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:
The energy in the room is hot. Thank Joe Matarese and Wali Collins for that. They knocked down 46 minutes between them talking about relationships and explaining New York City to the out-of-towners in the crowd. I'm mostly focused on how that first Red Bull is still hitting me. And now the 10 o'clock hour is going strong with Chuck Nice, who you may know best as host of The Sizzler segment on VH1's Best Week Ever. "Welcome to the comedy gang bang!" Nice exclaims. He jokes that to get through these days and nights, we'll need a lot of meth. Really, though, he just wants some liquor. He wonders if he can order an Amstel Light from the stage. Yes. Yes, he can. "Can I get a scotch, too?" he asks. He might as well, as a black guy, he says he must have a scotch, too. "It's like peanut butter without the jelly!" As I type this, Nice is bumping and jumping and screaming onstage, describing the loud girl in a group you see out at night. The audience is liking this. It is 10:14 p.m., so far into what could be my own best week ever. Time will tell.
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...?"