Andrew Dice Clay: Smaller than Life
Peter Heyneman | May 13, 2011 | 9:00AM |

If Andrew Dice Clay is a punchline, he’s also the set-up, and these days he’s the callback too.

In the late 80s the dude defined shocking persona comedy, selling out massive stadiums like a rockstar. If Bobcat Goldthwait was obviously doing a high concept character, and Sam Kinison was obviously just being Sam Kinison, Dice occupied this strange middle world where he began as a normal guy, an impressionist named Andrew Silverstein, who created this character for the stage which then became his entire personality and an industry unto itself. The thing about Dice in those days was that you (even if you were a kid) could never exactly tell whether he was subtly mocking the kind of meathead guy who calls all gay people fags and talks incessantly about blowjobs, or if he was just unapologetically pandering to them. Though he’s still telling variations on those same jokes, and still being Dice all the time, you still can’t say for sure what’s real about his stage show, which continues, sometimes disastrously, offstage in public, and presumably from the front door to the bedroom as well. But even at his most offensive, like calling the National Organization of Women “a bunch of dykes,” it’s easy to tell that he isn’t at all truly hateful towards the groups he mocks or even specific individuals. Compare his riffs on how slutty women are these days with David Cross’ diatribes about rednecks and you’ll find genuine affection only in one of those routines.

In a way, Dice today should be as beloved as Rodney Dangerfield was by the comedy scene in the early 90s. Sure he’s a little bit old-fashioned, but dammit if he doesn’t still make you crack up hard just on pure audacity. Like the hair metal bands whose fashion, attitude and sexual antics he’s often emulated (and topped at times) he may be appealing to your baser instincts, but it’s always out of a sense of pure fun. He just wants to make you laugh, and whether you like him or not afterwards, well, that’s up to you, you pig you.

He’s rarely broken character, and don’t expect him to do so anytime soon, least of all in this interview. We spoke right as he is in the middle of shooting for the newest season of Entourage, in which he is playing himself obviously, a development that spurs him to call it a comeback several times over the course of our conversation. He certainly popped off some jaw-dropping epithets for women and gays, but something about him always remains lovable, almost sweet, especially as he compared himself to Lady Gaga and called the alternative comedy world a bunch of unshowered bums. We spoke on the occasion of him coming to DC (to the Arlington Drafthouse this weekend) and even though it was 4 in the afternoon, I’m pretty sure he was just waking up. It’s good to be the Dice. I’m glad he’s back.

Andrew Dice Clay:  I’m trying to wake up and my wife is throwing Dice t-shirts on me.  I got a brand new wife – she’s decided for whatever reason to be my wife – but she made some t-shirts to wear on the road and they’re very cool.  I haven’t made merchandise in like, years, so she’s excited about them…

BYT:  Did she make them?

ADC:  No, we came up with the designs together.  She has her own clothing line called “Beauty is Pain,” so she helps with the ideas and stuff.

BYT:  I was actually going to ask you about your love life, but…

ADC:  Her name is Valerie.  Don’t spell it wrong, because she’ll—she’s Latina, so she’ll get mad at me.

BYT:  How’s it spelled?

ADC:  V-A-L-E-R-I-E

BYT:  Oh, normally.

ADC:  You know how they are.  Or maybe you don’t.

BYT:  Women?

ADC:  Yeah, women.  She’s, you know, my number one wife right now.  She’s looking at me, she’s laughing at me.  It’s hard to concentrate on you, if you saw what she was wearing.  Let me tell you something about these girls, the ones you’re married to…

BYT:  I’m not married, no.

ADC:  Well, the ones you’re going with.  Get something where they wake you up with just what they wear.  It’s always like, the neon colors. She’s wearing these, like (off phone) I can tell him, right?  She’s wearing these boy shorts, hot pink and sneakers, waking me up telling me she wants to go to the gym.

BYT:  After awhile though, doesn’t she start wanting to wear ratty sweatpants?

ADC:  No, I love the way she is.  That’s why I married her.  You know what I mean?  She ain’t no whore – except for me. She’ll get on the stepmaster and I’ll get on the treadmill and I’ll just sit there for an hour staring at her.  You know those girls I been with… the grey sweats or the brown, where it looks like they’re blending into the earth?  I have no reason to get out of bed.

BYT:  You’re a lucky man, Dice.

ADC:  You gotta be happy.  See, nobody listens to me.  I’m telling you.  You gotta be happy when you wake up in the morning and look at what’s next to ya.  You wanna just hop on it again.  That’s how I feel.  That’s what life is about.  Because when you leave the house, it’s all misery anyway.

