Aurora Theater Shooting

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.

More from our Tech archive: "James Holmes Facebook tribute pages: Should person behind largest be sterilized?"

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts