Monday, November 23, 2009

Comedian Artie Lange discusses his new CD/DVD

Posted By on Mon, Nov 23, 2009 at 3:58 PM

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Best known for providing wise-ass remarks on The Howard Stern Show, Artie Lange, a former longeshoreman from New Jersey, has been a working comic since landing a role on MADtv in the earlier 1990s. He joined The Howard Stern Show in 2001, filling the position left vacant after Jackie Martling left the show. Often ridiculed for being overweight and out-of-shape (not to mention cantankerous and prone to causing trouble), Lange continues to work on the show despite having once turned in his resignation after a physical altercation with his personal assistant. He’s also had numerous substance abuse issues that have been well-publicized (and made him the butt of many of Stern’s jokes). Lange recently issued Jack and Coke, a live CD (the DVD version is slated to be out in January) and called to talk about the disc and his addiction problems.

How is it that Jack and Coke is your first-ever comedy CD?
I put out a DVD in 2004. It’s called It’s the Whiskey Talking. At the time, they said we could print a CD but they weren’t sure of the quality. So this is really my second stand-up project. The last five years, between the radio show and writing and touring and doing the movie and book, I’ve been busy. This is an hour and a half. It shows you how shitty I am when it comes to your comedy batting average. Between the two releases, there’s two hours and 20 minutes of stand up out there that I’m proud of. And I’ve written about ten hours of material. The combination of the road and morning radio hasn’t killed me, but it’s come close. If I keep doing it, it will kill me. This is everything I’ve been touring with for the past four years.

You recorded it at the Gotham in New York. Did you even consider another venue?
It’s the Whiskey Talking I did out in Tempe, Arizona at the Improv because it’s a club that looks like a theater. David Spade and Dennis Miller have both done specials there. I like that ’70s look of a club and the fact that it has an upper tier. But this time, I thought, “I gotta do it in New York.” I knew New York would be it. I had a show at the Beacon coming up. That’s a legendary club where I’ve seen the Allmans a couple of times and I had seen Sam Kinison there. I thought about that, but I wanted it to be more intimate.

You start the CD saying, “I’m glad Heath Ledger died and I’ll tell you why.”
This is a comedy CD. It’s very dark and angry, I get it. There’s an exercise that comics do that we all tried doing. I remember doing this down in the Village with guys like Dave Attell or even Dave Chappelle. I haven’t taken a comedy class, because that is totally gay. But the exercise is that you say a line that digs the biggest hole ever. Now, you have to dig out of that hole. I thought it would be so funny to start out with that line on the CD. But the very next line explains that’s it’s really a joke on me. It’s a funny, dark thought that this fat slob is happy that this good-looking, great actor is dead because he can get parts in films. But yeah, it’s a punch in the face.

I like your bit about how the cowboys in Brokeback Mountain could have been more polite about it.
Yeah, I make a lot of good points in that joke. I don’t mind two guys fucking, but if I’m the guy getting fucked, I don’t mind being told first. Of course. I say my bit about gay marriage every day on the Stern show. Has anyone ever been to a wedding that hasn’t been gay? We do jokes about it and it’s just a part of society that’s funny to expose and talk about it. I don’t have a racist or homophobic bone in my body.

Is there really such a thing as a “hooker alarm clock”?
I think now that I said it, there will be. I’m an innovator in scumbag areas.

Did you ever really pose as Seinfeld’s Newman to get laid?
No, but I told this story on Conan, who has always been good to me. He’s had me on for the past 15 years. Right after Andy [Richter] left the show, I was in Chicago. This is a true story. I was doing a gig in Chicago and I was at Wrigley Field and there were these two hot drunk broads sitting in back of me. One of them had seen me on Conan. The one said, “You’re the guy from Conan O’Brien.” Before I could say who I was, the other one said, “You’re the sidekick and I love you so much and hugged me.” I let her believe I was Andy Richter and we went to a bar and I never told her the truth. We went to this girl’s apartment and I didn’t bang her and she didn’t blow me but we were fooling around and I got her bra off and was sucking her tits. She sort of passed out. I looked in the fridge and I took one rib of Chinese food because I was starving and snuck out and I never told her that I was not Andy Richter. That’s the truth. I changed the story a bit because Newman is just a better punchline.

You joke about numerous celebrities. Do you ever catch any flack from the people you make fun of?
I mean, listen, the next time I’m at a Scientology dinner party with Tom Cruise, I’ll try to avoid him if he’s mad. Howard goes through the same shit because he goofs on so many people. What are you going to do? I don’t think I’m in danger of this. If I become a huge star, I might have to do some apologizing. But I’m fine with the celebrity status I have now. Unless someone comes looking for me, I think I’ll be alright.

You joke that you’re the only guy who got fat on coke. What’s the deal with that?
It’s a joke that’s not true. I weighed about 80 pounds. A black guy who thought I was on coke when I was in for alcohol, really did say, “What, are putting that shit on cheeseburgers?” I have to give him credit for that.

Your drug problems have been well-publicized. Are you finally clean?
Since April, no heroin. I haven’t done cocaine since June 14, 1997. On the road, heroin became an awful, insidious problem. I battled if for four and a half years. In April, I hired two retired New York City cops who specialize in this shit and we went down to my shore house and I went through withdrawals. I immediately lost 50 pounds. I got healthier and have not touched a hard drug since April. It’s the longest I’ve been clean in five years. I feel like a million times better but not as good as I felt when I was on heroin.

Dr. Drew would be proud.
I called him and admitted, “Alright, motherfucker, I need to talk to you.”

What’s it like having so much of your personal life in the public eye?
There’s a lot things I said that I wished I didn’t say. The day I admitted I was on heroin, for example. I do a joke about how Stern fans change on a dime. They see you on the street and yell, “You’re fat and ugly and your liver is going to blow up and you’re a scumbug” and the next moment, they’re like “Can my daughter get a picture with you?” The day I admitted I was on heroin, I teared up a bit and Howard hugged me and Robin hugged me and 20 minutes later, there were song parodies about me being on heroin and so fat I can’t find the vein. You gotta have thick skin. It is what it is. I’m on what in my opinion is the coolest show ever. It’s weird when these people listen to every second of the show with the re-runs and everything. You’re happy these people are fans but I’ll be on the road on the stage in like Denver, and some guy will yell out, “Did you pay that parking ticket in Chicago?” I don’t even remember that I talked about that shit.

How great is it that you can go through life saying rumors of your death have been greatly exaggerated?
Dude, that’s my eulogy. When it was on a local Vegas news station that I was found dead in my hotel room at the Hard Rock in Vegas, it was so believable. It was like, “Lange, who struggled with drugs, was found by his girlfriend at 6 a.m. with drug paraphernalia.” It sounded so real. Look, when I first started on the show, I was 32, they predicated 34 is when I would die. I end the CD by going, “To all you motherfuckers from the Howard Stern Show, I’m still alive, you fuck heads.” We’ll see what happens. I’m 42, which is the same age Elvis died on the shitter, so if I make it through this, I’ll be OK.

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