Artie Lange: Out of Rehab & Looking For "Balance" As He Begins Touring

By Paul Gaita 09/24/19

"This is when the hard work begins. It's not one day at a time; it's really one moment at a time," Lange said.

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Artie Lange
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After exiting a three-month stint in rehab on September 10 with seven months of sobriety under his belt, comedian Artie Lange announced his return to the stage with a string of live dates in the Northeastern United States.

"I'm blessed to be alive," he told the Times Union in a September 19 interview, where he was also quick to acknowledge that maintaining a sober life and a busy schedule would provide challenges. To counter that, Lange said that one of his priorities was to find a "balance."

New Material

Lange, who spent much of 2019 in rehab facilities and halfway houses, told the Times Union that he used that time to work on both his personal and professional lives. That eventually produced a follow-up to his best-selling 2008 memoir, tentatively titled Rippin' & Runnin': Life on Drug Court, as well as 14 hours of new stand-up material.

"That's what I do—mine my life for humor, for stories," he said. Even the darkest moments provided the inspiration for comedy. "There'd be a crazy thing that was happening to me on the road, I would go in my head, 'Wow, this is a scary situation I've got to get out of right now, but it'll be great for the stage.'"

Though Lange appeared to be ready to resume his comedy career, he admitted that the challenges are ever-present. "This is when the hard work begins," he noted. "It's not one day at a time; it's really one moment at a time."

His Nose Serves As A Reminder

But as he noted with rueful humor, he had a constant reminder of the dangers inherent to falling back into his old behavior patterns. Every time he looked in a mirror, he saw the wear and tear weathered by his nose from decades of drug use.

"I will eventually fix it," Lange told the Times Union. "But now it's a reminder of what happened to me and the nutty life that I somehow lived through, and hopefully young people will see what can happen. I look like a boxer. I never got a fight in a ring in my life; I fought with drugs and addiction. I want to keep it now as a reminder, to keep me good."

For Lange, "good" means maintaining sobriety and celebrating milestones that he thought impossible to achieve while actively pursuing his addiction. He noted that he will have eight months of sobriety on September 30 and mark his 52nd birthday soon after, on October 11. "I didn't think I'd make it to 50, that's for sure," he said. "I didn't think I was ever going to be an old person."

To assure that those and other milestones are within his grasp, Lange said that his focus for the immediate future was to strike the right balance between all the aspects of his life. "I've got to get that," he said. "Absolutely."

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.