BYT:  Exactly.

ADC:  Because you gotta deal with people and the public. You know, out in LA, they cross the street.  These assholes, they step off the curb—this is how dumb parents are today.  They step off the curb and they don’t look both ways.  They just step off—you know what assholes people are today.  How don’t you look at cars coming at you?  At 5,000lb vehicles coming at you?

BYT:  My favorite move is when they look away.  They don’t look at you, they just look the other direction.

ADC:  Yeah, they’re trying to be like, defiant.  Like, “I dare you to hit me with the SUV!”  So when I’m home, and I wake up, there’s a reason to get up.

BYT:  Well I hear you’re doing really these days.  You’re shooting Entourage right now, is that true?

ADC:  Yes, I’m doing Entourage.  It’s gonna be a great season.

BYT:  What character are you playing?

ADC:  I’m playing myself and the last one I just shot actually had one of my real sons in it.  Max Silverstein, who is doing stand-up comedy.

BYT:  Is he still doing music or just stand-up comedy now?

D;  Well, the music he was doing was with his brother.  But now my other son is totally into the school thing.  So when that happened, Max just totally got into the world of stand-up.  And even a lot of times at the end of a show, he does a John Bonham, sort of Ginger Baker-ish type of drum solo that blows people’s minds.

BYT:  That’s pretty amazing.

ADC:  Yeah, he’s pretty great.

BYT:  He could do his own rimshots.

ADC:  He’s very committed to show business.  He always loved comedy, but when the music thing stopped for now, he totally got absorbed into stand-up.  He actually opened for me this past weekend and he just killed.  And I got the toughest crowds.  I mean, he normally does it on his own.  He has his own group of comedy buddies.  If I’m doing something kinda local, he’ll do it with me, too.  We’ll have some nice sized crowds to go in front of.

BYT:  Is he coming with you to Virginia?

ADC:  No, my ex-fiance is doing that gig with me.

BYT:  Really?

ADC:  Her name is Eleanor Kerrigan.  She opens for me all over the country for about 4 years now.  She’s just the best female comic out there.

BYT:  But she’s your ex-fiance, really?

ADC:  Yeah!  Try and figure that out, with my ex-fiance and my wife when we’re playing Vegas and stuff.  It’s a pretty crazy situation. My kids have a step-mom that is like, 3 years older than them. And an ex-fiance that dresses inappropriately in front of them.

BYT:  Well, you mentioned your son doing stand-up.  The kind of stand-up he does must be of his generation…

ADC:  He does his own thing.  He’s not like, a Dice-type of comic.  He says it’s like Seinfeld with an edge to it.  He doesn’t keep it clean on purpose, he keeps it clean because that’s the way the bit goes.  But if the bit calls for some hardcore talk, he’s not afraid to do that, either.  He’s only 20 years old, but he gets what the world is.

BYT:  But, you don’t change it up.  You don’t keep it clean if he’s opening for you.

ADC:  I do my thing.  I’m Dice.

BYT:  Clearly you haven’t become a clean comic.

ADC:  (laughs) Actually, I came off the stage Friday and he goes, “Dad, what a great set.  And it was just so filthy!”  Because that was the kind it was.  I always gear the bits that I do onstage by the kind of crowd I’m dealing with.  You can’t be a robot up there.  Those are the guys that are club hacks.  They’re just robots.  I do it the way it needs to be done once a month there.

BYT:  Has your act changed over the years?

ADC:  Well, the material changes.

BYT:  What would you say the biggest changes are between your act now and in the past?

ADC:  The whole world has changed, so you just stay current with the world.  There’s nothing different in my language of how I say things.  But you know, when I first made it, cell phones were being taken out of the box.  So, there’s all kinds of material I’d do.  It’s definitely still hard-edge and badass.  Better than anyone out there.

BYT:  I was going to ask you about comics these days.  I mean, you have people out there trying to be offensive or raw on purpose…

ADC:  That’s the thing.  Anybody can go onstage and be dirty.  You have to be funny, that’s the key.  You can say anything as long as it’s funny.  You can’t take it too seriously up there.  And people coming to see you can’t take it too seriously.  Yeah, I make people laugh hard; I’m a comic, that’s just the way it is.  And I make them laugh because I’m funny, not because I’m filthy.  The subject matter is dirty, but the pictures I paint are really funny.  A lot of comics don’t understand that that’s what it’s about.  It’s just, “I’ll be dirty and they’ll laugh.”  Nobody’s becoming a superstar that way.

