Seven Questions for Andrew Dice Clay

The foulmouthed comic on the appeal of performing in a small venue, the two sides of his persona and the one clean comedian he respects

Photo by Matt Hoyle

Photo by Matt Hoyle

You’re in the midst of your second year with a periodic residency in Vinyl at the Hard Rock Hotel. Why was this a good career move for you?

After you do 12 million people as a live performer, there’s really nothing to prove as far as big rooms. And today my career is a lot different. I made what they say is a great comeback, all the way from [appearing regularly on] Entourage through my Showtime special, Indestructible, through [appearing in] Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, which is basically Woody’s biggest movie ever. So I’m very comfortable with the new career. It’s sort of the kind of career I always wanted, because I always loved the acting stuff. But I love the live performing, too, because I have millions of fans, and playing a place like Vinyl is great. It’s a smaller room, it’s an intimate room, but it’s very rock ’n’ roll.

The way I feel, I put out the same energy wherever I am. But to do it in front of 300 or 400 people gives me more satisfaction. I get to really play with the crowds.

You reached the pinnacle in the stand-up business more than two decades ago. What motivates you to continue to go onstage?

I love what I do. A long time ago, Spike Lee said, “The greatest thing is to find what you love and do it every day.” And I found what I love, whether it’s onstage at Vinyl or in concert in [bigger] theaters or doing a movie like Blue Jasmine. It’s what I do—it’s what I was meant to do as a human being.

Your book, titled The Filthy Truth, is due out later this year. Why was now the right time to write a memoir?

When my career took off, I was offered every kind of deal, including book deals. And back then, I was like, “What am I going to write a book about? I just made it six months ago.” You know, Hollywood’s a crazy place, I gotta tell ya. So the management would say, “Do the book. Put out the book.” And I was never money-hungry like that. Obviously, anybody likes having a lot of money—to say I don’t like having money is stupid. But it was never the goal. The goal was accomplishment, and at that time, I had just made it and I felt, “Well, there is no story yet.” So now, 35 years into a career, there’s something to write about.

What will your fans learn in the book that they don’t already know?

A lot of things—a lot of personal things. A lot of what I went through emotionally on- and off-stage. It’s been an emotional roller coaster. But what I’m happy about is how I’ve kept it all together. I never gave up on romance just because a couple of marriages didn’t work out. A lot of people get married one time, and if it doesn’t work out, they’re like, “Fuck this. I’m never getting married again.”

You know, there are two sides to me: You’ve got a very moralistic guy who loves family, wife, children—grounded, from Brooklyn. But then there’s the leather-jacket-wearing, cigarette-smoking, foulmouthed, womanizing animal, which is the other side of me. I even do jokes onstage—I say [to the audience], “My wife can’t trust me; why would she trust me? I’m not trustable. I walk through the casino, I see five girls, I want to stick out my dick like shish kabob.” It’s just who I am as a human. Now, I don’t go and do it—that is a side of me that I try not to unleash. But I have in the past. I know me that well.

What’s your best piece of advice for an aspiring comedian?

Be original. Don’t worry what other comics are doing. Because it’s a very tough business, and most of them fail. Like my son, Max, he does stand-up … but he doesn’t walk in my shadow at all. He has his own persona. It’s nothing like what I do. But the one thing I always talk to him about is, “You owe it to yourself to do the kind of material you want to do, but be original in how you do it. Because if you fail, at least you know you did it the way you wanted to.” … You don’t want to fail and go, “Fuck, maybe if I was myself rather than sort of impersonating another performer, I would’ve got there.”

You’re obviously known for your blue humor. Are there any clean comics you admire?

Jerry Seinfeld. He’s the one clean comic I can sit and watch, because he’s meticulous—every word is perfect. He’s a genius with that. And he knows it; I’ve told him. There’s nobody who can touch him. He really is phenomenal.

I’ve actually heard him slip a few four-letter words into his act recently.

You know what? He should. He’s got to loosen up. I love Jerry. See, that would be interesting to me, to have the cleanest guy in the world and the dirtiest, and we do a little tour called something like, “Clean vs. Dirty.”

Who opens that show?

We’d have an opener. But I guarantee you Seinfeld would not—there’s not a comic on earth who could follow what I do. But he could certainly come out and do an hour before me and kill a crowd.

Andrew Dice Clay performs in Vinyl at the Hard Rock Hotel at 9 p.m. May 1, 2 and 4. For tickets and additional show dates, visit