The R-rated comedian not the same person off the stage
Guy MacPherson – VANCOUVER PROVINCE
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Where: River Rock Show Theatre, Richmond
When: Friday at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $48.50-$58.50 at Ticketmaster
It always seems the most popular comedians are the ones least liked by everyone you know.
Try finding a Dane Cook or Larry the Cable Guy fan. It's almost impossible. Yet they sell out arenas while our favourites are playing to half-filled clubs. Makes no sense. It's like Yogi Berra once said about a popular restaurant: "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded."
There was a time, not too long ago, when an R-rated Fonzie clone was king of the comedy hill. Andrew "Dice" Clay broke all kinds of attendance records, all the while being despised by the press, his fellow comedians and the entertainment industry as a whole for his jingoistic, sexist and racist act.
"Everybody went against me," he says from his home in Los Angeles. "But the more they went against me, the more the fans were chanting my name. It was a crazy thing."
While Dice is clearly a character Clay has created, he admits it has him confused sometimes.
"It's hard even after all these years to explain who I am off the stage," he says. "It's puzzled everybody, including myself, because I am from Brooklyn, I do have a Brooklyn attitude."
The difference, he says, is he doesn't say the first thing that pops into his head when he sees a beautiful woman. "On stage I just say what people think and how they feel. And that's what makes them laugh. When you hit that button in somebody that they go, 'That's just what I was thinking!', that's what makes them laugh."
He still describes himself as an attack comic, but says his act is "less cartoonish" than it used to be.
"I've developed as a performer and the material is stronger and really truthful on stage," he says.
Clay, who's performing at the River Rock Show Theatre tomorrow, was never a big fan of comedy before first hitting the stage. He wanted to be a movie star. But instead of going to acting class, he started showcasing in comedy clubs, figuring that's where industry would see him.
His role models weren't Richard Pryor, George Carlin or Lenny Bruce, but Elvis Presley, Sylvester Stallone and Muhammed Ali.
"I decided I'll become the Elvis of stand-up," he says. "I will create that persona for people to have because it's been done on television, it's been done in movies, but it was never done as a stand-up comic. That why, as the career took off, there were more rhinestones on the leather, the collars were higher. That was all Elvis influenced. And it worked."
It sure did. Clay played just about every sports arena in America, often two or three nights at a time.
"You're talking anywhere from 45,000 to 60,000 people a weekend. I mean, it was ridiculous," he says.
After a 10-minute set that wowed promoters at the Pollstar Awards last month, there's talk of another arena tour, and Dice is appreciative. "It's really exciting. It's like lightning striking twice. I think I'll get to enjoy it a little more this time."
Of course, he's not all humility. Dice is still Dice: "I showed them why -- for all these years -- that I say I'm the best there is."