Looks like the one-night pairing of Nick DiPaolo and Artie Lange on FOX Sports Radio was enough of a success that the duo is looking to make it a full-time deal.
TMZ.com caught up with Lange and DiPaolo yesterday and asked what's up. TMZ says the duo is in talks with FOX Sports Radio and DirecTV for their own show.
Lange's reply: "We're definitely going to be having some chicken parmesan in 10 minutes, but we don't know about the air yet."
Asked what Howard Stern would make of this, Lange added: "Howard's the greatest guy in the world. He's been supportive of everything that's happened and he's been a good man to me, so hopefully he'll be supportive of this, but you never know."
Artie Lange fans will be heartened to know that Lange will talk on the radio tonight live, but it's not on Stern. Nope. Lange and fellow comedian Nick DiPaolo will be filling in for Tony Bruno on the 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. shift (times Eastern) on Fox Sports Radio.
Let's hope that this is as an encouraging turn of events as it seems.
Related: Listen to FOX Sports Radio online.
(Via The Laugh Button)
UPDATED: With a photo from inside the FOX Sports Radio studios of Lange and DiPaolo together, quotes, and audio in case you missed it live tonight!
In a weird bit of timing Saturday night, as Greg Giraldo was rushed to a New Jersey hospital, Artie Lange was making steps toward his comeback in New York City, appearing at the Comedy Cellar and performing onstage there.
Craig Gass, who -- continuing the weird coincidences, was Howard Stern's temporary comic relief sidekick before Stern hired Lange full-time -- had flown into New York City to appear on Stern's show Monday morning. Gass talked about seeing Lange at the Cellar. According to Gass, Lange's opening line on Saturday night was this: “Well, I sure am glad that Fashion Week is over, because I am fucking exhausted.”
Gass also snapped this TwitPic of himself and Lange on the sidewalk outside of the Cellar, and wrote as the caption: "Good to be back in NYC and run into people I haven't seen in a while..."
It's just good to see Lange alive and out and about again.
Programming Note: You'll see half of his hour-and-half DVD recording tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern on Comedy Central -- followed by most of it later in the night (1 a.m. Eastern) uncensored as part of its "Secret Stash." It's said that most of Lange's material had not been recorded on CD or DVD before now. So for that, I'll excuse his reliance on jokes about Brokeback Mountain in 2010.
Lange's performance, recorded last year at Gotham Comedy Club, is decidedly no-frills. But when the frills of an Artie Lange live show typically include the crude and immature antics of his "Howard Stern" fans who have tended to ruin most of the live shows I've seen of Lange -- and by ruin, I mean constantly yelling out catchphrases and lines from the Stern show to rile up Lange and make it less a stand-up performance than a monkey show (do the tricks, monkey!) -- this stands out as a delight. It's a very measured, calm, confident Lange here. I hope Lange watches it on TV or DVD himself to remind himself that he is a talented stand-up.
Here's a clip. Roll it!
He makes repeated funny asides about how he doesn't want to be sued for some of his comments, and also gives a shout-out to Norm MacDonald after doing crowd work with an audience member.
There are funny lines, too, about getting nostalgic when he goes to Las Vegas ("Last time I went to Vegas, I went to my coke dealer's son's bar mitzvah."), being sober, talking about how much fatter he used to be, even while doing drugs, visiting Afghanistan to entertain the troops, and acknowledging how YouTube has captured every moment he has messed up in his life. An hour in, you'll also hear Artie Lange acknowledge his depression and how he looks at most things in life darkly -- as a segue into a bit about the Special Olympics. The joke about A-Rod is dated now that A-Rod actually did something clutch for the Yankees last October, but I suppose Lange is cool with that. Here is a clip of Lange talking about his trip to Afghanistan. Roll it!
He dedicates the DVD to his mother and Stace, and during the show, says: "I love my Mom. I love my sister Stacey. They saved my life, two good people. Actually, I should say they saved my life...again." They've had to do it at least one more time since he recorded the special. Let us all hope this time did the trick. He even closed out his special by asking Stacey to join him onstage, followed by the two cops who Lange said got him to stop using heroin.
