Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay: ‘I don't mind a little controversy,’ doesn’t worry about being politically correct
In "The Filthy Truth," Andrew "Dice" Clay chronicles his incredible rise, fall and triumphant return. Born in Brooklyn, Andrew Clay Silverstein started out in comedy clubs eventually becoming the first comedian to sell out Madison Square Garden two nights in a row. But Dice's meteoric rise brought on an angry backlash from the media. In the mid-‘90s, reeling from a bitter divorce, Clay put his career on the back burner to concentrate on raising his two sons. Now, the original rock and roll comic is back, winning raves for his roles in "Entourage," and "Blue Jasmine." He talked to FOX411 about his career.
FOX411: You were the biggest stand-up in the ‘90s.
Andrew Dice Clay: Nobody has ever done to this day the kind of concert performing I've done. I did over 300 arena shows which is like over 12 million tickets sold and that went on from '89 to '94.
FOX411: You write a lot about how many women you slept with.
Clay: I was 21 years old. I'd just moved out here to L.A. from New York. There was a different set of rules with women. When I was 19, dating a girl, I was a complete gentleman. I would never look to make a move on a girl for months and then when I came to L.A. I said, “Wow this is interesting. They don't even care if you take them out for dinner.”
I also wanted this book to be inspirational for people. To see a guy who didn't grow up in the business, didn't grow up with wealthy parents that had a dream about really accomplishing something in his life and bringing to people something they'd never seen. Like when Elvis came along, no one had ever seen a rock star like that before or move like that. So I wanted to do that in comedy and give the world the biggest stand-up they'd ever seen and just to see how I wouldn't back down no matter what I ever went through, to this day I don't back down. I always go for it.
FOX411: You were considered very controversial.
Clay: I don't mind a little controversy. I never set out to be controversial. I just wanted to be a great performer and speak the world of what was going on. There were comics that set out to be controversial. I just wanted to be a great comic and actor and live the dream and do something with myself other than working in a clothing store selling suits for the rest of my life.
FOX411: You got a lot of criticism for your gay jokes.
Clay: I never had anything against gay people at all. I never liked when I saw shows when a parent would find out their child was gay they would disown them. Come on? Just say your kid was doing something to show you he liked girls but he's really a gay man. Why would you want that kid just tortured his whole life, not leading they life they want to lead? I've told my own sons, “I don't think you guys are gay but if you were I want you to know I'll always love you as much as I love you this moment.”
That's why I liked when Ellen [DeGeneres] and Rosie O'Donnell came out. I have such respect for them going, “Hey I'm just going to be me. I can't live this lie anymore.” On stage as jokes, when I was doing that gay material it was just talking about what goes on, and it's funny like “what's so heavy about all of this?”
FOX411: Do you feel like things are more politically correct now?
Clay: I never paid any attention to that. I just think that's stupid. Everyone trying to show, “I'm good people and this is the way life should be led.” You know what I guarantee? Anyone of those people [gets] cut off in their cars they're yelling, “F--k you” like everybody else. All of a sudden you're not so politically correct when you get angry.
FOX411: Do you think Nora Dunn boycotting your appearance on "Saturday Night Live" hurt your career?
Clay: No, Nora Dunn was one of those things that just enhanced my concert career. Nora Dunn really did that move because she had two weeks left on her contract from what I understand, and that was more a move against Lorne Michaels, so she just used me. If I was doing "Dice" on "SNL" I would have wound up making movies like The Blues Brothers did, like Farley did so she knew damn well...
No human being with any kind of scruples could walk around and be that guy and live till 30 years old. On stage, I use my comedic mind and I'm outrageous. As a human being that's not who I am.
FOX411: So "Dice" is a character not you.
Clay: Exactly. It's a stage persona. I'm sure Elvis didn't wear a glitter outfit around the house but he'd get on stage and he'd be in his jumpsuit. When I go on stage people don't want to hear, “My son came home with a beautiful picture he made in the first grade.” I'm up there making people laugh.
We live in a filthy world where anything goes. Go to the internet. Since my kids were babies I would keep them off that internet. I would say, “It will wreck your mind if you go to those sites because it's not what real life is about, that type of sex.” I had to explain it to them because it could twist a kid's mind up. All of a sudden he's 20 years old and he thinks his first girlfriend should be with five other people and him because that's what's allowed in the world.
It's the sickest stuff in the world. If you're 50, 40, you want to go look, well you're already who you are and what's the difference but when it's an impressionable 8-year-old, 12 or 18 or even a 25 year old looking and saying, “Oh so that's how it goes?” I make fun of the stuff on stage but it's out there and adults come to see me.
FOX411: You were quite the gambler.
Clay: My thing was never about money. I'm making a lot of money. Through the years it went in a circle. No matter what you do at a blackjack table, what you win it's not an accomplishment. I quit for 10 years. I stopped playing in 1990 because I would do it out of boredom. I would win or lose half a million on any given night but it didn't bother me because I was just killing the time and I was pretty good at it like everyone thinks when they win but it's a cycle. You win it; you lose it. You win it so I stopped and then about five years ago before things started getting better, I was getting threatened foreclosure on my home so I started playing blackjack again and winning money to take care of us and then I met (screenwriter) Bruce Rubenstein who with one call to (“Entourage” creator) Doug Ellin changed my career and from that it went to a special and Woody Allen and now Martin Scorsese. I can't even believe it. I'm proud of myself that I didn't fold.
FOX411: You were out of the spotlight for quite a while.
Clay: I went through a bad divorce. Both of my sons live with me so I figured it was way more important to bring them up rather than get my next little movie role or whatever it might be. I did smaller concerts or clubs to pay my bills but I would tell my sons, “Wait till I push the pedal again. Wait till I turn it on again,” because I like to teach them by example.