Dane Cook shocked, amused and offended many in the audience of the 2009 Teen Choice Awards when he prefaced his category announcement with an off-the-cuff joke embarrassing High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens, who was in the audience. Cook specifically called directly out to Hudgens in the audience before delivering the slam referencing a new set of private self-taken nude photographs of the 20 year old actress allegedly from 2007 when others were originally leaked on the internet.
Hudgens innocently took the bait and raised her hand so the cameras could find her and accepted the attempt to shift attention toward her with a curious but welcoming smile, wondering what the gag was going to be.
Once the “punchline” was delivered however, Hudgens reacted gracefully to the cruel trick as Dane exclaimed “Girl, you gots to keep your clothes on! Phones are for phone calls, girl.”
Cook, who hosted the show in 2006, added that he decided to address “the elephant in the room” only minutes before he presented Robert Pattinson and Megan Fox with Choice Hotties awards.
“I planned it about 20 minutes before I went out there,” Cook added. “Because I like to be on the cusp of fear.”
The comedian brushed off the attack with the expected “hey, it was just a joke” defense, telling Access Hollywood “Mostly I just wanted it to be funny,” leaving us to wonder what the rest of his intent was after one takes away that “mostly” aspect. “That’s the best part about being a comic, when you go, ‘Maybe I can say the thing that everybody is kind of feeling and nobody [is saying].’ The elephant-in-the-room moment. So, I’ll take it, I’ll take the hit. It’s OK.”
The problem of course being that the “hit” Cook refers to is non-existent other than perhaps some disgust by his and Hudgens fans, but disgust at a comics attempt at humor can hardly be called a “hit” as it is standard fare for the profession.
Here at OliveSpin, we support controversial humor and performances that have a questionable or mean spirited bent, however we categorically condemn public humiliation on any level, and making the gag in such a venue as the Teen Choice Awards with the target of his attack present in the audience, unable to respond and going out of his way to spotlight Hudgens beforehand makes Cook an asshole here.
He should have apologized, if only for singling Hudgens out before taunting her from stage over such an issue.