The DVD extras include looks at his fans, extra material, and nice touch by featuring sets from his opening acts, Pete Dominick and Joe Matarese. Here are links to buy Artie Lange's Jack and Coke, on iTunes or the DVD via Amazon:
Strange but true in so many ways, when Artie Lange appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien in 2008 to promote his book, Lange told Conan that he was making a big mistake in agreeing to move to Los Angeles and taking over the Tonight Show, suggested he let the "bobblehead" Jay Leno continue to host it instead, and take NBC's $40 million penalty fee. Conan denied it then. "No. I don't think so," O'Brien told Lange. "Forty million dollars not to work? Sweet. I've got to look into that." Roll the clip!
As long as I'm being serious, let me point you toward this newly released phone call between comedian Artie Lange and the New York Post's Mandy Stadtmiller from Oct. 30, 2009. Hardly any of it actually made it into print a few days later when the Post previewed the New York Comedy Festival, but pretty much all of it is worth listening to. That'd be true even if Lange didn't try to take his own life a week ago -- it's more chilling now, naturally -- but you can hear what kind of frame of mind he was in a couple of months earlier here, because he was ready and willing to talk about his life and emotions in detail, no matter what the question was. I know I have been critical of Artie Lange's stand-up recently, although that had as much to do with his fans as it had to do with what he was joking about, and I also know that of all of the idiots in Howard Stern's morning radio circle, Lange is the most lovable, and on top of all of that, know that Lange needs help. So please. Help him. If you know him and interact with him regularly, intervene. Let him know you care about him and make him get healthy. Even if you don't know him, say something. I know that Sirius XM is not firing him (saw this in Entertainment Weekly online over the weekend), but more needs to be done. He needs people to make him get his life in order.
When word broke over the weekend about Artie Lange checking into a New Jersey hospital, I'm sure people didn't know whether to expect the result to be all hype, or whether to expect the worst. Well, it turned out to be the worst, as the New York Post's gossip column Page Six reported this morning.
The Lange fan blog, Save Baby Gorilla, did not want to link to the report, but is accepting flowers and other gifts to help Lange and his family through this time. And in another odd twist of timing (remember that Comedy Central announced on Monday its broadcast debut of Lange's DVD stand-up special, Jack and Coke, for later this month), The Onion's A.V. Club has a "new" interview with the comedian which must have taken place a month or two ago. In it, Lange talks about his performance on HBO's Joe Buck show, and how some audience members may perceive him unfairly. The interview closes with Lange talking about joking now that he's not under the influence of drugs and alcohol, with him saying:
"It’s strange, but in a good way. A lot of performers think they’re better when they’re fucked-up. They’re not. It’s good to be telling jokes in a clear and concise way. The tough part is the downtime. It’s not being onstage, it’s what to do on the road. I like to get right out of there. As soon as I get offstage—if there’s a meet-and-greet, it’s gotta happen before, cause I gotta leave. It’s better."
For those of you who want to jump to obvious conclusions, giving Lange so much downtime last month wasn't a good idea. This morning, Howard Stern felt he needed to address Lange's situation somehow, and over the course of 20 minutes, he did so without directly saying what had happened, but also saying quite a bit, and also taking a few calls from listeners.
Over the weekend, TMZ.com's network of gossip spies broke the news that comedian Artie Lange checked into a New Jersey hospital for undisclosed reasons, with a representative confirming that news but refusing to comment further, declaring it a personal matter. The Internet being the Internet, rumors circulated unabated, and it didn't help that Lange hadn't been on the radio for about a month, and that Lange's tour dates had been cancelled. This morning was Howard Stern's first day back on Sirius XM with a live show since the holiday break, and Stern addressed the rumors. He opened with an unintentionally amusing misspeak, calling Artie "Jackie" as in Jackie the Joke Man Martling, the guy Lange replaced as Stern's comic relief sidekick. Here is the audio statement from Stern, saying he would honor the family's decision to keep this private, and also addressing haters on the Internet -- while also somehow managing to talk about Lange's greatest moments on the show, as if he wasn't coming back, and then shooting down the false speculation that Lange was being replaced.
