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Apt Title

Dane Cook's new CD approaches the peak of 'Retaliation' but doesn't reach the summit.

After the multi-platinum success of his double CD “Retaliation,” Dane Cook set aside his observational humor-to-a-fault stand-up comedy act for roles in movies of middling quality (although he is actually well-cast now in “Dan In Real Life“). SNL parodies aside, one wonders if moviemaking could drain him of his chops, but “Rough Around The Edges: Live From Madison Square Garden,” in stores November 13, shows he still has them, although his new act doesn’t feel quite as cohesive.

“Retaliation” certainly had a broad range of subjects, but somehow Cook’s tone and presentation on that album made them flow together more easily. The material on “Rough Around The Edges” tends to pinball in both subjects and style. “Rough” is just one CD, but comes with a DVD of the very same New York performance on the CD.

For example, to name a few tracks and how they vary, “15 Cents” suggests a more aggressive attitude for charity TV infomercials; “Benson’s Animal Farm” takes you back to a phenomenon identifiable for those with 1980s childhoods; and “Pedophiles” starts a send-up of Oprah Winfrey’s show and segues into just how many sex offenders Cook finds when looking up where they may be in his neighborhood.

These three pieces are all very funny but don’t quite top the convulsive laughter threshold Cook topped with “Struck By A Vehicle” on “Retaliation.” “Herpolie Urpolies” comes close -- a piece about Cook telling a friend other reasons why he has symptoms of what’s really herpes (and he doesn’t realize it).

It could be simply that having heard a lot of Cook now, the novelty of his delivery has worn off, or maybe it’s the more scattershot nature of the material, or maybe it’s just something indefinable that’s missing, but while “Rough Around The Edges” is good, it’s not a classic or a peak performance for Cook.




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