Andy Dick Takes on Howard Stern - Page 2

By Joe Schrank 09/21/11

America's most compulsive comic on addiction, AA, Jews, Sex, Pills, Pamela Andersen, Coke, Courtney Love, Rehab—and his furious feud with his old pal, Howard Stern.

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Comic Release: Andy Dick Comes Clean

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Show business would be a difficult place for a Jew-hater.

That's very true, but I'm not a Jew-hater. If I hate somebody—and that’s a very strong word—I will hate that person briefly, as an individual. I’ll just be like, “I can’t stand that person,” and that’s how I was with Howard at that moment. I was just very upset, and I still kind of am, that I had spent two years trying to help him get Sirius satellite radio off the ground. He called me—this is all part of the delusion I was in, thinking we were friends, he’d call my cell phone and say, “I want you to have your own show, Andy, do whatever you want whenever you want, just come in and do your own show,” and I was like, “That’s phenomenal,” and we both agreed that I wouldn’t get paid, but eventually I would. Two years later, after I started saying, “Am I going to get paid? It would be cool if I could pay my guitar players and musicians,” because my show is very musical—it’s called The Shit Show, and I now do on my own: you can get it on ITunes for free. When I started it back up, it shot up to number three. I honestly feel that he’s just nervous that I can do what he does but I’m not a shock jock. Sometimes I even wonder if he’s doing all this—he got all somber when he was talking about his Jewishness, and it’s like, “Really?” He used to be this shock jock, now he’s not shocking at all. Nothing really is in this day and age. So we were doing my show on his Howard 101 station and some incident happened where some people stole some equipment, and they said they were with me but they weren’t with me: they actually caught the people and they had nothing to do with me, I didn’t know them, and they admitted that it was their lie to get into the building. They probably listened to it and just said, “Let’s say we’re part of The Shit Show.” I wasn’t even there, it wasn’t on the day I do my show, but they blamed me and they fired me. They fired me from a job I wasn’t even getting paid for.

People judge me, and they talk shit about me. If this is how they treat someone with the disease of alcoholism, it’s inhumane and utterly ridiculous.

How do you fire somebody who's not being paid?

They said, “We no longer need you,” plus they had filled up all their slots with all these other shows. I love The Shit Show, and so do other people. On my Facebook page today someone wrote, “Where’s The Shit Show?” and somebody else was like, “Yeah, what’s the hold up?” Because I haven’t been able to do it since any of this stuff that’s been going on in my life.

Do you think sobriety is harder for celebrities?

No. It can be harder, but it can be easier. There are obviously people who are not celebrities that have a horrible time and die, then there are people who are celebrities that don’t. The disease, as they call it, of alcoholism, is not picky. It has no prejudice one way or the other.

It’s the one truly egalitarian system in America.

I disagree on that part. People judge me, and they talk shit about me, and that irks me, because they probably know someone—I can guarantee they know someone—who is having the same struggle, whether privately or they know about it, and it is a struggle. It’s a struggle between life and death, and if people knew how fucking hard it was and how serious it was, and if they just looked around in their own lives and saw some person they loved and the struggle they’re going through, they would lay the fuck off of me, or people like me. They really would. My skin has been hardened over the years—it’s gotten very, very hard, like alligator thick, rough and hard. It’s taken years and years of people shitting directly on my head, but I think a person, if they were…I have a perfect example of it, the husband of the wife from the Beverly Hills Housewives, he got it all thrown on him all at once, and if it happens all at once like that, you kill yourself. It’s easy to just say, “Fuck this shit, if this is how people think…” People like us [addicts] will concentrate and focus only on the negative and be like, “Really, this is how everybody thinks?” And no, it’s not, what about your family, your friends and the people that love you, and your fans that fucking love you? You have to accentuate the positives and eliminate the negatives, you have to. Or I would hang myself from a shower curtain, I really would, I would have a long time ago. It’s absolutely ridiculous how people treat…I don’t even like to call it a disease, I’ll use your term and use the world’s term: if this is how they treat someone with the disease of alcoholism, it’s inhumane and utterly ridiculous.

Do you think addiction is genetic or related to how people are raised?

