Album Remarks & Appraisals:
'I Did My Best - Greatest Hits,' is a two disc offering from superstar Dane Cook. The product hits shelves and iTunes today and whether you're a new fan of Cook or someone that's been there since the small club days, it's worth picking up. All the classic bits are there. 'Not So Kool-Aid,' and Dane's reminisces about witnessing a man get struck by a vehicle. But, for the fans who already have every word Dane has ever spoken on stage downloaded to their ipods, there's ten minutes of previously unreleased material included in the two and a half hour offering.
Dane Cook is a superstar and this greatest hits album drives that point home. It's obvious that some of these routines were performed in smaller venues and others in arenas. The fact that a comedian is selling out venues usually reserved for hockey games and Springsteen concerts is startling.
Although, the amount of fans that Cook performs to may have grown the comedian's accessible personality and self-deprecating humor hasn't. The best material from five albums have found their way onto these two discs. The topics, cities and fans may all be different but the one constant throughout the entire two hours is Dane's laugh. The comedian is still laughing at his own material. That in itself is much of the reason that Cook has gotten this far.
This is the quintessential Cook collection. A great way to be introduced to some unforgettable material and the perfect way to hear all the favorites without having to hit the skip button. Cook is not an acquired taste, if you've been in public for any amount of time something on this album will be instantly relatable. Cook is a master story teller and brings every bizarre situation he speaks of to life.
"Allow me to start off this post by telling you I'm a fan of Dane Cook. Always have been. A few years ago, when Dane started gaining some crazy notoriety the inevitable happened: backlash. Huge backlash. Angry, angry backlash. So if you're one of those people who hate Cook's comedy with a passion equal only to that of the earth's magma core, well... you're not gonna agree with this review.
"I Did My Best - Greatest Hits" truly is a collection of some of Cook's greatest bits. The project spans all of his previous albums and at times it's a bit jarring to hear the difference in sound from an intimate club setting to his show at Madison Square Gardens. Of course, the classics are here: "Not So Kool-Aid" and "Heist/Monkey" still crack me up just as much as the first time I heard them.
This collection really shows off Dane's love of the English language, his mastery of inflection, and his manic energy that only comes when you're doing something you truly love to do. Dane isn't just a comedian, he's a storyteller extraordinaire. Like David Cross or Bill Cosby, the humor isn't found in the one-two setup/punch combination but in the process of pointing out every nuance of every detail along the way.
Sure, there are some tracks I had hoped would be included (I'm still a fan of his Tarantino-esque story-out-of-sequence magic he pulled in "The Wall," his Walgreen's escapade he talks about on Retaliation)but considering this project weighs in with an impressive 38 tracks - five of which are previously unreleased bits - I can't really complain.
If you're a fan of Cook's, then this is a nice way to re-visit some of your favorites. If you're not familiar with his work as a stand-up, this is a great place to start. And if you think Dane Cook is the worst thing to happen to the world of comedy, I probably haven't changed your mind, and now you hate me too." - ComedyReviews
"From the king of MySpace to "Step Brothers" punch line in the space of three years - there isn't a comic in recent memory that has suffered a backlash as quick, and as malicious, as the one Dane Cook endured. Granted, some of the barbs pointed at Cook were not unfounded; his taste in movie scripts has been atrocious (his best film: "Dan in Real Life," because he's second fiddle to Steve Carell), and the quality of his stand-up material dropped precipitously once he had become a star. But let's not forget something important: Cook found an audience because he could make people laugh. Fellow comics might deride his methods - Ron White once told us, a good two years before the backlash had gained momentum, that Cook's act is "smoke and mirrors" - but he could make people laugh.
Listen to I Did My Best: Greatest Hits, though, and you start to see what White meant by smoke and mirrors. Cook's best weapons are his sound effects and his voice. They are what make bits like "Heist/Monkey" and "The BK Lounge" so amusing ("Large fry, motherfucker!"), and without that unexpected chicken sound he does in the "Operation" bit, that whole routine is a tenth as funny. White mentioned one weakness in particular about Cook's act, and listening to this, it becomes clear: there are no punch lines. Cook is also a lover of words, and sometimes he swishes them around a few times just because he likes the sound of something, when he would be better off moving forward with the routine. Lastly, there is the decision to make this set a double-disc affair. Cook may have released a lot of material in the last eight years, but very little after his first two albums is what one would call essential, and besides, this violates one of the cardinal rules of comedy: always leave them wanting more. The bonus tracks do not save the day, either. Heck, one of them is Cook announcing that he's played in every state in the US. That's not material - that's just talking.
I Did My Best offers a more candid look at Cook's rise and fall than Cook himself may have intended. He clearly has the innate ability to make people laugh, but a few actual punch lines would do him a world of good. Still, complaints aside, we'd be remiss if we didn't tell him: thanks for the candy." - ComdeyCentral2010829569816125
Being that he's a "love him or loathe him"-type comedian, the need for a Dane Cook greatest-hits collection is up for debate, but if you're going to do it at this point of his career, do it like this, at least when it comes to the track list. I Did My Best does a great job of picking the high points of Cook's previous four albums, and presents them in an order that's not as jarring as expected, even when the audiences for these performances vary in size from comedy club intimate to stadium huge. Two discs might be excessive for the merely curious but this is right-sized for the casual fan, and if longtime Cook fanatics feel the need for a more portable collection, they're also rewarded with some unreleased material. What Cook left on the cutting-room floor is surprisingly funny but this new stuff isn't highlighted, coming at the end of disc two in the form of untitled bonus tracks. Besides some production and design info, there are no liner notes, so newcomers looking for more guidance on Cook's early discography will still have some research to do. ~ David Jeffries