C.J. interview: KFAN's Dan Cole, the Common Man

  • Article by: C.J. , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 12, 2012 - 10:02 PM

A grown man wearing sparkling ruby-red sneakers and a pink tutu with matching wings is not concerned about dignity.

But then, listeners to KFAN's Dan Cole, the Common Man, know he's never worried about dignity or being taken seriously, and HE'S NOT GONNA CHANGE! Those traits made the pink-averse radio personality, who talks himself from one side of an issue to the other, a natural to play Subway's Taste Fairy in a series of Nemer Fieger-produced TV commercials. The spots are airing in Minnesota, North Dakota, eastern South Dakota, parts of Iowa, central Illinois and Marquette, Mich. About the only area of Common's life he takes seriously is the time devoted to the loves of his life, Helen, his wife of "13-14 years," aka Potato, and their boys, Deuce, 9, and BBP, 6. Common is wearing a substitute pink tutu I bought from Target in my startribune.com/video with the Taste Fairy.

Q Are you becoming the Puffy Daddy of radio, constantly taking on new identities? You're Dan Cole, Common Man, aka Nostracommonus. You've been the Radio Romeo, and now Subway's Taste Fairy.

A I was also the Dream of the Everyday Housewife, but that kind of goes with the Radio Romeo thing. Oh, and I was the Flak Catcher for the old "Chad and Barreiro Show" because they would beat up on me. I'm like a chameleon. Maybe I'll start calling myself the Puffy Daddy of the FAN.

Q Whose idea was Subway's Taste Fairy?

A Folks at Nemer Fieger, the ad agency. [EVP and COO] Tom Whelan called and said I have an idea for you. How'd you like to be in a TV commercial for Subway? You've got to wear a pink tutu. We'll pay you. Let me think about this. I said OK. It was that quick.

Q What did they pay?

A Well, it's four figures. But it ain't five. A lot of people think it's a lot more. They've paid me pretty fairly. Well, I don't know, it's the first time I've ever done it. I negotiated my own deal. If we do it again, I'll highly recommend to myself that I get an agent.

Q Any chance it's going national?

A You never do know. When I watch the commercials myself, the third one is actually better than the first one. The order we did them in was [1] me dropping down, [2] the windshield wiper, [3] the bug zapper. Only have two lines in each commercial. But I felt like I really knew my character [he's laughing at himself] by the time I did the third one.

Q Remember famously saying on the radio that pink is not your favorite color, that it's not for boys?

A Coincidentally, about two weeks before I got offered the Taste Fairy job for Subway my producer started talking about men's clothes. I said, "Look, I'm comfortable with my manliness. I just don't like the color pink on men. That's a girl's color. Ian Poulter, pro golfer, wears it. Looks good on him. It looks good on Luke Donald. Some guys can pull it off. On most guys I don't think it works." Then two weeks later I'm wearing a pink tutu on television. I guess it looks good on you if they also have the color green mixed with it.

Q What if one of your sons wants to wear pink?

A That's OK. If they want to wear pink, by gosh, they can wear pink. I'm pretty comfortable with whatever my kids want to do.

Q What's been your boys' reaction to the commercials?

A They think Dad looks good in pink. They got to see the commercials before they went on TV. They thought it was the funniest thing that Dad was dressed up as the Taste Fairy.

Q Where did you get those commercial dance moves that you don't so much display as deploy?

A "Dance Fever," "Soul Train." I don't remember. The hardest one was when I was dangling from the cable. Do you know how hard it is to do dance moves when you have nothing [beneath you]?

Q What do your boys think of the dance moves?

A They think it's the funniest thing they've ever seen. They die with laughter.

Q Has the Twin Cities Gay Pride parade called?

A Not yet. Maybe they will. I was grand marshal at Woodbury Days and Oakdale, so this would be my third stint. We'll talk.

Q What's your favorite sport?

A My favorite sport to watch is football. Of the games, I think baseball is the best game. The one I like to participate in most is golf.

Q May I please hear a few bars of your legendary rant against listeners who care too much about sports?

A [That] was set up by a former colleague, Chad Hartman [now on WCCO-AM]; one of his practical jokes. We often get criticized [when] we go off the beaten path of sports. One of my favorite lines when I'd see the phone ring and [the producer at the time, The Eel] talk for a couple of seconds and hang up, I'd say: Is that a complaint? He said there were a couple of people who want you to talk more sports. Hartman heard it so he had a bunch of people in the radio station flood the phones lines. That's when I did it... [There is a lower volume reenactment on video.]

