"Hickory dickory dock." If the next line that comes to your head is something obscene, you have Andrew Dice Clay to blame. The 58-year-old comedian, known for his raunchy rhymes and wildly offensive stand-up material, is the subject of a recent Washington Post profile. Clay is in the midst of a comeback: He had roles in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine and HBO's Vinyl (co-created by Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger). He is also starring in the semi-autobiographical series Dice on Showtime. The man can act. And, according to the Post's Geoff Edgers, the real Andrew Dice Clay (born Andrew Clay Silverstein) is nowhere near as bad as his onstage persona.
And how bad it was. My first introduction to Clay was on one of those HBO specials hosted by Rodney Dangerfield. Even by 1987 standards, it's out there. The way his character talks about women and foreigners, it's as if Clay intends you to be uncomfortable. (Could you imagine students' reactions if he performed the same set on a college campus today? And where are the Japanese coming from? What is that? Didn't we drop two bombs on them a couple years ago? What was in those bombs? Fertilizer?)
In the 1990 double live album, The Day the Laughter Died, Clay was merciless. As Edgers writes:
Instead of filling an arena, he recorded an unannounced set at a small club. He brought little material, only rage. Dice taunted audience members until they walked out. He made jokes about incest to a father watching with his college-age daughters.
And yet, as mentioned in the same profile, there's this other side:
"Only he knows what's going on inside of him," says Scot Armstrong, the "Old School" screenwriter who created "Dice." "There's just pure ego and outrageous and funny, and then there's the guy who is so kind and is at home with the kids and managing his sons' band." "People don't realize it's an amalgamation of two human beings," says Bruce Rubenstein, Clay's manager. "This is a guy who doesn't let me curse in his house."
"Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard." Nice guy or not, he's messed that line up for me for good. The same goes for "Little Boy Blue." It's really awful and crude. For instance, the joke about his mother saying they're having liver for dinner. Yeah, well I had it last night, Ma. It was goooood. I could go on, but I don't want to give the impression that I find any of this funny. Like when he compares a certain part of the female anatomy to a haunted house.