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ORANGE COUNTY CALENDAR: ARTS, ENTERTAINMENT, LEISURE
| Comedy

The Role of the Dice Is Same After 5 Years

Comic Known for Coarse Routine Returns to the Road After Spending Time With Family and Playing Vegas

November 17, 2000|DENNIS McLELLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

He's back.

Andrew Dice Clay--the swaggering, foulmouthed, macho man from Brooklyn--has a new comedy album out and has launched his first nationwide tour in five years. He brings his lewd and crude brand of comedy to the Sun Theatre in Anaheim on Saturday night.

Love him or hate him, it seems the Diceman's still got it.

His first show since the Sept. 12 release of his new album was at the 3,500-seat Beacon Theatre in New York City in late October.

"Tickets sold out in 35 minutes," said an obviously pleased Clay, who was even more thrilled by the 13,000 fans who turned out a few nights later for his show at Madison Square Garden, where a decade earlier he became the only comedian to sell out the legendary venue not one but two nights.

"I didn't even put 13,000 tickets on sale [this time]; we put 10,000 on sale," Clay said from his home in Los Angeles. "The amazing part was that it was during the Subway Series in New York on the night the Yankees won the Series. No one expected the crowd I got because of the Series."

Clay burst into the national spotlight in 1988 with an appearance on a Rodney Dangerfield HBO special in which he portrayed his newly minted, sex-obsessed "Diceman" persona--that after a 10-year career with an act that Comedy Store owner Mitzi Shore once deemed "too bland."

Between 1989 and 1995, the new Bad Boy of Comedy went on to star in three HBO specials, two pay-per-view specials and a concert film. He also sold out 20,000-seat arenas, where his raucous fans greeted him with the kind of fervor usually reserved for rock stars.

Many loved him, but others despised his X-rated act, which, as Times critic Lawrence Christon once put it, "focuses almost exclusively on genitalia."

Clay was banned from MTV for life after his profanity-laced appearance on the 1989 MTV Music Awards. "Saturday Night Live" cast member Nora Dunn refused to appear on the same show with the misogynistic and gay-bashing comic, and singer Sinead O'Connor did the same.

Segueing into acting in 1990, Clay starred in the critically lambasted "The Adventures of Ford Fairlane." Later in the decade, he starred in the short-lived family sitcom "Bless This House" for CBS and co-starred in the even shorter-lived music industry sitcom "Hitz" for UPN. He just returned from Vancouver, where he shot a presentation tape for a potential series called "Colosseum," in which he plays a Chicago hustler/fight promoter transported in time to ancient Rome.

But if it seems as though Clay disappeared off the stand-up comedy radar screen in recent years, he didn't. He performed repeatedly at Bally's in Las Vegas for 11 years and a year ago signed a $20-million contract with the Venetian Hotel.

"I haven't cut down on the stand-up, just where I've been doing it," Clay said. "I just wanted to do isolated gigs and slow down a little because for about four or five years that's about all I was doing, and I got to the point where I wanted to take it easy, be with the family and, you know, be grounded."

But then, he said, "I decided to put out another CD and just go crazy again."

His new album, recorded at the Roxy on Sunset Boulevard late last spring, has a title that includes a three-letter word unsuitable for a family newspaper. The album's bottom line is Clay's usual subject: sex.

Judging by the response Clay said he got from his audiences in New York, his fans are thrilled to see him back onstage.

"The response at the Beacon Theatre was absolute mania," Clay said. "I've seen everybody from 'N Sync to Marc Anthony--you know, rock-star performers--and I've never seen [anything like this]. Girls were getting undressed, they were screaming. Normally, you come onstage, you get big applause and you settle into your show; this never settled down."

So, what made the difference?

"I think the excitement of the resurgence of Dice . . . putting a big album out now and starting this tour and just getting back into the ring to become champ."

In discussing his act, Clay frequently refers to himself in the third person.

"Dice--that's who I am as a stand-up," he explained. "To me, my performance style is who Dice is. It's a persona. It's a certain image, a certain way of saying things. There are no barriers with me, really. I break down every wall; I cross every line."

How different is he offstage than he is onstage?

"It really doesn't even matter," he said. "When people are paying to see you, they're not paying to see a family man. They're paying a price to laugh and see a great show."

Clay said his show at the Sun Theatre will be "a mixture of stuff, because I've done so much material. I've done like seven albums. Of course, there's the new stuff, but it's sort of like the Anthology Tour, and what comic does an anthology tour?"

Has the new CD reinvigorated him as a performer?

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