Profane Brooklyn-born comic Andrew Dice Clay—born Andrew Clay Silverstein—is as raunchy today as he was when he was banned from MTV in 1989 and played two consecutive sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden in 1991. After withdrawing from the limelight for a couple of years, the Diceman has been steadily clawing his way back: Last year he launched the VH1 reality series/publicity blitz Dice: Undisputed, chronicling his attempts to revive his comedy career. But he largely catapulted himself back with his impromptu riffing of new material when he appeared as a presenter at this year's Pollstar Awards. Though his publicist warned, "Dice is not the kind of guy that works far ahead in terms of scheduling interviews," The A.V. Club wrangled some time out of his busy schedule to talk about what he and Andy Kaufman have in common, his take on the Sopranos finale, and why Carson Daly is so cool.
The A.V. Club: Why aren't you wearing the leather any more?
Andrew Dice Clay: I do wear the leather; it's just that I'm not restricting myself to a motorcycle jacket any more. It's time to change and expand on the theme. That's why on different talk shows, you see me in the pinstripe gangster suit or the leather blazer like you might see in the movies Goodfellas or Donnie Brasco.
AVC: You've said the pinstripe suit is "more Sopranos, less street thug."
ADC: It's still a mix.
AVC: What did you think of the Sopranos ending?
ADC: I liked it. I like when something makes you think after you stop watching. It's a TV show, but we're all so invested in it. You walk around and go, "What do you think really happened?" Even though I know they just said "Cut!"
AVC: You don't have a theory?
ADC: Nothing happened. He just continues, because they won't try to take him out like that. Not with his wife and kids there.
AVC: Why does that image appeal to you?
ADC: Rebelliousness. That's not my lifestyle, but I'm definitely not a 9-to-5 guy. I didn't get to sleep this morning 'til 5. I do whatever I do. I go to the club. I work on material. While other people are sleeping, I'm awake. I always liked that. I like being able to drive when there's no traffic. It's almost like you own the street at night.
AVC: With your new material, you're claiming to be more honest than your previous cartoonish persona.
ADC: It's almost like the Dice of the '90s. Even if you watch the first season of The Sopranos, they were learning their part. They were establishing. They were first learning. You watch the last season, and it just seems like who they are. What you're seeing, they get to really throw their personalities into. Onstage today, I'm more myself personality-wise than ever before.
AVC: Did you ever go too far with the persona?
ADC: I'm not talking about the material; I'm talking about how I performed. The material was the material then, and it is what it is today. I have no problem today letting people know I'm part of what they live. That's why I know about the things that make people the assholes they are. They have no choice but to be part of it. I don't get up and look at e-mail. I don't even know my e-mail address. I needed one just to have a computer put on. But I never, ever even thought of going to it. It's just not what I'm about. I just don't want to waste my life with it. It's just too much; I think people are just a little too absorbed in all of that. You might need it in your life because of the way the world runs today. I really don't need it in mine—I'm a dinosaur.
AVC: Is that good or bad?
ADC: It's a good thing for me. I don't mind the way I live. I like the way I live.
AVC: On Last Call With Carson Daly, you did material about Siegfried and Roy and jokes about cell phones. That's more honest?
ADC: Well, yeah. I look at people and I see how hypocritical they are in their own lives. Siegfried and Roy is probably the biggest show Vegas ever had of its kind. But when that [tiger-mauling] incident happened, everybody couldn't believe it, and my take was, "Why couldn't you believe that?" You're paying to see how dangerous that is, so when it happens, you're shocked? Comedically, I know how to make it funny. That's why I talk about things like that.
AVC: Were you sincere when you told Carson Daly you're a fan of his show?
ADC: Yeah, I like him. I think he's funny. He's a quirky guy. Those are the kinds of people I hook into personally and comedically. Carson's like a new friend, so we haven't really hung, but it's just funny the way he questions you. I always thought he had a cool show. It is like last call. It's that vibe. He's got that Dean Martin-type thing going on.
AVC: How much depth does the Dice character have?
ADC: I just think it keeps evolving. It's not about the character; it's about the material. I think I answered your question when I told you what I've been doing onstage. I know you have certain questions, but you keep coming back to the same question. You've approached it three different ways, and I'm giving you the same answer.
AVC: Let's change gears, then. It seems like the Dice character is Andy Kaufman-esque—it's more about the reactions than whether it's funny.
ADC: No, it's nothing like that.
AVC: What's it like, then?
ADC: Andy would play characters like Saturday Night Live. Just characters. I'm from Brooklyn, New York. Where do you think Dice was from? Andy did the foreign guy. We know that wasn't him. Tony Clifton wasn't him. It's a different thing. The one thing me and Kaufman have in common is complete commitment to what we do as performers. That's what we have in common. We both do Elvis. I really liked his Elvis.
AVC: Who do you think your audience is now?
ADC: You know what, I got everybody. From the MySpace generation to 60-year-olds. Whoever still goes to concerts. It's amazing: I've seen so many fathers and sons, but also mothers and daughters coming to see me.
AVC: How does that compare to before?