File under: Timing! Comedy Central announced today that it would be airing the premiere of Lange's hourlong stand-up special, Jack and Coke, at 11 p.m. on Jan. 23.
The only thing people love making more than year-end list are decade-end lists, and some of them seem as much about generating page-views as they are about subjectively ranking things that should not be ranked. That's rank! So where are my lists? I've got something else up my sleeves for this December, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share with you the iTunes list of their choices of the 20 best comedy discs from 2009, along with my thoughts on said list.
For one thing, it's really across the board. Any list that puts Brent Weinbach side-by-side with Katt Williams is looking to appeal to all sorts. I'm not exactly sure I agree with everything on here, but then again, I haven't quite listened to all of them just yet -- there are stacks of CDs and DVDs in my apartment, and I hope to get through them all by year's end and share my own thoughts on them with you. I have listened to and reviewed eight of the iTunes 20; most of the rest are waiting in my queue, and a few I don't even have my hands on just yet? My loss or yours? Also, iTunes missed some great ones from the past year. No John Mulaney? I haven't heard Paul F. Tompkins new disc yet, but would presume it's worthy. And no ladies on the list? Not even Maria Bamford? Harumph. Here, then, are the iTunes choices from the year in comedy -- I'm not sure if they have a ranking order from iTunes, so I'll list them alphabetically:
In case you missed Artie Lange's tour-de-farce last night on NBC's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, well, you're in luck, because the show has much of it available online. And it was something, all right. Lange was the first guest and stuck around for the entirety, involving Olivia Munn in a running dialogue that kept Fallon in top giggle form, through a doubles ping-pong match with Fallon, Munn and Susan Sarandon (in a surprise cameo!), and eventually pretty much bumping David Chang, who only happens to be NYC's current chef sensation. At least Lange clarified at the last minute that he was goofing when he said Chang had given him ecstasy pills backstage, although when Sarandon asked aloud to Lange, "Are you high?" Fallon could only reply: "He's a bad guy to ask."
Let's rewind, and take a quick step backward to put this into context.
The last time I saw Lange in person, he seemed in fine spirits, mingling with comedians at Carolines for a book release party for Lisa Lampanelli. The next day, Lange reported to court in New Jersey to deliver a plea for a driving arrest this past summer. And then he virtually disappeared. When he re-emerged at his day job as Howard Stern's comedy sidekick on Sirius XM satellite radio on Oct. 20, Lange acknowledged in detail that he had suffered from a "mini nervous breakdown" and was likely scaling back on his stand-up touring schedule. But the comedian, now 42, has a new CD coming out and a headlining gig Nov. 6 at the Beacon Theatre as part of the New York Comedy Festival.
So Lange bounded onto Fallon's stage at 30 Rock to dish out some of his punchlines, and then some. Starting with jokes about A-Rod and Kate Hudson, then the gag about being on ecstasy.
The 34th season of Saturday Night Live certainly brought a lot of buzz and attention back to the show, and Lorne Michaels and company celebrated the end of that year with a bang that included plenty of starpower and nostalgia, plus a heavily implied farewell to Darrell Hammond, who completed his record thirteenth season as a cast member by returning for multiple sketches. We got to see Hammond reprise Dick Cheney and Sean Connery one last time on the show, and it's only surprising that we didn't get to also see him pull out his Donald Trump as well -- considering how much Trump was in the news with a certain Miss California (who could have been played by newbie Abby Elliott). But with star and SNL veteran Will Ferrell hosting, we saw just how much Ferrell mattered to the show earlier this decade, as he dominated the finale's proceedings from beginning to end. Even with all of the celebrity cameos and returning SNLers. Did I mention them yet? OK. We saw (take a deep breath now): Tom Hanks, Norm MacDonald, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Anne Hathaway, Paul Rudd, Elisabeth Moss and Artie Lange. With all of this happening, the current cast had much less on their plates to worry about. Good? Bad? It'll almost all make sense soon enough.
