June 8, 2013

The new Woody Allen movie seems kind of like "A Streetcar Named Desire"...

... with Andrew Dice Clay as Marlon Brando:



"'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.

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....
Interestingly, Heffernan's last paragraph brings up Woody Allen:
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....

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....
That Nazi analogy brought a fine letter to the editor, here:
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.

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.

R.P. Held
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").

72 comments:

Scott said...

Later, I found out that right-thinking woman were not supposed to assume the "that's not funny" position.

Q: How many lesbians does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: That's not funny.

ricpic said...

Your sisterhood destroyed him.

Joe Schmoe said...

I saw Dice Clay's show around that time, 1990, when I was starting college. I remember laughing at a few jokes, but overall I remember thinking he wasn't really that funny. By the end we just wanted to get out of there. My roommates and I loved a TV show at the time called Evening at the Improv. I thought a lot of the comedians on that show were funnier than Dice Clay.

So I don't think he was some casualty of a culture war. He had a schtick that worked briefly but was short-lived, and in general he simply wasn't that funny. He was outed by his own talent, or lack thereof.

Quayle said...

Shame on religious zealots.

Just because the letter "A" no longer carries shame doesn't mean today's fanatics aren't just as eager to pin on scarlet letters.

rhhardin said...

I know of Dice Clay only from Imus's Rob Bartlett doing his character.

Other than that, I assume he's a boxer.

Why is a boxer doing comedy was my withheld question.

Maybe it's part of the Mike Tyson comeback thing, I figured.

Ann Althouse said...

"Later, I found out that right-thinking woman were not supposed to assume the "that's not funny" position."

"not supposed" was supposed to not have that "not."

Sorry for the confusion.

I intended to refer to the classic lightbulb joke, btw.

Astro said...

Later, I found out that right-thinking woman were not supposed to assume the "that's not funny" position.

?? Does this sentence contain an extra 'not'?

It seems like it would make more sense as "Later, I found out that right-thinking woman were supposed to assume the "that's not funny" position."

--That even when he was funny, he was by definition 'not funny'.

Astro said...

Ahh, ok, fixed.

Ann Althouse said...

"I saw Dice Clay's show around that time, 1990, when I was starting college. I remember laughing at a few jokes, but overall I remember thinking he wasn't really that funny."

But that's what I thought the joke was. I thought it was similar to Andy Kaufman or (more recently) Neil Hamburger... that it was deliberately luring the audience to hate him.

Ann Althouse said...

Remember Andy Kaufman going on and on being deliberately completely sexist (often on SNL) and making women mad?

That was the joke.

ricpic said...

New York angst doesn't really fit San Francisco, Woody.

rhhardin said...

The movie looks awful. It needs car chases or something.

Mitchell the Bat said...

ADC made sense once you realized he was lampooning himself as a neurotic, self-hating New York Jew.

Henry Winkler knew not to go there.

Old RPM Daddy said...

I remember seeing Dice on some kind of compilation video; I think it was a Dangerfield production or something. The first few minutes were funny, with the dirt nursery rhymes and all, but after a while, it seemed like he was telling the same joke over and over.

Tank said...

For me, ADC fell into the category of: a little bit is fun, any more than that is too much. I thought he was dead.

Keep in mind that not everyone thought Archie Bunker was a buffoon. Lots of people were cheering him on too.

Ann Althouse said...

Here's Howard Stern yelling at Andrew Dice Clay, telling him his career is over (about a hundred times). At one point, Stern says: "Drop dead, pussy boy."

Paco Wové said...

I think maybe you should put joke in quotation marks.

That was the "joke".

More accurate, as I remember. I guess you could substitute 'art' for 'joke' to be more accurate -- "that was the art" -- as modern art has no purpose other than to be obnoxious and call attention to itself.


Jay Vogt said...

Tricky business, that.

Sarah Silverman make quite a fine living and is held in regard for her avant garde patina as she uses exactly the same "it's so obviously a spoof" device.

In the end it can be funny, probably is lazy and might be too revealing.

Paco Wové said...

Im in ur face shockin ur bourgeoisie, bitchez

Joe Schmoe said...

"that it was deliberately luring the audience to hate him."

