Friday, May 24, 2024

Dane Cook performs at Comic Relief ’06 in Las Vegas. A joke this week about the Aurora, Colo. shootings has not gone over well. (Photo: Daniel Langer)

There’s no question which Cambridge celebrity made the big news this week: Dane Cook, the Cambridge-born, Arlington-educated comedian and actor who thought the world was ready for a joke about the Aurora, Colo., shootings. The attack, which killed 12 people and injured 58, took place July 20 during a late-night showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Cook was joking about it just six days later at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles.

The joke:

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. Yea, spoiler alert. I know that if none of that would have happened, pretty sure that somebody in that theater, about 25 minutes in, realizing it was a piece of crap, was probably like “Ugh, fucking shoot me.”

The news was first reported by, of all venues, The Daily Caller, the conservative website founded by pundit Tucker Carlson, which reported that the “comments regarding the shooting were met with groans that morphed into loud laughter and cheers.”

Outrage followed, though, and Cook apologized by tweet Friday afternoon:

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

With people reacting so strongly to the sensitive nature of the material, less attention has been paid to the joke itself, the foundation for which is so weak that it makes the joke’s inappropriateness stand out even more — meaning the idea “the movie is pretty much a piece of crap.” Metacritic gives the Christopher Nolan film a 78 out of 100, citing only two negative reviews out 45 forming the average; things tilt even more heavily in favor of the film at Rotten Tomatoes, which gives it an 87 percent ranking from 262 critics, while a hefty 93 percent of 397,473 audience rankers liked it as of Saturday afternoon.

It runs the risk of imagining we can read the mind of Cook, who could legitimately have thought the movie was “crap” and that the audience would agree with him — that people excited enough to attend a midnight screening of the third film in an auteur-driven series would suddenly find it terrible enough to groan “Ugh, fucking shoot me” at the prospect of sitting through the whole thing — but it suggests Cook just really, really wanted to make a Colorado shooting joke and had to stretch just to find a premise for it.

Bad judgment indeed.

Mindy Kaling continues to make headlines as well, but more positive ones. This Buckingham Browne & Nichols graduate writer-actor is riding excitement over her Fox sitcom “The Mindy Project” into all sorts of territory, talking about everything from her Indian heritage (“It’s really exciting, you know, with Danny [Pudi, on NBC’s “Community,” and Aziz [Ansari, on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation”] in their shows and “The Good Wife” [co-star Archie Panjabi] and things like that … It is a cool time for Indian actors”) to whether women are funny (“It’s just beneath everyone by having it be a debate”) and getting notes on writing from Aaron Sorkin (“We have very similar personalities even though we’re very different. He’s a great guy and he came to the [’Mindy Project’] table read and he gave great notes”). She even got a shout out from a site called The Weekender for almost singlehandedly (ha) legitimizing nail art.

“I attribute the resurgence of the trend almost entirely to actress Mindy Kaling and the cheeky ladies behind HelloGiggles, who feature a ‘Nails of the Day’ section on their website,” Weekender correspondent Stephanie DeBalko writes.

But the real news isn’t even that Kaling gets at least two more episodes as Kelly Kapoor on NBC’s “The Office” — it’s that “The Mindy Project,” which starts Sept. 25 on television, gets a two-week free stream online starting Aug. 27 on Hulu, and several other sites, according to

Ben Affleck, meanwhile, has been off with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Child Survival Call to Action conference about child mortality (organized by the United States, Ethiopia, India and Unicef) and founding an organization called the Eastern Congo Initiative to reduce child death rates in Africa, according to The Stir. He’s also been boosting breastfeeding. “He’s a dad. He cares. He uses the power of his celebrity for good,” the site’s Michele Zipp writes.

In more Hollywood-style concerns, the Terrence Malick-directed romantic drama “To the Wonder,” starring Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Javier Bardem and Rachel McAdams, is to screen at the Venice International Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival in September, according to The Statesman. And “Argo,” Affleck’s third effort as a director, is to screen out of competition at Spain’s San Sebastian International Film Festival, also in September, says. Affleck also stars in the movie, a recounting of how the CIA got hostages out of Iran during its 1979 revolution by posing as filmmakers making a science fiction epic.

“To the Wonder” doesn’t have a U.S. release date, according to, but “Argo” should be here Oct. 12. Affleck himself is busy with Justin Timberlake in Puerto Rico filming “Runner, Runner,” in which a businessman is caught up in the world of offshore online gaming.

Matt Damon also continues to make news offscreen, saying at Comic-Con in San Diego this week that Democrats and Republicans are failing to answer public “fury” over nationwide financial injustice. The quote The Associated Press disseminated about the coming election:

I’d be shocked if [Mitt] Romney won. You know, I think [President Barack] Obama is the clear choice. But I’ve said before I’m really disappointed in him, and I am, particularly because of the banking stuff. He so misread that. That sense of unfairness — the sense that we don’t have a country anymore when people don’t feel like they have a chance, like it’s going to be fair. … If people feel like the deck is stacked against them, then they stop playing by the rules. Because why play by the rules? The game is fixed, right?