Well, that’s one way to deal with online fury about your May-December (April-December? March-December?) romance.  While 50-year-old Dane Cook’s engagement to 23-year-old Kelsi Taylor is “creeping people out” (in part because she was 18 when they started dating and “just friends” before that), Cook has been promoting his new pay-per-view special with word that the relationship is actually making his comedy better.

Hey, she’s even a joke editor!  "I was just trying some material out on her the other day where I was like, ‘Hey, I think I have maybe my first what it's like to be married joke,'" he told E! News. "So, she got the exclusive. We tried it out and she said, ‘I approve of that. That's a good one.'"

We don’t know exactly which jokes Kelsi stamped with her approval, but we’re guessing ones like this knee-slapper from his new Above It All special:

I’m 49, my girlfriend’s 23.  She was doing her homework and I said, “Where have you been all my life?”  And then I remembered -- she wasn’t even alive for the first 26 years of it.

That’s one way to lean into a controversy. Jokes like that would spark outrage on their own -- the fact that the punchlines are, you know, reality just makes them hit harder.  Is Cook just oblivious to the fact that outraged tweeters are getting out the pitchforks?  

No, he’s not.  As he quips in Above It All, “I’m so happy about my relationship.  I bet the Internet’s happy for me, I should check.”   So what’s Cook up to, exactly?  Three theories:

He’s so deliriously happy that he just doesn’t care what the world thinks.   If you follow Cook on social, that’s definitely the story he’s selling to the world.  We don’t have any reason to believe he’s not madly in love, so maybe this is just a comic who, in the words of Ron Burgundy, “just wanted to shout it from on top of a mountain.”  Cook doesn’t have a newscast, so pay-per-view specials are the next best thing.

He’s going to make the jokes before you can.  What’s the best way to avoid being the butt of the joke?  By demonstrating that you’re in on the gag. It’s the self-deprecating comic’s most reliable trick -- get the audience on your side by acknowledging your defects before the hecklers get a chance. It’s a great ice-breaker on stage but will it work here? There’s a not-so-subtle difference between “I know I have a big nose” and “I know I’m 50 years old and my girlfriend is getting ready for prom.” 

It’s a page straight out of the double-down handbook employed by Matt Walsh and others -- deal with online scandal by embracing it rather than apologizing or running from it. 

He’s a marketing genius.  We probably don’t need to remind you that Cook famously harnessed the power of the Internet -- specifically, MySpace -- to become one of the biggest comics on the planet before most comedians knew how to check their AOL mail. 

Is he at it again?  No one has paid much attention to Cook since Louis CK accused him of stealing jokes, but dude is trending again.  Is he playing the “all publicity is good publicity” card, knowing that talking about his half-my-age wife will inspire plenty of online chatter?  

We paid for the special.  So maybe Cook is on to something. 

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Top image: Dane Cook YouTube

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