"I decided I'll become the Elvis of standup. I will
create that persona for people to have because it's
been done on television, it's been done in movies
... but it was never done as a standup comic. That's
why, as the career took off there were more
rhinestones on the leather, the collars were higher.
That was all Elvis influenced. And it worked."
– Andrew "Dice" Clay
Guy MacPherson: Thanks for calling.
Andrew "Dice" Clay: I've been doing these interviews all morning. I'm trying to stay on top of it.
GM: All for Vancouver?
AC: No. I got a bunch of concerts lined up, actually.
GM: Welcome back.
AC: Yeah, it's cooking, especially since this whole Pollstar thing happened.
GM: What's the Pollstar thing?
AC: Pollstar magazine is an industry magazine where concerts are listed, who's performing where, what the grosses are. Things like that. And they have an awards show. It's not televised but every promoter in the country and around the world is at this thing. And they give out awards for, like, biggest tour of the year and things like that. And my agent, Rich Super, who's actually only been my agent for a month now... This is amazing. This guy came to me with one
idea. He's an independent guy ... and over the last eight months I was with ICM, I was with William Morris. These are some of the biggest agencies in the world. And they had no strategy whatsoever. I was embarrassed to be with them.
GM: Is it that they're too big, that you get lost in the shuffle?
AC: ... For me, they just didn't work it. You have the one great meeting. There were some offers but it's just offers. There's no strategy to building the career. At least, that's what I found. ... [With Super], we had one meeting and he suggested two things. He goes, "Number one, with the material you're doing, and where you are in your life right now, I could almost see you walking out there like the godfather of stand-up dressed like the don of a family," which was funny ... [I went to a] family function two months ago with the pinstriped suit, only I said I'd have to get instead of a white shirt, a black shirt with a special tie to really give it that mafia kingpin look. So he goes, "Alright, so let's say you had that suit on and you came out at the Pollstar awards," he goes, "it might just change your entire career." He goes, "I'll work my ass off for you." But what happens is, with the bigger promoters I haven't been doing arenas. I've been doing theatres, that type of thing. But I'm looking to do ... and there's only one way to do that and that's to be in front of the industry and let them see that you're current and on the money and better than I've ever been as a performer. So he got me booked on the Pollstar awards but there was one problem. They said they didn't want me to perform at all. ...
GM: So what did you do?
AC: It was a decision I hadda make. I shouldn't have been on stage more than a minute. I was supposed to be on there to present two awards. And I actually told my agent before I went out, I said, "Look, I really don't know what I'm gonna do when I go out there." They could shut the microphone, they could put the music on, they could have security come out. There's a lot of ways to fuck with a performer.
GM: Sure. And then who knows where the press takes it after that.
AC: That's right. "A desperate attempt..." But what happened was I took the shot and just annihilated that crowd. ... Afterwards, I stood there at an after party meeting the people that own the the Staples Center, that own Madison Square Garden, promoters I've worked with in the past, promoters I've never met before, the head of the Nederlander company, the owner of CAA. I mean, just everybody was coming over to me. ... What I did, number one, the awards were dead. Nothing was happening. And I came out there and I said, "Take a shot. It's what you do."
"What I am happy about is that there is a career and that
I have the kind of self will that it takes to always stay true
to who I am as a performer and keep getting better and
keep entertaining the public. It's what I do."
– Andrew "Dice" Clay
GM: How long did you do?
AC: I was up there for about 15 minutes. I got five applause breaks. I only wound up doing bits ... [but] I got so much applause and laughs that it really stretched it out.
GM: Were the producers frantic?
AC: No, no! That's the punchline. That afterwards, the producers of the Pollstar awards came over and thanked me for livening up their show. And I'm going, it's just amazing what I have to go through. I mean, it's just always been, from the day I made it in show business, complete controversy. Like if they would have said, "Yeah, sure, let Dice do ten minutes when he comes out to present," well then, that's kind of easy. Now you just walk out. It's never easy. I mean, you
gotta gear up. Any performer that says they're not nervous is lying to you. It's nervous energy [until you get] a laugh. It's another thing when you're told "don't perform" and then I show up to the Nokia Center in L.A. I was figuring, like almost in my mind, like just a big banquet room. I wasn't picturing thousands of people. And that's what it was. It was just amazing. ... And I showed them why that for all these years I say I'm the best there is.