But first, a cold open from an NBC studio, and in the makeup chair getting ready for Meet the Press is one disgraced newly former VP Dick Cheney (Hammond), with Abby Elliott playing the makeup specialist. Ferrell shows up as his now Tony-nominated caricature of George W. Bush, trying to surprise Cheney and confront him about his newfound desire for media attention. Surprise fails because W. whispers too loudly: "That is one of the many reason I am no friend to libraries." Zing. We get it. They also poke fun at the current administration when W. asks why Cheney couldn't have been more like VP Joe Biden, going out for burgers and saying dumb things in public to make him look smarter. W. implies he has been watching a lot of Dr. Phil with his free time this spring. An OK, utterly predictable sketch, held together by the performances of the leads.
Ferrell's monologue attempts to re-establish his cred as a dramatic actor with roots in the theater, also with predictably disastrous results. Again, it's only Ferrell's sheer persistence that sells it. "Line?"
Talk about nostalgia. Our ad spoof for the night goes deep into the vault (Season/episode #26.11) for an oldie in which Ferrell sells his services as Wade Blasingame, Esq., attorney at law. Blasingame has sued more than 2,000 dogs. Because would you let a human do the things dogs get away with every day? Chris Parnell simulates the dog in scenes with Hammond, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Tracy Morgan and Horatio Sanz. If you want to look for such things, you might even notice that the way Ferrell, in particular, delivers his lines can suggest that SNL knew how to deliver lines awkwardly before a certain Tim & Eric came along (instead of the other way around). Anyhow.
In the theater, you could barely hear Lemmy from Motorhead, and not a lick of his theme song, but everything comes through a-OK on TV, including some fun banter between Norton and Lemmy. Also, making this episode his debut is quite a statement, whether Norton intended it that way or not, as he booked both Jim Florentine, a comic Norton introduced as getting him his first gig in 1990 (which makes it odd that it's now Norton giving Florentine a break), as well as Artie Lange, who as they used to say in the biz, works for a competing morning radio program. Lange's stand-up, which hadn't impressed me as much as his personal health deteriorated, sounded different on TV. His jokes about drug use sounded more like a plea for help from the audience. I know he since went into rehab, and hope he's doing better. The other two performers on the debut episode were relative youngsters Anthony Jeselnik and Whitney Cummings. They both did well, as they usually do. As I wrote after watching two of the other episode tapings, it really does come across as a white, suburban, rock version of Def Comedy Jam. Not that that's a bad thing. It will be interesting to see what Norton does next with the series.
The next new episode airs between 11:59 p.m. Friday and 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
Dana Carvey talks to the San Jose Mercury News about returning to stand-up after "semi-retiring" to be a husband and father: "I've been at this for 25 years," Carvey says. "I did SNL. I did some movies. My kids have grown up. I've saved a lot of money — that will go over good — and I'm having fun."
Lenny Clarke lives on Martha's Vineyard, and it's a rare but true thing to see him perform on the island, which he'll do Aug. 17 during a break from filming Rescue Me.
My friend and former colleague Lauren at the Boston Herald interviews Chelsea Handler about her latest book of essays, which has been a bestseller all summer. “When I got that news, I was like, OK, well, this must signal the end of the world. I’m on The New York Times Bestseller List? It’s not like I’m Salman Rushdie. I mean, I have a show on E!.”
Artie Lange is already out of rehab, and talks to SF Weekly about enjoying the Bay Area.
Russell Brand reveals to Defamer that he keeps up with pop culture and music, which is a good thing since he's hosting this year's MTV Video Music Awards. Brand describes Miley Cyrus as "confusingly attractive," the people of The Hills as having "the general air of louche attractiveness and easy availability." Here is a promotional clip with Brand, Britney Spears and the elephant in the room. No, really.