Well, I didn't hate him. I just didn't think he was that funny. And he differed from Kaufman if Kaufman was trying to get your dander up. Clay seemed to be trying material just for his own amusement. For example, at the end of the show I went to, he spent the last ten minutes or so trying to get the crowd to chant "Suck my dick!" (just the men) followed by "And swallow the goo!" (just the women). I wasn't incensed, I wasn't laughing. It was just meh.

dreams said...

I never had a strong opinion of Andrew Dice Clay but I've never liked Howard Stern.

ricpic said...

I remember Clay having a long knockdown drag out fight with Artie Lang on the Stern show, this was like at least 8 or 9 years ago. Anyway, Lang had appeared as a guest comedian on a show that Dice had starred in and produced out in Vegas. And when Artie was done with his segment he expected to be paid, immediately, which is the normal way payment is made by the producers of those short run shows. And Clay wouldn't pay him, not immediately. He did pay eventually but all Lang wanted was an admission from Clay that he had been in the wrong and Clay wouldn't admit it. I mean he adamantly wouldn't admit that he'd been a ballbuster about paying. Not a nice guy.

Andy Krause said...

Howard Stern, the man who rose to fame on material like "Butt Bongo Fiesta" should probably shut up.

dreams said...

I liked Sally Hawkins in the movie "Happy-Go-Lucky" as Poppy.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1045670/reviews

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Alec Baldwin played Stanley Kowalski in a 1995 Golden Globe winning made-for-TV version of "A Streetcar Named Desire."

Phil 3:14 said...

Professor,
Do you miss Shouting Thomas and Crack MC?

El Pollo Raylan said...

Andrew Dice Clay and Howard Stern are arguably two species in the same genus. But if Woody Allen gives his approval, Clay must be worth a second look. We shouldn't argue with success after all.

El Pollo Raylan said...

I just had an epiphany: I look at Howard Stern in the same light that lefties look at Rush Limbaugh.

Ann Althouse said...

Here's that fight with Artie Lange.

Ann Althouse said...

"Professor, Do you miss Shouting Thomas and Crack MC?"

LOL. So you see them as our own (erstwhile) Andrew Dice Clay.

I think the point is -- as ADC's career shows -- it's something that can be done, but it needs to be done well, and if you keep saying the same thing too much or it's not interesting/funny enough, you'll lose your audience.

Ann Althouse said...

"I just had an epiphany: I look at Howard Stern in the same light that lefties look at Rush Limbaugh."

Yes, and they have the same birthday, which is also my birthday!

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

I don't have an opinion about Andrew Dice Clay but I do have an opinion about Alec Baldwin. How he is allowed in proper company is beyond me. Clay may have been rude and crude to generic women but Baldwin has been abusive to actual womwn and a little girl.

Howw is it that PC police get worked up about supposed harm to the general but never seems to get worked up about the specific?

El Pollo Raylan said...

Yes, and they have the same birthday, which is also my birthday!

Stranger than fiction!

dbp said...

I was, to the small extent I cared, split between thinking ADC is just not that funny and thinking that the sexist thing was just a shtick.

The thing is that the guys and it was only guys, who liked ADC; took him at face value. They liked the humor in the same way humorless feminists hated it.

edutcher said...

Andrew Clay (no Dice in his billing) was in a TV show with Cathy Moriarty, so this "comeback" is mostly marketing.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Isn't Lisa Lampanelli just Andrew Dice Clay in drag?

El Pollo Raylan said...

Yes, and they have the same birthday, which is also my birthday!

Was there some sort of common event 9 months before or something that confluenced the stars?

Titus said...

I never saw Andrew Dice Clay but I love Howard Stern.

George Takei against Westboro Church Family Feud was hilarious.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

April 9, 1950 was Easter Sunday.

But that wouldn't explain Stern who wasn't born in 1951.

April 5, 1953 was Easter, so Passover was near that, too.

Best I can figure.

Titus said...

The Wack Pack Hollywood Squares on Stern was amazing too.

I liked it when they had women compete for boob jobs too.

William said...

Andrew Dice Clay does a convincing imitation of an unappealing jerk. I don't think it's all an act. Woody Allen does a convincing imitation of an intelligent, morally aware human being I think a lot of it is an act.....I can't say that I have ever invested a lot of interest, even negative interest, in ADC's rise and fall. I did, however, like Woody Allen and viewed his scandal as a kind of betrayal.

Skyler said...

