Whoa boy, the ’80s. What a bowl of shit that was, right? Feathered hair. The Cold War. The Challenger exploding to bits. Reaganomics killin’ me, Reaganomics killin’ you.
And then there was Andrew Dice Clay. Not the part where he became the World’s Biggest Comedian, a cocky, obnoxious, free-wheelin’ juggernaut who sold out arenas in minutes. We’re talking the backlash, where America mainlined its worst politically correct and puritanical impulses and ran the fuckin’ guy out on a rail for telling a couple dick jokes. That part was weird. And, in retrospect, embarrassing. Because, really, no big deal.
Well, now Dice is back. And this week he returns to the TLA, the site of the HBO special that first saw him rocket into the stratosphere, The Diceman Cometh. We caught up with the Elvis of Comedy and talked tenacity, Entourage and—well just read the fuckin’ thing and fuggedaboutit.
Everyone knows you’re the Elvis of Comedy, but you’re also very much the Rocky Balboa of Comedy, bouncing back time and again after most in your position would’ve been down for the count. Talk about your own personal Clubber Langs, your Ivan Dragos, your Apollo Creed’s—moments in your career where you faced massive adversity—and how you got through it. What about your character gives you such tremendous drive?
Anybody hit as hard as me would be down for the count “absolutely,” as they say in the Rocky movies. The media, women’s groups and the gay rights groups all pulled together to knock me out, so to speak. They went after me so hard that my movie Ford Fairlane was pulled out of theaters on opening weekend. But I kept fighting and touring through it all. I was raised by good people who kept me grounded. My tough guy persona is based on the guys I grew up with in Brooklyn. Yes, they were tough guys, but they were good grounded people much like myself.
You filmed The Diceman Cometh at the TLA, where you’ll be performing this week. It could be argued that the TLA and Philly is where Dice really became DICE, a worldwide global phenom and the world’s biggest comedian. Philly seems to have always had your back, and shown you much love. What is it about the city and the people that makes it such a great fit for you? Do you have a fondness for the city?
Yes, Philly definitely helped and has always had my back! My ex-fiance who is now my opening act, Eleanor Kerrigan, is from South Philly and is also one of the best female comics in the business! The city’s great, filled with hard working people who really love to come out and laugh. I love Philly and have spent a lot of time there throughout my career. They come out to have a good time and they do! Philly is my second home next to Brooklyn!
The PC lightning rod you became in the late ’80s/early ’90s was so goddamn intense. How did it feel and how did you get through it? What did it teach you about life and about yourself?
How I got through it was sticking to who I am. I’m a comic who makes light of difficult situations and if people get offended by that, well fuck ’em! Never change who you are! That’s my motto.
People always ask about the difference between onstage Andrew Dice Clay and offstage Andrew Clay Silverstein even though it seems pretty obvious that Dice is an exaggerated, pumped-up version of your real self and the Brooklyn badasses you grew up with. After 20 years of answering what the difference is, how tempted are you to tell someone to kindly fuck the fuck off when they ask that?
There are always two sides of a story/person. Onstage, I say whatever I want in a funny way. Offstage, I’m a loving father who only wants the best for his two boys. It’s my job to make people laugh, and it is also my job to be responsible for bringing up great kids. Believe it or not, I wouldn’t tell them to fuck off, I’d say to them, “Would you ask Keith Richards or Slash this stupid question?”
You’re great on Entourage. Tell us how it came about and how closely the Dice you play on the show is modeled after the Real Dice. It does seem like you’d take a noble stand against douchebag executives who refused to pay you what you’re worth. Did you consult with the writers about any of the plot points?
I ran into an old friend who I hadn’t seen in about 15 years, Bruce Rubenstein. Bruce asked me why I was never on Entourage as he kept playing with his phone. I got annoyed at Bruce for playing with his phone and snapped back at him, “It just never happened, now can you put your phone down!” Bruce replied “Well [ Entourage creator] Doug Ellin loves you.” “Really,” I said. “How do you know?” Bruce said “I’m emailing with him right now and he wants a meeting.” And the rest is history, my friend. Doug wrote most of the shows and is a really big fan who knows me and my history really well. He really nailed a lot of it. The character is very close [to the Real Dice] and yes, I do know my worth and will demand it!
Back to Rocky a bit: Your website’s tagline is “The Undisputed Heavyweight Comedy King.” Make the case for the doubters with the hard facts: albums sold, stadiums filled, asses in seats, record sell outs. Brag a bit.
Everybody knows that I sold out [Madison Square] Garden two nights in a row. But they forget, I played over 300 concert arenas. I did the Spectrum here in Philly, three sold-out shows. (It will be missed.) I played the Rose Bowl in L.A. to a sold-out crowd of about 100,000 people. I got a wall full of gold and platinum albums. No one comes close to what I’ve done with the my albums. OK, maybe redneck/Fifth Grader Jeff Foxworthy, but everything else is untouched!
Andrew Dice Clay performs Thurs., Sept. 15, 8pm. $39.50. Theater of Living Arts, 334 South St. 215.922.1011. tlaphilly.com