Few entertainers in history have stirred up more controversy than Andrew Dice Clay did in the 80s and 90s. Members of the media and certain advocacy groups often described his comedy act as misogynistic and obscene. Despite the bad publicity that came in abundance—Dice was still able to achieve remarkable things as a stand-up comic.
Clay views “The Diceman” as an alternate personality that he conceived as a way to titillate an audience. His alter ego resonated so deeply with fans that the comedian was able to sell out venues across the United States—including Madison Square Garden two nights in a row.
The Brooklyn native was a comedy juggernaut until his controversial routine eventually alienated him from show business. The Diceman has returned to the spotlight in recent years on TV shows like Vinyl and in successful films like Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine.
This career resurrection has allowed him to tinker and experiment recently with the Dice character. “It’s interesting to see me now. I make it very personal now. I am more self-deprecating about getting older and falling apart piece by piece. Dice never did that before but now I am a lot older. I like doing material like that. People in the audience relate and they laugh. Misery loves company. People realize they aren’t alone,” says Dice Clay about his stand-up act today.
His newest project, Dice, debuts on Showtime this April 10th. The show is a semi-autobiographical project that focuses on an out of luck stand-up comic that moves to Las Vegas with his family in an attempt to regain his past glory.
I spoke to Andrew Dice Clay about his current acting career and his new show, Dice.
When you were at the height of your popularity as a stand-up you were known to say outrageous things and a lot of critics and fans felt nothing was off limits for you. Did you have boundaries back then for yourself in terms of the things you would talk about or the things you would say?
I get mad at comedians that say, ‘Nothing is sacred.’ I don’t like when comics make fun of death or disaster. When lives are lost and comics try to make it funny…I know the family members of the people that were lost would not find those jokes amusing. I don’t like going there. If you want to talk about sex or blowjobs or eating a chick’s box—that’s fine. But, when someone dies of a horrible disease…I don’t find that funny. I don’t see the joke. Maybe other comics do but they have to live with it. Anything I said sexually…I don’t regret it…it’s just jokes. But, I try to leave people that are hurting alone.
With projects like Vinyl, and the upcoming Dice, do you feel like your career as an actor is in the best place it may have ever been?
Definitely. I am finally getting to work with some of the great directors and I am getting great roles. It’s something I always wanted to be able to do.
You have often talked about how the Dice character you used on stage was a performance. Did being a stand-up for so long and using that Dice character help your acting career?
When I first came to LA as a young actor I was getting on the stage as a comic. But, it was never about comedy for me—it was about honing my craft. Instead of going to acting school, I figured I should get on stage every night of the week and develop myself as a performer. Comedy is the hardest art form there is. There is no band. There is no director. There is no producer. You fail, or do well, based on the words that come out of your mouth.
Has your passion for stand-up comedy remained the same? You are doing so much in the world of acting now—has that world taken some of your passion for comedy away?
What I love about the Dice show is when I am on stage performing it’s just one side of Dice. It’s the leather jacket. It’s the foul mouth. It’s all sexual. When we put together the show I wanted to make sure we showed the heart of Dice. It’s not a one-dimensional thing—we are showing this guys life and what he goes through. To play Dice in a TV series is exciting for me because I can hit more dimensions. I still love stand up comedy…it is something I love. I never wanted to be a comedian but I still love it. Stand up was an accident in terms of me doing it. But, I love it and I have influenced generations of comics.
Where did the idea for the Dice show come from?
After I did the Woody Allen movie I met with every producer in town. I met with Bryan Furst and Sean Furst (executive producers of Dice) and we just talked about what we could do. When I did Vinyl with Martin Scorsese…I recorded this thing on my phone where I purposely tried to annoy Scorsese…I don’t even know him well. I got that on my phone and it’s as funny as could be. I showed this to Bryan and Sean and I said, ‘This is a show, Dice Ruins Everything.’ They brought in Scot Armstrong and he fleshed out the idea. He built the show around this former comic that lives in Las Vegas and is gambling to make a living.
Honestly, I paid for my son’s album using the black jack tables in Las Vegas. We used my gambling in the show. When times are tight…there isn’t much extra stuff you can do. I have a knack for black jack. I can win. I can lose. But, when I win…I win a lot. When I won I would then call my son and say, “book studio time.” It’s a hybrid of my life. It’s a great acting job because I can show all the levels of my life.
Did you learn anything about yourself by re-visiting aspects of your real life on Dice?
I don’t need to gamble anymore. I can go to Vegas now without gambling because I am making a living again. When I got the money for my son’s album I was done with gambling.