"'Back when your sister had all that money she wanted nuttin' to do with you; now that she's broke, she's movin' in,' says Andrew Dice Clay, proving that a guy from Brooklyn can handle the cadence of Woody Allen dialogue just fine."
He has less (and much grayer) hair and has put on a few pounds, but the 55-year-old is still unmistakably the guy who once upon a time sold out Madison Square Garden two nights in a row – the only comedian to date to ever do so.It's great to see Andrew Dice Clay make a comeback. Do you remember how he was destroyed? Interesting to think about how Woody Allen might empathize with a man's destruction, but what happened to ADC is nothing like the problems Allen had. I remember the first time I saw Andrew Dice Clay — on TV, doing his typical routine — and I thought it was obviously a spoof of exaggerated masculinity. Later, I found out that right-thinking women were supposed to assume the "that's not funny" position.
Researching his downfall, I come across various indications of a comeback effort. He was on "Celebrity Apprentice," and he had a reality show in 2007 called "Dice Undisputed," reviewed here, by Virginia Heffernan, who said, referring to his career in the 90s:
He was known above all for being sexist. He attracted boycotts. He was banned from MTV. Sinead O’Connor and Nora Dunn both refused to appear with him on “Saturday Night Live.” Apologists said he voiced a particular kind of male rage (which he now believes is back in style), while sensitive, right-thinking women felt free to despise him even though his stuff was tame compared to later hip-hop.Was male rage back in style in 2007?
“Who, after 1990, will remember who Andrew Dice Clay was?” is the question at the top of the new program — asked by Jane Pauley....Remember Jane Pauley?
[T]he pain of “Dice Undisputed” is that he has evidently spent 17 years brooding on the havoc political correctness wrought in his career.Interestingly, Heffernan's last paragraph brings up Woody Allen:
Because the world-historical significance of that career is not entirely clear — Rodney Dangerfield outdid Mr. Clay as the outer-borough lunk, and nearly any old rapper is more incendiary — it’s not all that satisfying to watch him try to revive it....
Think about it. Eddie Murphy befriended a transvestite. Woody Allen married his girlfriend’s daughter. Both seemed to be culturally left for dead at the time, and now each is at the top of his game. So what got you, again, Mr. Clay? “Political correctness”? Unbelievable.Apparently, in 2007, "political correctness" was a boring old complaint.
Ah, here's what I'm really looking for: a NYT piece from 1990. It's by John J. O'Connor (boldface added):
Popular entertainment does, after all, have a revulsion threshold. Andrew Dice Clay should know. He stepped over it and is now desperately trying to salvage his career as a stand-up comic....That Nazi analogy brought a fine letter to the editor, here:
Here is the perpetual bully, right out of the high-school locker room, erupting with the hostility of a certain lower-middle-class kind of white, uneducated, heterosexual male....
[S]ome observers have argued, persuasively, that Mr. Clay's blatant appeals to bigotry and sexual insecurity have crossed the line into profound obscenity, and that there is room, certainly, for a response of profound disapproval. It does not follow that as the Constitution protects free speech, the exercise of that speech cannot be criticized.
Anyone who has witnessed a Clay performance, with its mostly white, mostly male audience shouting and rising to its feet with clenched fists, comes to a fresh realization of what a Nazi rally must have been like. Surely the labeling of women as little more than disposable slabs of flesh contributes to crimes against them. Surely the scathing depictions of homosexuals adds to the burgeoning statistics on gay-bashing. Mr. Clay's act works off of the basest instincts of society. Disapproval is not only warranted; it's demanded.
Mr. Clay's present bind provides little room for gloating. The tough character has suddenly turned pathetic....
Those who lived through the years of real Nazi rallies cringe at the arrant nonsense of comparing an Andrew Dice Clay audience to that at a Nazi rally.... For better or worse, Mr. Clay's audience laughs! The one expression that was totally missing from any Nazi rally was laughter. More than that: Nazis hated comics who ridiculed them - first the Volkischer Beobachter and other Nazi organs attacked them relentlessly, stressing the ''intolerable insult'' the very existence of such comics was to the ''soul of the people.'' Once they were in power, the Nazis arrested and tortured the comics and, if they survived that, dispatched them to death camps.I don't know if R.P. Held's letter had anything to do with it, but 1990 was also the year when Mike Godwin started the meme that became known as Godwin's Law ("As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1").
It would be a welcome change in the public discourse if when commenting on a phenomenon like Mr. Clay, flippant comparisons, references to inapplicable historical precedents were kept out and the adjectives and adverbs were commensurate to the subject at hand.