for a one-of-a-kind Dickson’s Farms Condom.
The irony of having to use irony to afford living in a neighborhood overtaken by people who can only communicate through irony is, well, ironic. But, happily, the plan seems to have worked, as Jesse & Co. MarketPlace is still open for business.
5. Babysitters For Grownups
While adult babysitters sound like something you’d find in the Casual Encounters section of Craigslist, there’s actually a place to send your wayward spouse if they need a little looking after. Preschool Mastermind is a month long nursery school for grownups.
If you’re over the age of 18, and want to “re-learn the basics and experience the magic of life as it was originally intended,” this might be the place for you. Based, unsurprisingly, in Brooklyn, the school charges anywhere from $333 and $999 to help you get in touch with your inner child by playing games, conducting show-and-tell and having naptime. There’s also field trips and a class picture day. Although, were assuming every day is Instagram Day at this school.
4. Binge Watching
We all remember when Fred and Carrie sunk into a Battlestar Galactica K-hole, forfeiting a functional life in a desperate attempt to find out who the Final Five Cylons really were. Since that episode aired in 2012, binge-watching has gone from a funny novelty to a cultural tidal wave. Like a fever dream, you start an episode of Jessica Jones or Todd Margaret and wake up in your own filth ten hours later, filled with regret and frozen pizza.
While Fred and Carrie may have been the first to point out our obsessive new way of watching TV, it didn’t take long for the world at large to catch-up. Collin’s Dictionary even named binge-watching the 2015 Word of the Year. We’re just impressed they got around to naming anything, considering they haven’t even watched Better Call Saul yet.
3. Kiddie Music Snobs
Portlandia loves to dissect the disturbing degrees to which parents involve themselves in their children’s lives. Whether it’s helping them collect signatures for an important cause, or getting them accepted in a preschool at any cost, Fred and Carrie have always had an eye on the competitive parenting culture we now live in. That was certainly true with their Shooting Star Preschool sketch, in which a parent/teacher meeting turns into a music snob-off. But honestly, should a woman who doesn’t know anything about Krautrock or Neu! really be teaching your kids?
The thing is, these Pitchfork-worshiping parents aren’t that far off from the truth. There’s a whole genre of music called Kindie Rock for the discerning parent who wants their kids to sport some serious musical opinions. Full of moody rockers, hot licks and mosh pits for kids, the only difference between Kindie and their Indie Rock big brother is that their songs are more about riding the bus to school, and less about casual sex and existential dread.
Two time Grammy Nominee Justin Roberts, who got his start in the cult band Pimentos for Gus, is one of the best of the batch, creating catchy hooks and clever lyrics that sound like pop/rock hits, but with the twist that they’re geared towards the 8-and-under crowd. Let’s be honest: Barney is for babies. You aren’t a baby, are you?
2. Dumpster Diving For Profit
Dumpster diving used to be, at best, a sort of weirdo activity that one guy from high school did to help pay for his heroin habit. But like nearly everything else in our society, dumpster diving has been monetized.
Matt Malone calls himself a professional dumpster diver. While he makes a six figure salary as a security consultant in Texas, he claims that his dumpster dives earn him even more money. Most days, on the way home from work, he’ll swing by a local mall, dig through the trash, and often pull out hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars worth of discarded technology. He claims that, if he did this full time, he could earn as much as $250,000 a year.
While Fred and Carrie may have found the dirty hippies who scavenged for old watermelons and stained baby dolls, Malone has other ideas when it comes to our garbage. Maybe it’s time we wise up, and stop throwing this stuff away.
1. Canoe Dancing
And then there are things that are just too ridiculous to exist in real life…
Alright, never mind. It’s a Portlandia world, and we’re all just living in it.
Want more Portlandia? Watch a free episode from the new season right now on IFC.com or on the IFC app.