Andrew Dice Clay is, in most ways, a character in the comedy performance of Andrew Clay Silverstein. Silverstein can slip in and out of character faster than he can flick a cigarette lighter. He frequently refers to himself in the third person, as he speaks of Andrew and Dice. These are two very different people, at least in his mind. Andrew is showing a more complex and authentic side of himself in Showtime’s Dice.
Andrew Clay Silverstein is a shy, gentle person with a full range of emotions. In the past, Silverstein used the character Dice Clay to hide his softer side from the public, but he told Esquire he was starting to reveal himself more. Silverstein’s stage persona is a carefully crafted character, that has become larger than life. Dice is confident, often arrogant and pretends to be a womanizer. He approaches people with ease. He is bold and never shows fear or nervousness. Andrew Silverstein is not like that.
“When I got interviewed, I gave them the one note they see onstage. There would be no vulnerability, no emotion.”
Andrew Dice Clay was the first stand-up comedian to sell out Madison Square Garden for two consecutive nights. He made movies, stared in TV shows and had a tremendous cult following. Richard Prior once confided that Dice Clay was the best comic he had seen since himself.
So, how is it possible in ten years time, Andrew went from Madison Square Garden, to performing in the back room of a Los Vegas Sushi Restaurant? Silverstein told Esquire what happened, in a phone interview.
“I peaked at one point in my life, I got a lot of backlash for it, but I have such a strong belief in who I am as a performer, that I would not bend [and get] angry at the business. When the press started coming after me in ’89, I couldn’t back down from that. I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. Dice was not self-deprecating. It was a comedic superhero.”
Andrew Dice Clay was a casualty of the politically correct movement. He had a great career one day, but the next he was being boycotted, banned and blackballed at every turn. His brand of shock comedy was not PC. He retreated to Vegas, but even there he could not find work.
Dice Clay told The New York Times, most people never really understood what his character was about. The joke was always on Dice Clay the whole time. It was never intended to make fun of women or gay people, it was meant to poke fun at attitudes, and egos. It was a parody.
“There were people who didn’t get the point of what I was doing. They would say I say the things people think. But I tried to paint these bigger-than-life crazy cartoons, to make them laugh at it.”
Now, Andrew Dice Clay is on the rise again, after nearly 30 years of wandering in the wilderness, or more like cracking a few jokes at a sushi joint. Silverstein is gaining traction, but he has a different story to tell this time.
Andrew Dice Clay’s new show, Dice, is not about his meteoric success, his shooting star fall, or even his fabulous come back. It centers around his mediocre life in Los Vegas a few years ago, trying to make a living from playing black jack in the casinos. It is about feeling like a failure and struggling to stay afloat. Esquire quotes Silverstein explaining the difference between playing himself in the new show, and playing Dice Clay.
“When I’m on stage as the comedian, it’s basically one note. The people love it. They laugh. But actually being able to play myself, with all the different sides of my personality, is actually what I enjoy doing. In reality, I’m a heartfelt guy. Doing this show, I get to show people a little bit more about myself, that he’s a real human being, that he hurts like everyone else, that he cries.”
Andrew Dice Clay was a created character, but there is so much more to this great comedian and accomplished actor than one character.
[Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]