I think it’s a combo of every single thing. There’s no rhyme or reason to it: you either have it or you don’t, and it’s taken over or it hasn’t, and it’s either hardcore or not. I see people who say, “I’d prefer it if this person in my life did not drink, or didn’t drink so much,” or sometimes I see a person and I’m like, “That guy needs to have a fucking drink.” There’s so many gray areas to alcoholism, as you call it, it’s so hard for me to even just say that it’s a disease, it’s very hard for me to say that, because I believe there are many, many different flavors: I feel it comes in way more than 32 flavors.

Is total abstinence the only way?

I know that it is always personally the best way for me, but I’ve seen people—there are people in my life that can just cut way the fuck down and have a little, little bit. Someone I was dating…I don’t know if I ever saw her drunk, and then there’s people who shouldn’t not drink because they get suicidal. It’s like, pick up a drink before you pick up a gun.

Do you worry about your kids being addicts?

Luckily, I think one of them made it out of the jungle alive and kicking: he’s doing excellent, he’s 23, and he just kicks ass in every way. I have a 16-year-old and a 14-year-old, and the youngest is the only girl in the group. Those two, I’m trying to be there for them in these very formative years, and I don’t want to talk too much about my kids, but it’s tough, it’s really tough, not only what I have put them through all these years, but now being sober, just how I’m experiencing what they’re going through, and I worry way too much. It’s just frustrating when you feel helpless and you feel like you can’t do anything.

Getting onstage and making people laugh is a daunting challenge. Has using helped or hindered your career as a comedian?

I wouldn’t be who I am without drugs and alcohol, I wouldn’t be where I am and who I am, because I don’t know if I’d ever get over the hump of that first fear. I remember going onstage and I had to have a margarita, and I switched over to rum and Coke, but back then, I’d just have a few, one, two or three. I think when I auditioned for Second City, I might have had five, but over a period of time, I was so petrifyingly nerve-racked, I didn’t feel like I could get a line out of my mouth, or I’d have visible jitters onstage. I got into Second City with my audition: I was very lucid and smooth. But over the years, I’ve tried every single combination of drugs and alcohol, onstage. I was a comedy alchemist, trying to come up with comedy gold, trying to find out what’s the perfect chemical mixture I can do so that when I’m onstage, it’s just coming out of me perfectly? There’s no such thing. The best thing I’ve experienced in my whole life is 100 percent sobriety when I’m very grounded, I’ve been meditating, I’ve been exercising, I’ve been eating right. I know this sounds corny, but it’s when I’m this empty vessel where the comedy’s coming out of me, and I don’t even know where it’s coming from. It’s godlike, and I know that sounds weird to people, but if I’m not in a good place or I haven’t been taking care of myself—if I’m unhealthy, I’m not meditating, because I do transcendental meditation, that’s one strange thing that Howard Stern and I have in common, we both do transcendental mediation, and have for years, 15, and I’m 45 now. So if I’m not in a good place in the past, and I’ve been able to have one or two glasses…

I used to have this great chemical combo, it was pineapple, chocolate—that’s what Letterman would eat, a little bit of dark chocolate, a little pineapple—then one glass of red wine. When I was completely sober, I’d have dark chocolate, pineapple, and some green tea. So even in sobriety, I was experimenting with that, because I need to be a little bit up. If I could go onstage right this second, I’d be great. I feel great, I’ve been taking care of myself, I’ve upped my game on my health, self-care. But the tricky part to drinking or using drugs and going onstage is you think you’re funnier than you are. I have an album out where half of it…I did this on purpose, but I don’t say it anywhere on the album, I just did it for myself, and it’s on my damn iPod and I hate that it’s on my iPod, because when I go jogging, it will come up, and there’s one side of it where I’m drinking, a live show, and the other side is a live show in a whole other time period in a whole other city, and I’m not drinking, and I just remember the drinking one being better—I thought I was more smooth and this and that, but when I’m sober and listen, I say, “Oh my God, I just sound retarded.” I can just hear that I’m not clear, and the quality of my voice. The best medicine for comedy, to me, is sobriety: it’s the best thing to do. But if you just live in the meetings, it’s not good enough because a lot of those people are extremely addicted to caffeine and nicotine. I had a guy watch me go on—a sober companion—and he told me he doesn’t even drink water, he just drinks soda, and he smokes like a chimney, and he was very unhappy. 

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Joe Schrank is a writer and social worker in NYC. He was one of the founders of TheFix and is a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post, Gawker, Salon, and Fox News. Intoxicant-free for 18 years, Joe remains a depressed disgruntled alcoholic. You can find Joe on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.

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