Crass course: Andrew Dice Clay returns to the stand-up stage with renewed vigor
In hindsight, Andrew Dice Clay was maybe twice the innovator and half the irritator he was ever made out to be. A man out of time when he rose to fame in the early ’90s, Clay was the scapegoat for any number of societal ills, branded a homophobe at the height of AIDS, and made to wear the mantles of misogyny and racism as if his comedy were single-handedly responsible for hundreds of years of injustice and oppression.
it’s hard to look back at Arsenio Hall piously chastising Clay on his late-night talk show and not think, “Really?” We’ve come so far (or gone so backward, depending on who you ask) that there are now hundreds of acolytes to Dicedom, and everyone from Sacha Baron Cohen to Seth MacFarlane owes some small debt to the doors Clay blasted open.
His adult nursery rhymes, or poems, as he calls them, now seem all the more quaint in an era when “2 Girls 1 Cup” can become a pop culture phenomenon.
in his current run at the Riviera, a residency that finds him performing two weeks a month throughout the rest of the year, the 54-year-old provocateur embodies the classic “Dice” image we’ve come to know and love, down to the leather jacket, sunglasses, cutoff gloves and ever-present cigarette, which somehow makes it past the showroom’s no-smoking policy. His fan base is back in a big way, too, thanks to a five-episode arc on the eighth and final season of Entourage.
“It’s a whole new career,” said Clay of the boost he received from appearing on the long-running HBO bromance, which he calls “the greatest show I ever did.” While playing second banana to Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) on a fictional animated series within the series, he also got to work with his 21-year-old son, Max Silverstein, a drummer-turned-stand-up comic. “We’re all major fans of the show, and then we ended up on it, which was a mind-blower,” said Silverstein, who opens for Clay at the Riviera alongside Dice’s ex-fiancée Eleanor Kerrigan.
Not many people would have pegged Clay for a family man, but he’s effusive in his praise for his ex (“She’s the best female stand-up in the country”) and both Max and his youngest son, Dylan, a water polo player who’s eyeing college. It’s this one glimmer of a soft spot that makes his onstage persona—one that has no soft spots whatsoever, save for his affection for the hot chicks in the front row—that much more thrilling to watch.
Clay is all about delivery, and you get the feeling that much of his past controversies were due not to the content of his act but rather the confrontational nature with which he dispenses his Brooklyn-gone-wild witticisms. He’s merely talking about life, he says, however vulgar it may be. “Seinfeld does the same thing, just with a suit.”
While clay preps a reality show about living in Vegas and “having an ex who’s with the new wife all the time,” the “Dice” train keeps rolling. He’s got concert dates scheduled throughout the country and is currently meeting with writers about an autobiography. Stand-up, however, is still his primary focus.
“I think it’s the greatest business in the world,” Clay said. “It’s got its ups and downs. There’s always going to be potholes in the way, but you go around them, you go under them. That’s what life is to me. Things get real tough—OK, they’re tough, but tomorrow’s a new day. And that’s how I always look at life.”
Riviera, 10:30 p.m. Feb. 2-5, 9-12, $49.99-$89.99 plus tax and fee. 702.794.9433