Dane Cook and the Volatility of Crowds

People like to laugh. More importantly, however, people like to laugh together. Who then, is more susceptible to network effects than stand-up comedians? We judge for ourselves what we find funny, but we also confer with each other as well. We test the crowd to see whether or not we are all in agreement that a comedian has the talent and material to keep us in stitches.

Dane Cook put himself at the mercy of the crowds when he used social media aggressively to bolster his following. By reaching out to the massive audience network of myspace in the early 2000’s, he rode a tsunami of proliferation to become the first comedian to have CD go platinum. His career seemed to be forged out of the same precious metal as his album until the same machine that put him on top became the engine of his downfall. This article discusses a change in his creative approach that moved from energetic, yet affable, self-deprecation to unfunny braggadocio. In the language of networks, he might have departed from the second equilibrium to an unrealistic appraisal of the percentage of the population that accepted him as being funny. As a result, the crowd themselves changed their appraisal of his appeal amongst the rest of the crowd. He became an easy target of hackery accusations and his career plummeted.


Does this make sense? Perhaps others might have a different opinion of how this applies to the material?

2 thoughts on “Dane Cook and the Volatility of Crowds”

  1. I definitely feel that things such as stand-up comedians are affected by network effects. However, it’s almost more of an indirect effect than a direct one. Music seems similar: you receive an inherent benefit from listening to music based on how much you enjoy it, but you receive a greater benefit when many of your friends listen as well. You can then exchange music, go to concerts together, and discuss your favorite artists. While you don’t require an increased audience for compatibility, there is an almost indirect effect of popularity on entertainment sources.

  2. BRAVO! Stand-up, especially when live, relies on the external network effects. If a few loud hyenas in the front row are cracking up at Dane Cook, and you’re in the balcony, you might start laughing too just out of the peer pressure. Once he spread past the MTV crowd, Dane Cook started getting accused of stealing jokes (because he did). I think we can expect Daniel Tosh to soon join him in obscurity.

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