BYT:  In some ways, part of the reason you became a superstar was because the general public had ever heard what you were doing onstage.

ADC:  Or the way I was doing it.  We built the wheel.  Well, I did, I added a lot of color to it.  A lot of excitement to comedy.  A lot of image.  So, I think about what I do—these comics today, the way they dress is awful.  They look like they just rolled out of bed. They look dirty, unshowered.  It’s almost like “street bum comedy.”

BYT:  Maybe that’s the new style.

ADC:  That would be a great name for a new tour!  “Street Bum Comedy.”

BYT:  All along, “Dice Man” was a character who was crafted by you.  Down to every thing you were wearing, every word you were saying.  It still is.  Do you feel like that guy, before you became DiceMan, was that guy always there are part of your personality?  Or were you like, I want to be that guy?

ADC:  I amplified my Brooklyn way on stage and put a show to it.  After Entourage comes out now, this is probably, I won’t say the last time I’m playing smaller venues and clubs.  But I’m already booking bigger theatres.  I haven’t really been out there to do that stuff.  I was bringing up my kids, that’s what was going on with my life.  But I started rebuilding my career two years ago and now I’m playing bigger theatres.  You know, when people are paying money they don’t want to see the guy next door.

BYT:  As much as you’ve always been Dice Man, do you feel like when you’re onstage sometimes and pushing the boundaries, do you ever think that you’re sort of making fun of people who have those kind of prejudices, too?

ADC:  [pause] What I do is to just make people laugh.  What I care about is giving them a complete show within that.  That’s all it’s about to me.  That they walk out and say, “What a great show!” Like, if Lady Gaga didn’t put on all those outfits, she probably wouldn’t have made it in show business.  She put a show behind her voice. For instance, I saw her special yesterday and she has this one bluesy, Joss Stone type of vocals on a song in it.  And I thought, “This girl can really just sing, no matter what,” but, to make it – what made her stand out – was her whole image, her outfits.  That really made people pay attention and then the music backed it up.  It’s the same thing with me.  It’s a big image I put with stand up comedy.  All the subject matter I talk about isn’t new; all comics talk about the same things.  But it’s how you talk about them or present them or what you look like up there that makes the difference between an okay comic and a great one.

It’s like with Entourage.  Doug Allen didn’t pick me out of a hat going, “What comic do I want to do this with?”  He’s been a fan of mine since he was a kid.

BYT:  Me too honestly.

ADC:  And the part I’m playing—I know Bob Saget did some work on there and he did a good job, but Saget isn’t Andrew Dice Clay.  He’s a cleaner image.  Not that he doesn’t curse on stage, he’s just a nice, clean cut guy.  And, you know, I’m an animal.  I’m an animal in real-life and an animal onstage.  I never became a recluse, I never lived up in the Hills where I didn’t see real life.  You know what I mean?  I’m not still living in Brooklyn, but I’m still living in the street.  I go out by myself, I don’t go out with a million body guards, I run my own errands.

BYT:  When you go out, you’re still Andrew Dice Clay, right?

ADC:  I live my life.

BYT:  Right, but you’re wearing the jacket, looking sharp all the time?

ADC:  Nah, it’s cause I’m Brooklyn.  Not during the day, I’m not in my glitter jacket, but I’m just saying I never became a recluse where I got away from people and who they are and how they think.  I’m very much in touch with the world.  I really did have to leave Brooklyn, I’ll tell you the truth.

BYT:  Do you still go back there a lot?

ADC:  Yeah, I still go.  But I couldn’t live back there.  I’m pretty grounded and when people see me there, they freak out.

BYT:  When you were getting started before you started doing standup, you were doing acting and impressions.  Have you ever considered playing a role somewhere as a totally different character?

ADC:  I like what I do.  I like acting, I like doing comedy. I wouldn’t want to play a fag in a movie.  What does that say, I can act gay? Anybody can do that.  I just look at that stuff like my material was my material.  When the Sopranos were on I wasn’t in the business then.  But, you give me a part like that and I’d be great.  When I did a sitcom and played a postman, I was brought to tears playing that postman, because I felt like one.  I didn’t grow up even wanting to be a post man.  Now, I understand the meaning of the term “postal.”  I was bored to tears.  And what was funny was that the producer actually looked like a bug.  I can’t even explain it, he looked like a big fly.  I mean, he was a nice guy and everything, but—

BYT:  He was a bug.

ADC:  Anything that I wanted to do in my career that I wanted to do always worked out.  The stuff I got talked into always failed.  All the stuff I was talked into, by brilliant managers, because it always came down to, “Know how much money you’ll make?” And then it would just fail.