This is an early review! HBO just taped four episodes of a new stand-up showcase, Down and Dirty with Jim Norton. It'll air this fall (update! debut is midnight Oct. 4, with other episodes premiering Oct. 11, 18, and 25) They taped two episodes last night and two tonight at the BergenPAC in Englewood, New Jersey. At last night's tapings, things got, well, down and dirty.
Al Jackson, who I'm watching on Last Comic Standing as I type this, deserves special honors for his work warming up these rowdy crowds. He got some serious laughs and comedy points during the intermission between shows (an intermission that didn't allow the crowd to move) with material about being a teacher and a story involving his first trip to Starbucks.
Fans literally lined up around the block in this suburban Jersey town for the shows, which Norton promoted on his MySpace and via the Opie & Anthony show. Did I mention the crowds were rowdy? Alrighty then. I still haven't gotten full confirmation from HBO on this, but the first night's shows sure seemed like a suburban, white, rock version of Def Comedy Jam. Norton hosts all four shows and does about five to six minutes upfront, and there's a special podium set up for Lemmy from the band Motorhead, who introduces Norton and contributed the theme song. The fans clearly were on board with Norton from the get-go, welcoming him with a standing ovation.
In the first show, Norton opened with a funny bit about our past and present New York governors and their sexual tendencies. Russ Meneve came out first, and when some guy in the audience shouted out during Meneve's first bit, I got more than a bit worried that this crowd wouldn't know how to behave at a TV taping. They settled down, though. And they laughed and laughed. They gave Meneve an applause break when he joked that his last four girlfriends had died in sailing accidents. They continued laughing throughout the night. Joe DeRosa, whom I first encountered opening for a rowdy audience waiting for Dave Chappelle, certainly held his own with an opening bit about what life really is like for comedians on the road. Ari Shaffir went next, though, and attempted to steal the show when he ended his set with a joke about being ready for a blowjob anytime, demonstrating such by dropping his pants and his underpants for a full frontal moment. A moment that continued when he stood like that, then walked away with his pants still down. Hours later, Shaffir told me he didn't warn the HBO folks about his Full Monty moment, because he figured a warning might only result in HBO telling him not to do it. Then again, it is HBO. Moreover, he didn't really give them any chance to edit around his penis. So to speak. Let's see Carlos Mencia try to steal that bit. Norton's retort? "He looks like me, if I was taller and had a clit." Jim Jeffries got introduced as a special guest and had a funny opener about getting a ride home from an audition, followed by his story about coming down with a case of penis cancer. Audience naturally loved him. But they gave a standing ovation welcome to the first show's headliner, Andrew Dice Clay. Yep. He had his leather jacket, giant belt buckle, sunglasses and cigarette. No nursery rhymes. Instead, some different ancient premises that boiled down to dick jokes, black dick jokes (Siegfried and LeRoy???) that resulted in his philosophical outlook on how black men are ruining us. Or something like that.
The second show last night couldn't help but seem tamer. Norton opened that show with a few quick jokes about breaking up with his girlfriend (somehow Facebook alerted this to me first?!) before launching into his extensive breakdown of a video that I have seen (thank you, Joe Rogan?) of a man dying in Washington state a few years ago after allowing a horse to have sex with him. Indeed. I did say this show seemed tamer, though, and that was because the first few acts weren't quite as aggressive, even if they were still raunchy. Louis Katz introduced his own sex move, the Vengeful Louis, and closed with reasons why premature ejaculation is not necessarily a bad thing. Kevin Shea, introduced as Korean-born, also informed the crowd that he was college roommates with one of the YouTube founders-turned-billionaires. Jason Rouse, Canadian, living in England, started with a topic DeRosa had covered earlier but took it in a different direction. Rouse's jokes weren't just filthy but also somewhat misguided. After one joke, Rouse even said, "I know I'm going to Hell for that joke. But f#@k it, it's warm, and I'll know people there." Patrice Oneal closed out the second show with 15 minutes about how he's gotten creepy as he's gotten older. It's funny because it's true. But also because he's really not that creepy.