GM: Did you take a break from standup after your heyday?
AC: I didn't take a break from it. I just went through a lot. Like a lot of people. From a very rocky career, going up and down with that, to a lousy marriage ... you know. But while all that was going on, I was still working on current material, writing a book, because I knew the day would come that I would get that shot again. And let me tell you something, after that awards show, we're booking an international tour now because of this.
GM: Vancouver's international.
AC: I understand that. We're also talking about Australia, we're talking about London. I mean, it's just unbelievable. The Vancouver thing is unbelievable because I think they just added another show for the 2nd of May because it sold out so quick. ... Because there's work or something going on in the hotel they had to make it for the beginning of May. But I think this summer I'm also
gonna do a tour of, like, ten or fifteen cities in Canada. These are all offers coming ... What happened that night at Pollstar... And already in the States there's talk of an arena tour, with my agent and different promoters. It's really exciting. It's like lightning striking twice.
"I always geared myself more like a rock star than a comedian. It's a certain performance style."
– Andrew "Dice" Clay
GM: Do you think it's more exciting the second time around?
AC: I think I'll get to enjoy it a little more.
GM: Were you too in the moment back then? Does it take time to appreciate?
AC: What's crazy is, if you look back at any press, there was nothing like it that had ever happened in the world of standup. And the media just went ballistic. So you had the fans loving Dice. It's not like I just did Madison Square Garden, I played just about every sports arena in the country. And most of them I would do two and three nights at a clip. So you're talking
anywhere from 45-60,000 people a weekend. I mean, it was ridiculous what I was doing. And this is what I want to do again. ... You know, the act is stronger than it's ever been and the material is more current than it's ever been, it's less cartoonish. You know, when I first took off as a comic it was all really character driven. But it's been 18 years since then. ... So I've [developed as a] performer and the material is stronger and really truthful on stage, that people could really relate to it.
GM: Right. You've developed as a performer and as a person, I'm guessing.
AC: Yeah, you know, good and bad. I don't just talk about, you know, life is terrific; I'm still an attack comic. I look at the audience and I tell them what assholes [lives they live] ... how technology has taken over their lives. Not to do any material over the phone, but I say, it used to be when you'd wake up in the morning, you're thinking, okay, where's this next load gonna go? That's what used to excite people. You know what excites people today? When their wake up and they go, "I [remembered to] charge my phone!" This is the asshole lives that people live today. That's the thrill of the day: my phone, the battery is fully fuckin' charged up. And it really just infuriates me that people are that into it. I mean, you leave your phone at home ... [A few] days ago I was about two miles from my house and I remembered I forgot my fuckin' phone. I
was embarrassed that I came home to get it. Because years ago you drive around, no phone, who cares? [They can call me at home]. If they want me, they can leave a message. But today we've just been taught like the sheep we are, you've gotta have that, if you're not up on the latest gadget you're like an asshole at parties. Yes, I get into all that on stage.
GM: Social commentary. And do you do personal stuff, too?
AC: Yeah, exactly. I mean, all the sex stuff. All of it is there. But I'm just saying as far as staying updated and current, [that's] important to me because I wouldn't want to go out... Of course I'll close a show most probably doing the Mother Goose rhymes because those are the hits. Fans from years ago love [me] doing that. I haven't gone to Canada much so if you're gonna perform, give 'em the poems.
GM: Have you performed in Vancouver before?
AC: Did a couple shows in Canada many years ago but not much. So it's exciting.
GM: It must be a thrill to play in an arena with a huge crowd, and a notch on your belt, too. But does it get in the way of the comedy?