Yup. No one after the war in Germany was a real Nazi. And no one today really thought Clay was funny.

I just felt a need to expand on the Godwin schtick.

jr565 said...

Little boy blue. (Blew). He needed the money. OH!

betamax3000 said...

This made me look the following on Wiki:

"Unbelievable" is a song written and recorded by Gloucestershire indie/alternative dance band EMF...

The song contains samples of US comedian Andrew Dice Clay throughout the track, including the loud exclamation of "oh!" at the start of each chorus along with the words "it's unbelievable" spoken during the bridge.

Chef Mojo said...

I was watching a Sam Kinison vid the other day. Hadn't watched it in years. Wow. If he were around to put on that same sort of show today, he'd be crucified.

Never had much of an opinion about ADC one way or another. I always figured he was another Andy Kaufman type, pushing buttons and envelopes to the limit.

Woody Allen? Meh. I just don't get Woody Allen, I guess. Woody Allen is a "New York" thing, whose appeal is limited to New Yorkers and New Yorker wannabes.

And the French.

traditionalguy said...

Clay has gone out of style. His schtick was to display the unique power of an angry male bully. That was mildly interesting like watching MadMax car crashes in a destroyed culture. The Tennessee Williams southern culture had gotten to that stage in post war reconstruction.

But today's rules forbid anyone to act like a strong male bully. It is Taboo.

eddie willers said...

Q: How many lesbians does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: That's not funny.


If the thread had ended there, It would have been enough.

Joe Schmoe said...

Now I like all the other comedians/comediennes mentioned here. Lisa Lampanelli is actually kinda funny. There are two kinds of people who don't like Howard Stern: women, and men who haven't listened to him much. If you give him a long listen, I suspect you will like him, unless you are a humorless progressive Democrat (Howard is a guilty pleasure for evangelical so-cons who are willing to give him a listen). Sam Kinison is--or was--hilarious.

Woody Allen; have to say I'm not fully familiar with all of his work. But I did think "Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex" was funny, especially when Gene Wilder was in bed with the sheep wearing a garter belt.

Baron Zemo said...

I have long thought that Althouse was the Andrew Dice Clay of political bloggers.

Baron Zemo said...

Meade is of course Sarah Sliverman.

Baron Zemo said...

Or maybe Rochester.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Meade is of course Sarah Sliverman

Ouch! sliver me timber.

cf said...

Cate Blanchett is eating this role alive, delicious. woody does have a way of capturing amazing women. Dylan has that talent, too, but I do not mean to defile Mr. Dylan in the comparison.

Anyway, the last flash of this Cate is all Gena Rowlands meaty.
Yum. Thanks for the glimpse.

Mitch H. said...

I was too young for Kaufman and Woody Allen's prime, but ADC was from my youth. His schtik was... eh. OK in small doses, but he had no intellect behind the conceit. He was no Sam Kinison. Although Ford Fairlane was a passable comedy.

Woody Allen as a director could go crawl into a corner and die, as far as I'm concerned. You'll never lure me into another theatre showing an Allen movie.

deepfix said...

The really bad part of that article is right here:

"...says Andrew Dice Clay, proving that a guy from Brooklyn can handle the cadence of Woody Allen dialogue just fine..."

Woody Allen is from Brooklyn. His writing has always had a mid-century Brooklyn cadence. One of the reasons he cast Martin Landau in Crimes and Misdemeanors is that they both share the same Brooklyn accent.

There is some massive classism going on that article.

Strelnikov said...

"Right-thinking women" are always in the "that's not funny" position.

Ben Calvin said...

Irrespective of the film's merits, based on the trailer this doesn't feel like the Mission district at all. I live in an adjoining neighborhood and it may as well be taking place on Mars.

Jeff Gee said...

I’m with the ‘meh’ crowd, the act was one joke stretched out over 40 minutes. But it seemed self evident to me that he was playing a character and that that character was the butt of joke. During his heyday I was on the night shift in a bakery where we could bring in tapes to play while we worked. These were almost always music tapes, of course, but one of the guys brought in an ADC album and played it whenever the rest of us would let him. He was under the impression Clay was an observational comedian like George Carlin or Dennis Miller, and if you bumped into him in a bar, he’d be exactly the way he was in his act. He got so upset when one of the other guys told him he’d seen Clay on talk shows out of character that he accused the guy of lying. He was kind of a moron, I thought. But I’m looking on Nora Dunn’s wiki page and it says “she… boycotted an episode which was hosted by comedian Andrew Dice Clay because [she] found his misogynistic humor offensive.” Not the slightest doubt that the misogyny was ironic (or at least ironically intended). So maybe I’m the moron?

Unknown said...

Mitchell, every so often you post, and generally I notice something. You seem to think that you know something about Jews. Why is that?

jeff said...

Comedy is subjective and to say ADC wasn't funny, ignores his sold out arena shows. If there had been no ADC in the past that we have been instructed to consider beyond the pale, he could be a working comedian today. Probably not selling out arenas, but making a decent living.

rcocean said...

"There are two kinds of people who don't like Howard Stern: women, and men who haven't listened to him much."

You forgot the third kind: 98% of the USA.

rcocean said...

Whoever wrote the phrase "He has a face for Radio" must have been looking at Howard Stern.

Did you know he had plastic surgery? Yikes, how fucking ugly was he before?

But women find him sexy. Him and Bill "the dog face boy" Maher. Yet no straight man finds Sarah Berhard sexy. Why?

rcocean said...

I vaguely remember ADC. I concluded that just because humorless assholes find you unfunny, doesn't mean you ARE funny.

rcocean said...

ADC was trying fill an audience niche, he just didn't do it very well.

setnaffa said...

Woody Allen is a perv. The kind Dateline used to catch. Nothing else about the movie matters.

el polacko said...

if there's anyone san franciscans hate...besides republicans, of course...it's new yorkers.

Peter Gasperini said...

Hang on:
Here's some DEFINITIVE commentary, from a North Jersey guy who grew up in the 70's (me) -
ADC was HILARIOUS. He deliberately and grossly exaggerated the italo-american NYC metro area tough guy routine in a way that was both nostalgic homage and ridicule. Everybody from my era and home knew guys who were like that to some degree, and those guys were - despite whatever faults they had - our friends, and good ones at that. Why? Because they were HONEST about being GUYS.
Women who are put off by his routine are too stupid to understand he's making fun of them BEING PUT OFF BY HIS ROUTINE. He deliberately pushes their buttons. Rosie Perez, Annabella Sciorra and Marisa Tomei would know that and not get upset, because they fully understand what's going on (they're not dumb, shallow, mannequin-like creatures and can handle themselves, because they're NY metro gals - in other words, REAL PEOPLE.)For those of you who are 'men' that find ADC offensive, you're beneath contempt.
And, finally:
How many lesbians does it take to screw in a lightbulb? The answer is: THEY CAN'T, AND HAVE TO HAVE A GUY DO IT FOR 'EM.
I sincerely hope I offended some people with that, and if you are offended, YOU DESERVE TO BE, YA PUSSY.

Michael said...

I have some sympathy for the idea that Clay was done in by political correctness, but at the same time, most of the guys I knew who were really into his act were the guys whose feelings toward women always made me a little queasy. In other words, even if Clay was being ironic or self-satirizing, I think a lot of his audience were eating up the surface level of his comedy.

JMW said...

Very happy to see ADC in mainstream content again. I always thought he was a tremendous comic. One memorable line form his show: when a woman began to heckle him during his routine, he shut it down ferociously by simply saying "What's your name, honey, any idea?" The audience exploded.

John Reece said...

Ann Althouse: "Remember Andy Kaufman going on and on being deliberately completely sexist (often on SNL) and making women mad...."

You know, I often thought the goal of his women-wrestling routine was really to mock professional wrestling and its ridiculously over-the-top bluster and theatrics, not women. His women opponents were just foils/props.

bobby said...

There was absolutely nothing of "spoof" in ADC.

He was born without the gene for self control, which is a huge problem if you're a total asshole.

Brian G. said...

I still listen to Dice's old albums on my iPod today. You know why? Because today's comedians are a joke, no pun intended. None of them have the guts to do anything but bash white men, making sure you know they are talking about white men. And if the comedian is black, within 3-4 jokes he's on to the white people shtick. There is a reason why there is no comedian alive that could sell out arenas all over the country like Dice (and Eddie Murphy) did/ Speaking of Murphy, I recall reading a few years ago a reporter pushing him into a corner to apologize for AIDs jokes he made over 25 years earlier. Please.