July 27, 2012 at 3:52 PM ET
Comedian Dane Cook took the stage at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles Thursday night and joked about the massacre at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater less than a week after it happened.
The shootings left 12 dead and 59 hurt at a midnight screening of the new Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises."
"So I heard that the guy came into the theater about 25 minutes into the movie," Cook says in a clip on YouTube. "And I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie, but the movie is pretty much a piece of crap ... yeah, spoiler alert.
"And I know that if, ya know, none of that would have happened, I'm pretty sure that somebody in that theater, about 25 minutes in, realizing that it was a piece of crap, was probably like 'ugh, (expletive) shoot me,'" Cook said.
A mix of groans from the audience turned into laughter and cheers before the audio clip ends.
Some commenters on YouTube tear into Cook for joking about the incident so soon, if at all.
"What a hack. He's trying to legitimize himself by do edgy, 'dark"' stuff, but he doesn't have the goods. Stick to your frat boy-slaying crazy dude persona, Dane," writes ChillyCheezItz.
Others defend the comedian and his right to joke about what happened.
"In his defense he was talking about the movie sucking ... Find humor in pain. I love his comedy. Always have always will," says TheSteffeec.
Last week, Playboy model Tricia Evans beat Cook to the apparent punchline with a tweet on the same day as the shooting. "I hear the new Batman movie is really 'to die for!' Too soon?" she wrote. Deadmau5, the electronic dance musician, was among those who later blasted Evans in a tweet of his own. A debate over the merits of her comedy ensued and Playboy finally stepped in to make sure no one thought the magazine was writing her material.
Backlash over Cook's joke also comes on the heels of another comedian feeling the heat for what he said during a stand-up act. Daniel Tosh, of Comedy Central's "Tosh.O", apologized earlier this month after getting slammed for a rape joke directed at an audience member, also at the Laugh Factory.
Last summer, actor/comedian Tracy Morgan famously went to great lengths to calm the storm after joking about how he would "pull out a knife and stab" his son if he was gay.
Update, 5:53 p.m. ET: Cook issued an apology on his Twitter feed, saying that he regrets telling the joke.
"I am devastated by the recent tragedy in Colorado & did not mean to make light of what happened."
"I made a bad judgment call with my material last night & regret making a joke at such a sensitive time. My heart goes out to all of the families & friends of the victims."
What's your take on Cook's joke? Should some subjects be off limits? Is it just too soon, or should people lighten up? Discuss on Facebook.