AC: No, because I always geared myself more like a rock star than [a comedian]. It's a certain performance style. Coming to Canada and selling out the way I'm selling out there, whether it's a thousand people, fifteen hundred or five thousand, is an accomplishment. That's how I look at it, even at the arena thing. It's not about the notch. It's more about ... I did that once. To do it again, that's success. That's saying it wasn't a fluke. And I've been performing as a star for twenty
years. Well, since '88. Yeah, about twenty years. And I've done every stage, every arena, every little theatre, every club. To rise up again like that, for the challenge, it's like a Rocky fight. Whenever you see him down, you go, he's taken so many hits, can he still get up? And that's how I feel about my own career because of the controversy, because of the constant battle of the media. Even when somebody like Eminem came along, I actually became friends with him because I would stick up for him in the press, but even the articles against him were not nearly as hard as what the press did with me. Because at least with him there were other rappers rapping and doing the kind of places he did. ... With me, it was one of a kind. It was like an oddball thing. Why is this guy drawing 20,000 people a night?
GM: People did compare you to Sam Kinison, which I didn't get, but he wasn't playing to that many people.
AC: No, Kinison never did anywhere near... No comic ever, including today with Dane Cook... could come close to the records I have in all of these arenas. Number one, I would sell them out within, you know, an hour, forty minutes, a half hour. I mean ridiculous. I must have done a hundred arena shows. Kinison was a great comic and I think the comparison was more like we were two [different] kinds of comics as far as, number one, going through a character. Character driven. And just different than anybody out there. And believe me, I wish he was still around because we'd most probably be touring together today. I get angry about that a lot. It's like, "You fuckin' left me here [alone] ...". You know. There is nobody out there. I don't see it. There's not one comic I see that has that rock star attitude. And if they meant anything with [the comparison to] Kinison, he also did have that. And he really did live like a rock star. You know,
he was a wild guy.
GM: Did you have that period in your success?
AC: Not really. I was more clean. See, I'm against the whole drug thing, I'm against the alcohol thing. For me it's more about the chicks. I like girls. You know, that's what I like. Only I was married back then so it sorta fucked that part up for me a little.
GM: Before your success and then during?
AC: Yeah, I was with the same girl. But now I'm single so it's time to have some fun (laughs).
GM: You have a girlfriend, though, don't you?
AC: No, no, we broke up a long time ago. We still argue about things. She's a comic herself.
Eleanor Kerrigan from the reality show with me, that I was engaged to, yeah. No, we broke up over a year ago. I'll make sure to call and remind her of that.
GM: You talk about being a character. Is that the biggest misconception, that people think you are that guy?
AC: [It's hard] even after all these years to explain who I am off the stage. And it's puzzled everybody, including myself, because I am from Brooklyn, I do have a Brooklyn attitude. But I don't walk down a street and look at a chick and go, "Hey, would you mind if I fingered you, honey?" Thinking it, but I'll only say it on stage. That's the difference. On stage I just say what people think and how they feel. And that's what makes them laugh. When you could hit that button in somebody that they go, "That's just what I was thinking!", that's what makes them laugh.
GM: How much Dice is there in Andrew Clay?
AC: Well, that's just what I explained to you. See, you didn't even pick up on it.
GM: I got that. But most comics are an exaggeration of themselves...
AC: That's what I just explained.
GM: Yeah, exactly, but you had even more than that. You had this tough guy character. Are you a tough guy? Were you a tough kid?
AC: In a way, yeah. To a certain level. I wasn't a bad kid.
GM: I spoke to an old roommate of yours and he said you always made him laugh.
AC: That could be true.
GM: It was Yakov Smirnoff.
AC: Yeah, we had a lot of fun me and Yakov. Yeah, he would know about the chicks. ... I saw enough of him.
GM: Now that would have been a great reality series, you and Yakov. The real-
life Odd Couple.
AC: I actually saw him a few weeks ago. He stopped in L.A. for a minute. I don't know what he was doing. But yeah, we used to have a lot of fun. We have our memories ... So he knows that stuff. And I would make him laugh. We were just good friends.
GM: And still.