They filmed two more episodes tonight, with headliners Bill Burr and Artie Lange, and a lineup that looks more subversive (wish I'd seen that!) and includes Anthony Jeselnik, Whitney Cummings, Andy Andrist, Sean Rouse, Geoff Keith, Jacob Sirof and Jim Florentine.
What in the world has happened to Artie Lange? He recently quit his job as Howard Stern's sidekick, only to reappear Monday after the show's weeklong vacation. Lots of drama. Maybe tonight, some answers. Lange appears as a special guest on Nick DiPaolo's BlogTV talk show, broadcasting live from DiPaolo's house starting at 9 p.m. tonight. So if you want to know what's going on, tune in tonight to find out!
If the lineup for the 7th annual Gerry Red Wilson Foundation comedy benefit didn't warn me, then the crowd waiting outside Town Hall on March 5 should have...as much as the comedians onstage wanted to celebrate and honor their late friend, the audience in the seats wanted jokes about sex and hating their girlfriends/wives.
Host Greg Fitzsimmons, who serves on the foundation board and noted onstage that both his wife and his son have contracted meningitis since Wilson died, had to face the rowdy crowd first. When he said he'd moved to Los Angeles, the crowd booed. "Great. Fine. Boo a city," Fitzsimmons replied. "I hate living there, too. You don't have to tell me." He then surveyed the crowd and found more than a few Opie and Anthony fans, and even more Howard Stern fans. "Why can't they get the (Sirius-XM) merger done?" he wondered. Having surveyed them thusly, Fitzsimmons went straight into dick jokes and stripper jokes and porn jokes. He did get a strong adlib riff out about the spotlight guy's gaffe after a joke about how nobody's having sex with Asian men.
Pete Correale saw the afterwork party crowd and addressed them immediately with bits about drinking and partying, then veered into material about being married and having single friends. He ended his 16-minute set with airplane jokes.
Jim Norton didn't care what the audience wanted. He spent the bulk of his 16 minutes on the 2008 presidential campaign, with thoughts on Hillary Clinton ("She's not a good enough actress to hide what a fraud she is"), Barack Obama, John Edwards, John McCain ("Do you really trust a Vietnam vet with the button?") and Rudy Giuliani. Norton also weighed in on the San Francisco tiger attack from Christmas. These choice bits had immediate repercussions for Nick DiPaolo, who had to follow Norton and still wanted to make his set political. DiPaolo has recently started an online talk radio show, but he managed to remain bitter enough onstage to unleash some questionable bits on race, homosexuality and women. And in case you're wondering, he's also nostalgic for drunk driving and cocaine.
Which proved enough of a transition for Artie Lange. "Do I look tired?" Lange asked. "This is one of those cocaine nights." Lange really needs to get it together. Sure, his fans might be appeased by seeing this mess play out on the radio and onstage, but Lange has to regain some focus on making himself better, not just comedy-wise but also health-wise. He joked about his gambling habits and winning big on the Giants, saying he should've bet that he'd live longer than Heath Ledger. Then he segued into old and beyond hack material on Brokeback Mountain. At least he apologized for it. "Yep. That's the most updated bit I have. I had to use Heath Ledger to get there," he said. Dozens of people stood up and walked out once Lange finished, not to protest him, but because Lange was the only reason they'd come to this show.
Dave Attell, up next, tried to get their attention with: "Who leaves a benefit early? A c*nt, that's who!" Attell tried tackling the tiger attack but the crowd had already heard that from Norton. But Attell turned it around with some choice one-liners and a strong bit about presidential candidates withdrawing early "for the good of the party."
That left it to Louis CK to bring the show home. After an opening line about masturbation, he had the audience in his hands for the next half-hour, with several of the honestly raw hits you'll see in his next "Chewed Up" special.