ADC: Different. There was no MySpace generation when my career took off. They were babies. Now, they're in their 20s and 30s.
AVC: Speaking of which, you have a MySpace page, but based on what you said about e-mail, it sounds like you aren't too involved with it.
ADC: Sometimes I am. [That's] one thing I'll do. I'll answer certain fans. I'm not on that often. I'm not a great typist, so I don't answer all of them. So I answer some fans, some questions, or chicks with big tits.
AVC: Where in the landscape of offensive humor today do you feel you fit in?
ADC: I'm a one of a kind.
AVC: No one comes close?
ADC: Definitely not. To me, it's not even about the language.
AVC: What's it about, then?
ADC: I think shows like South Park got the chance because of somebody like myself. It's more about the material, like it always has been. If there's foul language in it, there's sexual talk in it, but it's not the whole act. So if I'm talking about sex, I'll paint a picture for the audience in a comedic way. I think the comics out there today, they stink. It's like they set out to be offensive and curse, but on the surface, there's nothing going on. You look at them and you go, "There's nothing happening here," and turn the channel.
AVC: You've been making a lot of digs against today's comedians.
ADC: I think girl comics are doing better than guy comics today. They're more exciting than guy comics.
AVC: These days, people tend to say the opposite.
ADC: Well, that went on for many years, and they weren't. Years ago, I would bash them on print, on albums. They all had the same rap on dating and "I want to be married." It was almost like begging onstage for somebody to like them and marry them. They were just awful to look at, just eyesores. If a girl isn't that great-looking, their material has to be very strong. They just weren't.
But, you know, Sandra Bernhard: great comic. She was great back then, too. But she didn't do jokes. She wouldn't complain about not being [married]. She would entice a crowd. She was an A-1 performer. She was one of a kind. There were a few. When Roseanne [Barr] hit the scene, she talked about being married; she didn't talk about wanting to be married. She was married. With kids. She had attitude, and it was funny. That was about it. Joan Rivers, of course, always funny. You're talking about three out of who knows how many. Today, they're better-looking and just cover everything the way a male comic would, should. They cover all kinds of subject matter. That's a good thing. When someone's good, I don't piss on it. If somebody sucks, then they'll always suck.
AVC: In the past, you've compared yourself to Rocky Balboa. It seems like you and the Rocky movies share a similar reputation, in that people pass judgment and think they're crappy before actually having seen them.
ADC: Well, Rocky is like a historical movie already—people just follow. Girls are learning to have sex from watching these pornos that offend me on the Internet. They just put the most dirty, filthiest things, the most deviant things, on the Internet. They're not learning to have sex from doing it. They're doing, "Oh, so that's what you do? Let me spit at his cock now for a while." I mean, please. I've been around for a while. And if we cut back 15 years ago, nobody was spitting at my dick. It's the funniest thing in the world, and they're all just doing it. I've seen it, and you almost want to go, "Do you know her? Do you know this girl? Do you guys talk? Why are you spitting on my balls?" It's laughable.
AVC: Was your Pollstar Awards set staged?
ADC: I wanted to perform, but they told me not to. You gamble when you do something like that. The entire personal-appearance industry was there. There's a lot they can do to upset the performance if they want. Obviously, they didn't. It was a real career move on my part, because now the bookings are ridiculously good. Of course, the entire industry was there. I just wanted to show I'm fresh, I'm back, I'm current.
Being onstage and performing, the high of that, and people coming to see you, and getting to make them laugh—that's what gets me hyped up. It's a nervous excitement. Interviews can go either way. Sometimes I just hang up on them. If I'm bored, they're talking to an empty line.
AVC: Are you bored now?
ADC: No. You're pretty good, and I'll give you one more question, then I got to go. If you saw who was coming over, you'd hang up too. Can't fucking believe this. It's not even nighttime. Girl calls up, she's a 10-and-a-half, forget about a 10. "Can I come over now?" This gorgeous redhead, over six feet tall, an hourglass figure, these big fucking tits, and an ass like a basketball. She'll be making me lunch.
Gorgeous redhead, and she actually runs a bank! I'm not into strippers and hookers. I never was my whole life. I like real girls. When they're in bed with you, it's not a show. They just want to do that. This girl runs a bank in Hollywood. I walk in, and I'm like, "How come there's not a pole in the middle of the bank?" Intelligent, smart, that's the turn-on, not just some dummy with big tits. I like a smart girl. Anyway, I got to go. I got to get ready for her. I got to get coffee going or something.
AVC: Sounds like you'll have a full afternoon.
ADC: Then my kids will come and see her. They'll love that. The two boys, they're rock stars themselves. They'll see this girl, and they'll be, "Dad, where the fuck did you find her?" Hysterical. I came over to her to open up this account for one of my kids, and she's just gazing into my—I just wanted to start jerking off on the floor. Beautiful!
And I'll call my friend Wheels, and he'll go, "It's unreal, what goes on." And I'll go, "It does go on." He'll go, "Only in your house does it go on." Two in the afternoon? Unreal. I won't even need the Viagra for this one. She's that good-looking. That's a good joke.