A little more than 20 years ago, it seemed you couldn't go anywhere without seeing someone do an Andrew Dice Clay impression. The foul-mouthed, chain-smoking, pompadoured self-proclaimed "Brooklyn bad boy" had scrapped and fought his way from small, dingy comedy clubs to become the most popular comedian in America — and the most controversial. While simultaneously selling out stadiums everywhere, the artist formerly known as Andrew Silverstein found himself branded public enemy No. 1, facing an increasingly politically correct America that often didn't appreciate his barbed jokes about gays, minorities and women. But that was then and — as Dice himself might say — he's over here now.
Fresh from an acclaimed acting comeback on the final season of Entourage, and a successful comedy tour, Dice is enjoying a career revival with many projects in the works, including — believe it or not — a New Year's Eve special. In anticipation of his return to the Andiamo Showroom on Saturday, March 24, we caught up with the Diceman for a few minutes and discovered that, even after all these years, he is still uncensored, unpredictable, and unbelievable.
Metro Times: So, I hear you're doing a New Year's Eve comedy special for Showtime?
Andrew Dice Clay: Yeah. It's really exciting. I just did this bus tour in the South and I haven't done anything like that in over a decade and the crowds are just unbelievable. My opening acts, who have been with me for years, all turned to me and said, "It's happening all over again." It feels just like 1988, the way the crowd reacts. Their energy is just through the roof. When I do those [nursery rhymes] at the end, they do 'em like I just did them on the Rodney [Dangerfield] special last week [Dice's first nationally televised appearance from the late '80s —Ed.].
MT: Just over 20 years ago, you were the most popular comic in America, but as we all know, you attracted a lot of controversy due to the content of your act. But now almost no one protests your shows. How do you think America has changed since your heyday?
Clay: Well, my career took off right when the whole political correctness thing started, and that was one of the reasons why I was a lightning rod for all these activist groups, but now people are so sick of being politically correct. When I come up [on stage], I do it the way I wanna do it; it's the only way I know how to perform and the only way I want to perform. People are so happy about it because I'll talk about anything. I do get asked questions, like, "What did you think of the Tracy Morgan thing?" I could give a fuck about him or if he was gay himself. Who gives a shit? But the comedy stage is the last public place where we're supposed to make comedic satire out of what the world is. If you try to censor what comics do onstage, that's just wrong. I went through that time in '89-'92 where I asked myself, "Why am I being attacked like this?" But I survived it and now I'm hammering away. When people see that comedy special, they'll understand why I call myself the Undisputed King of Comedy. When you come to the Andiamo, you'll understand.
MT: Since you brought up Tracy Morgan, in your act, you've used a lot of racial and gay slurs. Where is the line drawn on making jokes about race or sexual orientation? I mean, you saw what happened to Tracy Morgan and Michael Richards.
Clay: I think if it's not done in joke form it's going too far. I wasn't there for either of those two events, obviously, but it's through the course of a comedy act. I just don't believe in censoring a comedian. You go into a comedy club, you're paying to see the guy onstage. And I also think a lot of these hecklers are looking for their 15 minutes of fame so they make a much bigger deal about it than it really is.
MT: What is your view on gay marriage?
Clay: Hey, you know what? I don't give a fuck what they do. It's that simple to me. No one has the right to tell anybody who they can and can't marry. Before I married my wife, I had such a feeling for her, that even though I've been through a few marriages, I never gave up on that concept of being so in love that you want someone to share your name and your life with. The same stands for gay people — they have feelings too. That's the bottom line. But am I allowed to go onstage and make fun of it? Yes. It's always been a good target. Y'know, I'm from Brooklyn. Targets are targets. Unless you want to talk about the flowers in your back yard, you have to talk about what people do.
MT: You seem to surround yourself with very strong women. Your wife Valerie has her own business, your ex-fiancé Eleanor [Kerrigan] is a former wrestler. How did it make you feel when everyone was accusing you of hating women?
Clay: Well, it was stupid. When I'm onstage, I never say anything about hating women — I'm talking about sexuality. I'm honest enough to talk about what people do behind closed doors. Instead of them taking it for the jokes and the cartoonish paintings I would put in their minds, they would just say, "Oh, he hates women." The women's groups, the NOW organization [National Organization for Women], Gloria Allred — women like that just need a good fuck. She never had a guy like me; maybe she should go to Brooklyn for a while. I don't give a fuck what they think of me, trust me. I've been through it.
MT: I know you stepped out of the limelight for a number of years to raise your sons. I heard you once went off on someone for swearing in front of your kids. Is that true?
Clay: Yeah, I did. That's where adults are stupid, they just will use any language today around anybody. When I'm offstage, I actually don't really curse that much.
MT: What's interesting to me is that some of the raunchiest, most politically incorrect comedians out there now are women — Sarah Silverman, Kathy Griffin, Lisa Lampanelli — and they're talking about a lot of the same topics that you talked about back in the day. What do you think about that?
Clay: Well, I think I busted down the doors for everybody else. It's great that they're out there doing it. It's like when Elvis came along, there were groups that were trying to stop him from shaking his hips, but he opened the doors for real rock 'n' roll all the way to today. There wouldn't have been a Led Zeppelin, a Guns N' Roses without Elvis. It's like with rap. If the Sugarhill Gang hadn't come out with "Rapper's Delight," today we wouldn't have Pitbull, Diddy, Eminem. Speaking of Eminem, he should come to the show.
MT: Since you brought up Eminem, is it true that you were almost signed to Shady Records?
Clay: Yeah, that's true. We met a couple of times and back then I didn't have the heat I'd had in the early '90s, but he wanted to produce seven albums for me. He came over to my house, we had a barbecue, he's just the greatest guy and the No. 1 rapper in the world.
Andrew Dice Clay performs at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at the Andiamo Celebrity Showroom, 7096 E. 14 Mile Rd., Warren; 586-268-3200; andiamoshowroom.com; $25-$75.
Jason Webber is a freelance writer. Send comments to [email protected]