Fitzsimmons returned with a cardboard checking representing a $50,000 donation to the Meningitis Foundation of America, and said they should have another $20,000 to donate in the coming week. If you'd like to make a donation or learn more:
17 Battery Place, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10004
Starting this afternoon, you can get your hands on tickets before anyone else for the Gerry Red Wilson Comedy Benefit show, to be held March 5 at Town Hall in NYC with performances by Dave Attell, Louis CK, Pete Correale, Nick DiPaolo, Greg Fitzsimmons, Artie Lange, Kevin Meaney and Jim Norton. That's a heckuva lineup.
Tickets for the general public go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday. But you can get them now via The Comic's Comic's Comic's Comic's (wait, that's too many comic's) promotional Ticketmaster offer. Click here!
An aspiring TV and stand-up career cut far too short. A native New Yorker, Wilson graduated from Queens College and began teaching in the city's public schools. On nights and weekends, he pursued a career in comedy. He got his first big TV break with ABC and the 1998 midseason replacement sitcom That's Life, and had a development deal with FOX that he was working on another sitcom for when he contracted the disease that took his life.
Seven comedy benefit shows have been held since then, raising more than $200,000 for organizations such as The Meningitis Association of America. Tickets for the March 5 show run from $44.25-$74.25. Donations also can be made directly to the Gerry Red Wilson Foundation by check.
Before I get to recapping the year in comedy, circa 2007, let's look back at some of my more illuminating, insightful and interesting comedy interviews from the year.
My sit-down with Ricky Gervais has to take the top spot in my mind, because his strongly held opinions on sticking to your creative guns and not sacrificing your beliefs in your own sense of humor (and humour) are words that any creative artists -- whether they're comedians, musicians, writers or actors -- can live by.
A close second, then, has to have been my September face-to-face with Dane Cook. Arguably the biggest headliner in the country this year and last, in terms of tickets and CDs sold, Cook met me in a Manhattan hotel lounge as part of his promotional tour for Good Luck Chuck. But we barely talked about the movie, instead tackling every question you've probably wanted to hear Cook answer, and then some. He even brought up Louis CK!
Speaking of whom, Louis CK was just one of the many other bright lights of comedy I got to talk to at length in 2007 -- the others included Nick Swardson, Christian Finnegan, Jim Gaffigan, Michael Ian Black, Eddie Brill, Bob Saget, Artie Lange, Doug Benson, Damon Wayans, Charlie Murphy, Frank Caliendo and Tim Minchin. Of course, there were hundreds of other comedians I got to witness and talk to this past year, and hopefully, I'll get to tell you more about all of them in 2008.
Artie Lange told me just a couple of weeks ago how happy he is doing comedy since he joined the Howard Stern show. I wish I could say the same about attempting to watch him perform in front of a Town Hall crowd full of Stern listeners. Imagine hundreds of hecklers, shouting insults and catchphrases throughout the show. The entire show. Unbearable.
As for Lange, he's not as sharp as I remember him from a few years ago. He's out of shape in more ways than one. Perhaps it's from coming to terms with the Stern factor, knowing that most shows will attract these hecklers and fans who just want to hear him talk about things that have happened on the radio program. But this show wasn't all about Lange. In fact, he came out first and acted as the host of the evening, delivering a half-hour of jokes and inside Stern stuff before bringing out three of his favorite comedians: Joe Matarese, Jim Florentine and Nick DiPaolo. With his 20 minutes, Matarese made a big effort to make himself known and remembered by the Stern crowd. Florentine, who just started dating longtime Stern sidekick Robin Quivers, knew his limitations. "I played a retard on TV. What'd you expect out of me? Did you think I was going to be highbrow?" He walked the entire row in front of me. Lange said DiPaolo is funniest when he's angry, and I'd agree, though I'd add that DiPaolo tends to play to the back of the room. His opener: "Tonight, Town Hall, in front of 1,000 people. Tomorrow, Banana's in Poughkeepsie. F--k this business!" Lange then introduced his "surprise guest," who turned out to be Stern regular Beetlejuice. The little guy tried out a few minutes of material that made no sense at all, in part because you couldn't make out what he was saying other than "Did you see the guy...?"