Andrew Dice Clay: back on TV and turning heads

LOS ANGELES Fri Aug 5, 2011 4:32pm EDT

1 of 2. Actors Kevin Dillon (L) and Andrew Dice Clay are shown in a scene from HBO's 'Entourage' in this undated publicity photo released to Reuters August 5, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Claudette Barius/HBO/Handout

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Around 20 years ago, Andrew Dice Clay was a major star on Hollywood's comedy radar with chart-topping CDs, large audiences on TV and sold-out venues as big as Madison Square Garden, but it all came crashing down.

The brash style of the "Diceman" with his raunchy, adult-oriented rhymes and sexually-charged jokes, made numerous audiences laugh but offended others. He was banned from MTV, and his stardom began to fade in the mid-1990s.

The Brooklyn-born comedian with bushy sideburns and leather jacket made some half-hearted comeback tries in the 2000s, but for the most part stayed out of the limelight. He worked through a bad divorce and raised his sons, Max and Dillon.

Now he's back, at age 53, playing himself on the comeback trail in the new season of HBO comedy "Entourage," and that fictional show has sparked what "Dice" hopes is a real-life return to stardom. His biggest episode yet airs on Sunday, and he spoke with Reuters recently about the show and his career.

Q: What have you been doing all these years?

A: "The kind of gigs I was doing were more or less in Las Vegas clubs. I didn't have management. I didn't have agents. I'd do anything to pay my mortgage. After having a failed marriage, it was just more important to me to bring up my kids. That to me is the greatest accomplishment ever...I'm sure I could have pushed and pushed, but it was really more about being home and raising my kids, making a few dollars."

Q: The inclination for people, I'm sure, is to say, "He must have been down on his luck" or "not doing well" only able to play clubs to 100 or 200 people. Is that right?

A: "It wasn't about that. I do live in a pretty big home. For me, I'm broke in that I've got a pretty big nut (monthly expenses) to crack, but I'm not down and out...I never cared about that. I don't even read most of my press. Years ago when people were coming after me, it bothered me then, but I figured out that I don't even know these people who are coming after me, so why should I bother about it."

Q: So, how did the "Entourage" guys find you?

A: "I went for coffee with my son Max, and here comes Bruce (Rubenstein, a writer) who I hadn't seen in 14 years. The next day we got together again. He said, 'Dice last I looked you were the biggest thing in the country, and then you just disappeared.' He started playing with his phone and tells me I should do 'Entourage' because 'a lot of comics have done it,' and then he said, 'All I can tell you is Doug Ellin ('Entourage' producer) is a big fan and wants a meeting with you, today.'

"I said, 'How do you know?' and he said 'because I'm e-mailing him right now.' The next day we have a meeting with Doug, and he didn't just want me for cameo, he said, 'I think you are the biggest stand-up that ever was, and I want to blow you through the roof this season.'

Q: So far, this season of "Entourage" deals with second chances. Do you view this as a "second chance" for you or is it just one more "up" in what had been an up-and-down career?

A: "Oh definitely, it's a second chance. The things I tried, the reality show ('Dice Undisputed' in 2007), was done not, at all, the way I wanted it done...A couple of years later I got a call for 'Celebrity Apprentice.' I was the first one fired, which I found kind of comedic, but I wasn't really going after anything with that.

"Now, we've been in touch with (director) Barry Levinson about the 'Gotti' film. I'm reading the script. I want to develop a show, kind of like 'Entourage.' I want to put a book out, I have everything in there from my childhood to a love affair I had with Teri Hatcher years ago. I almost want to call it 'Blur' because everything is so insane. I want to put out a CD and do a TV special. I booked Cyclone Stadium in Brooklyn to do a live show on October 1.

Q: At the end of "Entourage" episode 2, Dice wants to renegotiate his contract on a movie because, so it's implied, you think Hollywood will stab you in the back. Do you think showbiz had it out for the Diceman back in the 1990s?

A: "In the show, it's not about getting them back, it's about already having been down the road of show business and knowing what they do and the promises never kept."

Q: Has age mellowed your comedy?

A: "It's not even about the shock of it; it's the outrageous stuff I talk about. I try to show people how silly they are with all this stuff. I talk about yesterday's versus today's generation. I still give them the classics like the poems, but I don't repeat myself.

"Now, it seems you can't just say anything wrong. Maybe you can't, but you owe it to people. You owe it to them to be the comedian you truly are...Should comics just stop being funny? You want to see (Jerry) Seinfield -- someone clean -- well, go see that. You want to see an animal out of the cage, you come see me."

(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis)