Sponsored

‘The Elvis of comedy’ Not even a pandemic can stop Andrew Dice Clay

In early winter, the cold put a stop to many outdoor performances that audiences and artists were turning to in order to navigate COVID-19 risks — but not for the legendary Andrew Dice Clay.

“I was one of the first big names to bring back a live performance. I couldn’t take it anymore. I was outside in the freezing cold. I was cold. The audience was cold. I had a giant hat, jacket, long johns, tons of layers with the leather jacket on top of it. I was surrounded by Plexiglass. I was Dice in a cage,” he said.

Clay was wearing so many layers he said if he dropped something “I couldn’t bend down and pick it up.”

He said he knew people missed entertainment and had been stuck inside.

“That’s why I went back out there,” he said.

Clay has an upcoming performance at The Ridgefield Playhouse and said he is glad to be able to do what he calls a “boutique tour.”

“I like that — it’s one show a night,” he said.

Without the pressure of a second show the same evening, Clay says it gives him the freedom to extend his show if the audience vibe is going well.

“If I feel like it, I can stay up longer,” he said.

Clay, an actor, musician, comedian and producer, rose to prominence in the 1980’s for his brash, wildly popular and controversial stand-up comedy. As one of America’s most outrageous comics, Clay has enjoyed a long, successful comedy career, having released numerous best-selling DVDs and CDs of his performances and starring in HBO and Showtime standup specials including “The Diceman Cometh” and “Indestructible.”

“The Diceman” was the first comedian to sell out stadiums on tour, including two nights at Madison Square Garden in 1990. It was his goal from the beginning.

“When I geared myself up to play live, I didn’t study comics at all. I studied Elvis,” he said.

Clay said the importance of large arena performances means you must “fill the stage.” This was also the advice he said he gave comedian Chris Rock.

“You have to move around up there. Comedians sometimes know nothing about performance. I was a drummer and singer. I geared myself up to play gigantic places,” he said.

Clay also said today’s comedians are facing a lot more of “cancel culture” and they can lose everything with a single joke. He gets younger people commenting on videos of his old shows and saying how different it is now and how they loved the 80’s and 90’s era.

“They say, ‘We need Dice now,’” he said.

Regardless of today’s perceived environment, Clay says he didn’t change who he was then, and he’s not changing now.

“I am not handcuffed to this. I was the original cancel culture. I took the hits for everyone. I was the guy who had picketers and people defacing my billboards. I just kept going,” he said.

“When I’m on stage, I say whatever I want, and nothing’s changed. My show is fun because I don’t care. I never did. I have a job to do. No matter what, I must make them laugh. I like them to laugh harder than they ever have,” he said.

Despite his joy at playing big arenas — with his achieved goal to be the “Elvis of comedy,” Clay says small venues are truly where comedy is meant to be performed.

“Playing small places is where you can work the material and dig into the crowd. You can’t do that in a sports arena,” he said.

Clay said that’s why he recorded “The Day the Laughter Died” at Dangerfield’s Comedy Club in New York City, which closed in October 2020, — to do the “ultimate late-night set.”

Never one to shy away from things that might be a hot button in comedy, Clay says he certainly makes jokes about the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I definitely joke about it. It’s organic out there. When you open up with ‘It’s nice to be out, but actually it’s good to be away from her for a while. You’re stuck with the fungus outside and she’s inside, you know, make it sound like a living hell — and just build off that,” he said.

Andrew Dice Clay will appear at The Ridgefield Playhouse on Thursday, Sept. 9 at 8 p.m. For more information, visit https://ridgefieldplayhouse.org/event/andrew-dice-clay/,