BYT:  Well, if any of your brilliant managers come up with Ford Fairlane II, then you should do it, because that was amazing.  So good.

ADC:  See, I would do that.  That is something we always did talk about, me and the people I work with. There might be chance for that again, because this resurgence I’m having is getting very exciting.  It looks like things are going to get pretty crazy again, because I haven’t gone out there in a big way in years.  I’m prepared to do it and I think people want to see it.  Just the way these club audiences have been responding has been phenomenal.  I’m probably going to wind up doing like, a major tour and really getting into it again.  We’re living in a time in this country where people want to see it, you know?  We’re living in a tough time and people’s morale is down. People don’t laugh and people are so serious about themselves even, the way they’re just constantly on their phone.  Who the fuck are you waiting to call you already?  I’m trying not to do it—I don’t even have a Blackberry, I got sort of a normal phone.  And I’m always looking.  I’m going, “Who the fuck am I waiting for?”  It’s just a habit to stare at the face of your fucking phone.  I want to take a sledgehammer to this thing already.

BYT:  It’s kind of replaced smoking as something to do when you have nothing to do.

ADC:  That’s it!  Just holding, checking, looking, you shine it up.  You put it in its nice case.  They got these cases that light up like disco balls!  Come on.  Isn’t this all about making a call?

BYT:  Yeah, it’s supposed to be a tool but instead it’s a toy.

ADC:  You love it and hate it at the same time, because when you need it, its always there, but you’re always on it.

BYT:  You brought up that you’ve been accused of being hard on this group or that group, particularly women.  Now that you’re remarried, do you have a different outlook on women?

ADC:  Women today are the biggest pigs today in history.  They are just the dirtiest, nastiest slobs. I don’t know how old your chick is, but the truth of the matter is they’ve become the aggressors.  You know?  They’re upset if you’re not balls deep in them by half way through the first date!  They think you don’t like them.

BYT:  Isn’t that good?  That’s an improvement, isn’t it?

ADC:  I love it.   You know, most guys are too stupid.  Now that women act the way you want them to act, they’re like, “Oh she’s a whore, I’m not going to see her again, she slept with me on the first date!” and I go, “Yeah, so what’s the problem?  Isn’t that what you hoped for?” You know, women are acting the way they want to act now.  Years ago they would hide it in the way they dressed, the way they speak, even the way they act in bed.  Today, they’re doing the same thing, but they’re dressing the way they want to be treated and, when you’re with them, acting the way they want to act.  And you know, honesty is the best policy.  I love that.

Yeah, they leave the house in animal prints and six inch stilettos, what does that say?  I’m going to church? They’re saying I want you to hang me by my tits from your ceiling and bite my ass. You know what I mean?  That’s what it says to me anyway.  You know how mad I am about the bench seat?  You know how hard it is to find a car with a bench seat?  You gotta throw them in the back seat now.  They’re animals today, I’ll tell ya.  I’m talking about the nice girls.  I’m not saying it like it’s a bad thing.  They come to my shows today and when I tell them what slobs they are, they high-five each other!  And I’m not talking about ugly girls, I’m talking about great looking young, in their 20s early 30s, bachelorette parties, can’t show enough tit.  They might as well write on top of their cleavage, “Please stick your dick in here.” I mean that’s the attitude.  I don’t take offense to it.  Years ago they would act like they took offense to my act, now they don’t.  I’m just a comic.

BYT:  If you went back into big theatres, would you bring bands and stage sets and the whole thing again?

ADC:  I would do the Dice they want to see, that’s what it’s about.  Whatever it is I’m feeling now.  I don’t want to do exactly what I used to do. Do I do some of the bigger hits, like the poems and talking about midgets, some of the older bits that the younger kids want to hear now?   Of course I do.  But it’s like a blend.  I might actually redo the 1988, “SMADC: Suck My Dick” summer tour, I might do that over again.



BYT:  Same places, same venues?

ADC:  Yeah, that was the first tour I did.  The fans really loved that material back then.  You take pieces of that and put it in—you know, it’s like Phil Collins singing “Into the Night” or Billy Joel singing “Just the Way You Are.”  And I’m singing “Suck My Dick and Swallow the Goo.”  And they’re singing along, they love it!

BYT:  How could anyone not? Thanks for talking to me today Mr. Clay!

ADC:  I look forward to coming and I’ll see you there.

Diceman will be at the Arlington Drafthouse all this weekend–I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t go.