AC: You know, I never talk to him. No, I wouldn't say we're still good friends because we never really see each other. But I love the guy.
GM: You said you were blackballed by the industry. I'm wondering how that manifested itself.
AC: Because of what I do.
GM: Did you hear specifically that people weren't hiring you? Or was it like that awards show, where you can come but don't do any material?
AC: Yeah, it's always been like that. It's just one story after another. But in an interview it's hard to go through an entire career. What I am happy about is that there is a career and that I have the kind of self will that it takes to always stay true to who I am as a performer and keep getting better and keep entertaining the public. It's what I do. I don't have a job to go to. ... [I go on] stage. That's what I do. So I enjoy that job.
GM: When you started out doing standup, were you always out to shock audiences or was that just a byproduct?
AC: It just evolved.
GM: Who were your comedy heroes?
AC: I really don't have any. ... I was never that into standup before I became one. A lot of comics were, they studied different performers. I sort of like just doing my own thing. I like more rock stars than anything else.
GM: So what got you up on the stage that first time?
AC: Well, I wanted to more or less become a movie [star] ... Instead of going to, like, acting classes, I put together a little act and started showcasing in comedy clubs. I figured that's where industry would see me. I was only like twenty years old at the time. Then when I started seeing standups when I got out to the Comedy Store in L.A. and I saw everybody from Leno... to Howie
Mandel to Roseanne. Everybody was there. It was everybody's beginning. We all came from that. Just everybody. Kinison. You name anybody with a talk show, they were all at the Comedy Store. Jerry Seinfeld. But when I'd walk [in] ... I'd get bored about five, six minutes in, ten minutes in. Not that they weren't funny, just that they weren't doing anything up there. I grew up studying people like Elvis and Buddy Rich and Muhammad Ali and movie stars like Sly Stallone and John Travolta, James Dean. So I decided ... [when I started doing standup] I'm going to create the most exciting standup that people have ever seen using the idols I had as performers. I decided I'll become the Elvis of standup. I will create that persona for people to have because it's been done on television, it's been done in movies ... but it was never done as a standup comic. That's why, as the career took off there were more rhinestones on the leather, the collars were higher. That was all Elvis influenced. And it worked.
GM: When the press was knocking you down when you were on top, did it piss you off or did you just ignore it?
AC: I didn't understand it only because before I was known, and I was playing clubs around the country, I always had this underground following. And newspapers, you know, the Times in any city or the Daily News in any city, whether it be Texas or Ohio, wherever I'd be ... [I'd get] great write-ups. They'd call me, like, the Capone of Comedy, the Hoodlum of Humor, and say, yeah,
he's dirty but then he goes into these impressions and even the Mother Goose stuff. It wasn't until I aired on HBO and then it became in the press the comedy of hate. So it's funny how that works.
GM: It's so common. When someone's under the radar, everyone wants to sing their praises. But as soon as they hit it big, you shoot 'em down.
AC: Yeah, that's what it is. They do it to this day with everybody.
GM: You've been trying out new material at clubs. What kind of reaction have you been getting?
AC: Last year I did what I call the club [tour] ... And people really are responding. I went into concert when I had my reality show and I wasn't prepared for the mania of the crowds yet. I mean, they were just really out of their minds. It was like going to a rock show. Even crazier. So I decided to just go into smaller clubs and get back into the performance of how I would do things, not just the material but how I would perform it. And now I'm ready to go back into the
theatres and the bigger places again.
GM: Whose idea was it for the reality show? Did you pitch them or were you approached?
