Artie Lange: Howard Stern "Did Not Understand Addiction"

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Artie Lange: Howard Stern "Did Not Understand Addiction"

By Paul Fuhr 07/16/18

The comedian opened up about addiction, alcoholism and his relationship with former boss Howard Stern on an episode of the Dopey Podcast.

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Artie Lange
Photo via YouTube

Artie Lange, best known for his gig as the “everyman” sidekick on The Howard Stern Show, recently opened up about how addiction destroyed his relationship with the legendary shock jock.

Lange’s struggle with substance abuse has been lengthy and highly publicized. Over the years, the troubled comedian has routinely bottomed out while in the spotlight, ranging from canceled stand-up appearances to his suicide attempt in 2010.

He’s also had his police mugshot taken a number of times during his career, including three arrests in 2017 alone. Still, perhaps the most infamous fallout from Lange’s demons remains his firing from Stern at the end of 2009—a blow that clearly casts a long shadow across Lange’s career. 

Guesting on the Dopey Podcast, Lange revealed just how unmanageable his life had become in 2009 thanks to cocaine, heroin, pills and booze. Despite seeing the root of his problems, Lange’s behavior ended his otherwise wildly popular run on the radio show.

Even worse than his addled on-air appearances, Lange suggested, was the uncomfortable position he had put Stern in.

“Howard did not understand addiction. He gave me the best job ever and he is a genius,” he affirmed on the podcast. “I was on the show for over eight years, but towards the end I was a complete addict.”

Lange likened his relationship with Stern to “a son-and-dad kind of thing,” which potentially made Stern’s decision to fire the comedian more complicated.

Lange also disclosed that he was earning $4 million a year from The Howard Stern Show, in addition to a variety of other opportunities, such as a starring role in the 2006 comedy Beer League.  

Shortly after being let go from Stern, Lange’s drug problems and depression worsened. In 2010, he attempted suicide. And while Lange eventually recovered from the incident, it’s obvious that he hasn’t entirely gotten over being fired from the highly-rated program.

In recent months, Lange has even taken to blasting his former boss on social media, threatening to post Stern’s private phone number online. Interestingly, as Lange continues to escalate the feud, he doesn’t fault Stern when it comes to comprehending the true depths of his addiction.

“He didn’t know the extent of it. There’s no way he could’ve,” he told Uproxx. Lange added that even though Stern couldn’t grasp just how far gone the comedian was, he tried to get Lange the help he so desperately needed.

Stern even connected him with a therapist, put him into a treatment center, and encouraged him to take all the time he needed to find sobriety.

During the podcast interview, though, Lange indicated that Stern’s efforts were as generous as they were futile. Lange was straightforward and serious about the reality of his addictions, admitting that he might soon relapse and never find long-term sobriety.

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Paul Fuhr lives in Columbus, Ohio with his family and two cats, Vesper and Dr. No. He's written for AfterParty MagazineThe Literary Review and The Live Oak Review, among others. He's also the host of "Drop the Needle," a podcast about music and addiction recovery. More at paulfuhr.com. You can also find Paul on Linkedin and Twitter.

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