In the late 1980s and early ‘90s, tough-talking Brooklyn comic Andrew Dice Clay was soaring, with a raw-humored act that included his notorious adult nursery rhymes (“Little boy blue…he needed the money!” was one of his tamer ones). But as a result of PC backlash, which, compared to today’s anything-goes Donald Trump/Daniel Tosh times, resembled a witch hunt, he crashed. But for Clay, living well is the best revenge. He returned with cameos in TV shows and movies (“Entourage,” “Vinyl,” “Tosh.O,” “Blue Jasmine”); a new arena tour (although he had to postpone a recent San Francisco date due to an injury); and his own series, the Las Vegas-based “Dice,” currently on Showtime.
You’re friends with Daniel Tosh, whose weekly “Tosh.0” program is far edgier than your vintage act.
I like Daniel Tosh a lot. And he had me on his show to play an attorney that just goes berserk. But he’s another guy that does what he wants, so on the set, he said, “You can just go as crazy as you want.” But do you know why he’s funny? Because he gets the goo of what he does. That’s the key to any great comic. You have to get the joke of what you do, the persona of your material.
In retrospect, Nora Dunn and Sinead O’Connor’s boycotting of your hosting appearance on “Saturday Night Live” in 1990 was just unconscionable.
That was all part of a time when the media was putting me under a microscope, like the banning from MTV (for his nursery rhymes). But when Lorne had me in his office and said, “Nora Dunn walked off the show. Because of you.” I didn’t even know who she was. But they weren’t renewing her contact, she had two weeks left, she was angry, so she wanted to cause a very heavy problem for the producer. So she just used me for her cause.
Any fan familiar with your show probably can’t hear “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick” without mentally adding your X-rated rejoinder.
That’s why they call me a pop culture icon now. And I still do them in concert – that’s like doing the hits. You always give ‘em the hits. So it’s good times for me right now. I’m really enjoying all of it, and I’m bringing back rock and roll comedy.
Was it weird, on a recent episode of “Dice,” watching Adrien Brody gradually transform into you for his play on masculinity?
I couldn’t believe that I was working with him. But he can get that involved in playing a part, and he was so into character it was driving me crazy. I would ask him, “Do you want an iced coffee?” and he’d say, “Not now.” In my voice!