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Aurora theater shooting joke makes Dane Cook first stand-up to play the tragedy for laughs

As we noted in our collection of James Holmes memes, bad-taste attempts to mine chuckles from the Aurora theater shooting have been proliferating on the fringes of the Internet. But last week, Dane Cook, one of the country's best-known stand-up comedians, waded into this territory, too, via an on-stage joke that struck a false note with plenty of people beyond his immediate audience. Hear it below, and see a sampling of the Twitter backlash.

During a gig at the The Laugh Factory, a Los Angeles comedy club, as reported in the Entertainment Weekly post linked above, Cook said, "So I heard that the guy came into the theater about 25 minutes into the movie. And I don't know if you've seen the movie, but the movie is pretty much a piece of crap.... Yeah, spoiler alert. And I know that if none of that would have happened, I'm pretty sure that somebody in that theater, about 25 minutes in, realizing it was a piece of crap, probably was like, 'Ugh fucking shoot me.'"

Granted, some people at the Laugh Factory tittered, while others reacted more negatively -- and the latter response was amplified once word of the gag began to circulate. That prompted Cook to tweet the following statement:

I am devastated by the recent tragedy in Colorado & did not mean to make light of what happened. I made a bad judgment call with my material last night & regret making a joke at such a sensitive time. My heart goes out to all of the families & friends of the victims.

His mea culpa didn't win over this particular Twitter user:

Cook did get support from fellow stand-up Josh Homer....

...but this tweet from New Hampshire radio figure Steve Boucher is more typical.

At one point, Cook seemed primed for mega-stardom. But that window no longer is as open as it once was -- and with this one failed attempt at humor, he may have slammed it down on his own fingers once and for all. Listen to the bit here.

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