AC: I'd been wanting to do a reality show for years ... and I actually filmed my own show. Fox was the producers and once they got a deal with VH1, they decided to change everything up. It was okay, you know. It's what it was. It was good to get me out there but that's about it. The best thing I've done from everything is Howard Stern. I mean, doing Stern is like years ago when a comic would do Johnny Carson. Johnny Carson made stars overnight. Today if you do a show like Leno or Letterman, they don't do that. They don't try to help, I'll put it to you that way. It's not who they are. But Stern, for me anyway, when I do his show he just lets me go and it's always a huge effect on selling concert tickets. Because he lets you do your thing. He doesn't sit there and try to hinder it. He helps it. ... [When Carson had guys on like] Rodney Dangerfield or Rickles, Carson was on every night for like 90 minutes, if he had a great comic on he'd let them go. And he'd let them sit on the panel and he would show how he's laughing. But these guys today are like jerk-off guys. I don't care if they want to give Leno 250 million, I think he's a jerk-off [guy] ... because he never looked to, in my opinion, help anybody other than himself. And that's not the job of a talk show host.
GM: He has a reputation of being a super nice guy, though, doesn't he?
AC: You know what? It's just my opinion. I don't talk about him in my act, I'm just telling you what I think. I never really hung out with him. I used to see him at the Comedy Store. Yeah. He's a talk show host. He's a talk show host that don't look to help his fellow comics.
GM: But you would do the show again, wouldn't you?
AC: His show? Never. No interest.
AC: No interest. The guys I like are, I love Conan, I love Jimmy Kimmel. Next week I'll do Carson Daly. I actually like Chelsea Handler. She's funny. I'm gonna do her show. Because these are people, like when you watch them, they're fun. They're actually having fun with their guests. So I'd rather do shows like that than those guys. I mean, I can't get past Letterman's channel quick enough. I've never been into it, ever.
GM: You've done the show before, haven't you?
AC: No. Never. And trust me, they don't want me to.
GM: Since your heyday, your absolute peak, have you been able to revert back to a sense of anonymity or are you always recognized?
AC: It's a constant. Once you're a star, you're a star forever. That's it. When you affect the country, when you're somebody that's done something nobody else has ever done, people recognize you, trust me.
GM: Did other comics resent your success?
AC: Yeah, everybody went against me. Comics, talk show hosts, the media. But the more that went against me, the more the fans were chanting my name. It was like a crazy thing.
GM: I saw something on YouTube of you on CNN, which was hilarious.
AC: ... some guy opening his mouth. He's lucky I didn't drag him over the desk.
GM: Was that part of a schtick?
AC: I don't know how it could have been. You're talking about a CNN journalist coming on completely unprepared ... [I] sold more tickets than any comic ever since the day comedy was born and he's talking about how we're nice Jewish boys and we're a lot alike and didn't I have a gym? And that's when I looked at him and was like, "Who's he doing this for? His mommy? What, his mommy don't like me?" So yeah, that's when I told him to go fuck himself. Forever, he's the guy on CNN that Dice called a cocksucker. He's that guy. If he solves world problems and he's interviewed it's the first question out of any journalist's mouth to him: "Why would you do that?"
GM: What was the fallout of that leaving the studio?
AC: I just left. The elevators were right there. I was actually with my ex-girlfriend, Eleanor, and my road manager, Happy Face, and we just got in the elevator, we got in a cab, and went to a diner. It was hysterical. But that guy [got what he] deserved.
GM: Thanks to the beauty of YouTube, it's out there for us all to enjoy.
AC: Yeah, see, I didn't even realize that.
GM: I'm glad you didn't do that to me.
AC: But there was no reason to. At least you were prepared with real questions. ... I had a feeling this guy was going to pull something because when he came out to do the interview, I went over to say hello, shake his hand, and he was really cold with me. And I'm like, "What is this guy's story?" And then the minute he started, it was like, "Alright, another asshole jerk-off guy. He's gotta pay the price obviously." And I was trying, believe me, I was trying. Like at first I was
laughing and going "Alright, let him play a little, let's see where it goes." And then he just pushed the wrong buttons and it was like, "Alright, you know what, fuck you."
GM: Does something like that help your ticket sales?
AC: Yeah, for me it's all glory. For a guy like that, believe me, he's called into the boss's office and they're going, "What did you do?" And you know what's so funny? The world knows my name. Nobody knows his. Nobody knows him. He's the asshole that was dumb enough to fuck with Dice on live television. That's who he is. That's his name now.