If you're old enough to rent a car legally, then you remember Andrew Dice Clay. Dice was, for a glorious minute or two, one of the biggest comedians of the late 1980s, a guy who sold out arenas and left legions of raving fans in his wake. But he was also as polarizing a public figure as we've had in the past quarter century, a man who incited opinion ranging from "Diceman rules!" to "That chauvinistic prick!" Where one person might find his brand of X-rated humor, dirty nursery rhymes, and Brooklyn-inspired antics crude, another (probably a guy) would follow him with an almost religious fervor, spouting his trademark "Ohhhh!" to anyone who would listen. But the '80s came and went, and then the '90s, and, for better or for worse, Diceman slowly faded from the public eye.
But now, Dice is back. He's just concluded filming a part in the HBO comedy special, Down and Dirty With Jim Norton (due out this fall) and is setting out to tour the States with a passion he hasn't had since his heyday. New Times had the chance to talk with Dice via telephone last week, and we asked him to give his take on the crazy ride that's been his career:
-having to prove himself all over again: "It keeps me fueled. I want to climb back up and do the arena circuit again. Six, seven years ago, audiences were not responding that heavily. But over the last couple years, maybe it's because I've worked so hard on the material or because I got my love for performance back, the response is just absolute Dicemania."
-the upcoming Down and Dirty With Jim Norton HBO special: "For me, it's reminiscent of the Rodney Dangerfield Young Comedians thing I did years ago. It had that effect. It was absolute mania when I performed that night. It's my reintroduction into mainstream, the perfect thing for me to do. I came out to devastate. That's what I always do. I want to do another one-hour special; it's been 11 years since my last one."
-aging: "Sometimes I do ask myself, 'Do I need this?' Touring is a lot of wear and tear on my body, because coming to see me is like seeing the Rolling Stones. People go nuts. I always try to stay in halfway decent shape because when those crowds are screaming at you, it goes right through your body. But I've got joints that are fucked up -- my neck, my back. The whole body tightens up when you feel that crowd. It's a lot to handle. I wrote about it on the internet, actually, and people were giving me suggestions, what kind of massage to get, what to take for your joints and shit."
-celebrities dropping the N-bomb: "People get all surprised that Michael Richards said that word. When that happened, they just wanted to point their finger and make-believe they didn't even know what the word meant. But they say that word! Everyone says that word! It wasn't a smart thing, what he did, but it's like, he's Kramer! The guy's crazy; that's what you love about him! But you don't do that. Me, I'm not a racist. I like black girls. I got no problem. I'll make it with them, I'll date 'em, no problem! Spanish girls? The fucking best! You can go through your whole life saying, 'Oh, that's wrong,' or you can say, 'I like that big, fat, black ass!' And that's what I say."
-getting respect in the comedy world: "I don't need it. I know what I've done in the world of comedy. I'm the original – the only one in history that could've gone on and been the middle act between Metallica and Guns n' Roses to 100,000 people at the Rose Bowl. No other comic that walked the face of the Earth could handle that. I walked out, and 100,000 people got on their feet and applauded. No one else is doing that. I'm the biggest standup in history; no one's even come close to causing the kind of mania I have. My show's a lot different than comedy. It's like seeing a rock star. That's my job; that's what I come to do. I don't pretend I don't want that, because if I claim I'm the best, I better come out and prove that every time. I want to make sure the only name remembered when I leave the stage is Dice."
-being a target of criticism: "When you get to my level, you become a target. The only guy that's even come close to doing what I've done is Dane Cook. And it's funny, everyone rips Dane apart! Every comic looks to put Dane down because he did what they're never gonna do. And that's it. They can't handle it. They're so insecure about who they are as performers, as comics. They know most of 'em are nerds, you know what I mean? They get pissed off and want to yell about him. But you know where Dane Cook is? The Boston Garden, that's where Dane Cook is. You think he's thinking about you? No, I give complete credit to him, because he's the only guy since me that's stepped into those arenas successfully."
-on his VH1 reality show, Undisputed: "I've been filming myself for about 20 years, so [a reality show] is something I've always wanted to do. And [the producers] had all the footage they needed! That show could've been a phenomenal show, but between a 1 and 10, I give it like a 3. The whole idea was to finally show the fans what I'm really like, to show the other side of who Dice really is as a person. And they just wouldn't fucking allow it. They came up with story lines, I fought them all the way, and then they'd use a little piece of my footage. I was like, 'This show will go off the air, and you guys will be looking for new jobs, and my career's going to go on.' I was really willing to show who I am. Like if I go on the road and I'm overweight, I'll take the camera and be like, 'Look at how fucking fat I am.' I'm not afraid to show that. I'll end up doing another reality show, but next time, I'll produce it and film it myself."
-on the infamous CNN interview: "Well, [the interviewer] was stupid. He had a guy on his show that's done something that no one else has ever done in standup comedy, and he had no facts about me. So that's why he got what he got. He didn't realize he was going to become the target. For the rest of his career, the first question he's going to be asked is, 'How was it to get destroyed on CNN by Dice?' If he becomes a Pulitzer Prize winner, that's what they'll ask him. If he reports from Iraq with bombs going off around him, people will say, 'Forget that. What was it like when Dice called you an asshole?'"
-ups and downs in his career: "It 's been an absolute roller-coaster ride, as far as a career. It's been insanity. But you know, I don't think I'd change it. Maybe I would've done more really good movies, like [director Martin] Scorsese-type of movies. I'm capable of doing that kind of acting, but because of the controversy I had as a comic, it just hasn't gone to that level. That would be the only thing I regret."
-on his new tour: "The goals I set for myself are pretty high, and everything I'm doing is geared towards standup. I want to do what I call the Recession Tour this fall. Because people are just getting fucked every way, you know? You fill up your truck, it's $100. I want to charge 1988 ticket prices in 2008. I've made my living doing standup all these years, and fans have always been behind me. So it's a real way of giving back. Look, people have got to be able to laugh in this day and age. I don't want anyone who wants to see me to say, 'It's too much.'"
-his new material: "I still do it the way I always have. As life goes on, yeah, you learn more. But [at my shows] I talk about everything from technology to midlife crises to how much I still love banging chicks with fat asses. I've got two kind of fans now: those that have been with me since whenever to those that have found me on Myspace or YouTube or every other fucking internet thing. You have everyone from 18 to 60 years old, but there's something there for everybody. But I'm way better than I ever have been as a performer, because when a lot of fans started seeing me, I had only been doing comedy for ten years. Now I'm doing it close to 30, so... I'm really great at what I do. I'll tell my crowds, 'Do you believe how fucking good I am at this?' You know, I'm amazed with me sometimes."