Q Do you really hate sports? That wasn't an act?

A I don't hate sports. I was just annoyed that's all people wanted to hear about, and so it was my defense mechanism. It was my Kevin Love stomping on [Luis] Scola's face [moment]. I don't put as much importance in it as I used to; I think sports [are] for kids. I was born in Detroit. The Detroit Tigers won the World Series in 1968 when I was 10 years old. For me, that was it. It's never been any better than that. I like sports, but the games start to run together after a while. It's the same thing. Different results, different players through the generations. I like a good game. It's part of my job.

Q So you don't have as much contempt for your job as it sounds?

A No. It's part of an act. I actually like watching games more now that my two boys [are old enough to watch, too]. My youngest boy loves sports. Deuce likes sports, but now he's getting other interests as well, video games and computer. The old live vicariously through them. I like that.

Q How much of your life is an act?

A Some of it is. But people who know me know how I am on the air, I am in real life. I like to make people laugh. I get that from my dad [George], and my brother [Alex] has been in stand-up comedy forever. My sister [Ann] is terribly funny. All my uncles. Somebody may say, "They're not funny." But we think we are.

Q What would you do for a living if you were not a radio personality?

A Well, I don't have a college education. Probably sales. Because I like golf so much, maybe I'd mow greens.

Q Manual labor would not be your thing?

A Isn't that a minor league center fielder in the Twins farm system? [Rim shot, please.] My dad gave me that one.

Q Envy any ESPN job?

A Maybe I envy the paychecks. I like where I am. I can talk silliness and sports. You have to pretty much take it seriously on ESPN. I like not to take anything too seriously. Raising kids, you really have to be serious a lot more than I ever had to be.

Q What would Potato say is your most annoying habit?

A Just walking upright, breathing, being in the house. Probably at night when I'm reading the paper and she's getting the kids ready for bed. She does most of the work and I keep my nose stuck in the newspaper getting ready for the next day. She also probably thinks I play golf a little too much.

Q If you were Tom Brady, how would you tell your fiery Brazilian wife to shut her yap and stop fomenting locker room resentment?

A He might have rolled his eyes and said, "Gosh, don't let them reel you in like that. You took the bait."

Q What's your most unpleasant encounter with a fan/non-fan?

A When the Wolves were in the playoffs, that's how long ago it was. They had a media section down front and a couple of guys one section over were yelling, Common, Common who you rooting for? Finally I pointed at my hat; I had a Timberwolves hat on. They kept trying to get my attention, using some four-letter words. I went up to the two guys and said, "I'm going to go get a security guy." I started walking away and one guy grabbed me. I knocked his hand away and grabbed him. Then I went to get a security guard and sat back down. The two guys who were hassling me must have convinced the people who were around it that I was the one who started it and I threw a punch at the guy. So the Wolves security guy said, "You have to leave." I said, "Oh, come on, I didn't throw a punch." They said, "Here are your choices: Leave on your own or we're calling the police." So I left on my own. I'm standing outside Target Center saying, "How did that just happen?" And I watched the rest of the game from the Loon Cafe, I think. It was a pretty good running bit on the air. The two guys ended up calling in. We called them Punk Number One and Punk Number Two. We ended up getting along, going golfing. That was the encounter that was the worst.

Q Do you regret not going to college?

A Oh yeah. People say, "If I could do it all over again I wouldn't change a thing." C.J., if I could do it all again I would change so many things. I was a party guy; that's what I did when I was in high school. I wish I [had] stayed with the straight-and-narrow guys. I quit high school in my senior year [eventually earning a GED]. So I didn't go to homecoming, dances, Sadie Hawkins. It's not the end of the world, but I would have liked to experience that. I hope my boys will go to college. In all seriousness, I don't think you can get very far without a college degree. I would love for them to go. They both apply themselves in school a lot more than I did. In junior high is when I started not being a really good student.

Q Is wearing women's underwear part of your turn-on?

A Well, you saw me in a tutu. What'd you think?

Interviews are edited for clarity and content. C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or cj@startribune.com. More of her attitude can be seen on Fox 9 Thursday mornings.

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