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Andrew Dice Clay

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By Esther Lynn

The first and last time I saw Andrew "Dice" Clay perform live was in the 1980s. He was one of the acts in Mitzi Shore's Comedy Store lineup at the now just-a-memory Dunes Hotel.

This then unknown, to me, comic was presented along with a group of performers that included family-friendly comic/impressionist Louise DuArt, the charming and ladylike Tamayo Otsuki, and the late sit-down country comic Ollie Joe Prater - all more than suitable to take grandma to see. Can't say the same for The Diceman. "Blue" doesn't begin to describe this comedy warriors' material. Black and blue might be more appropriate.

Was I shocked by his material? Yes. And I wasn't the only one. The next time Clay performed as a Comedy Store act at the Dunes, it wasn't as part of the early evening lineup. This time he was the opening and middle act as well as the headliner, presented by himself in front of a late-night, all adult audience.

Much like the late Redd Foxx, who was promoted as a XXX rated act, Clay also needs to come with a warning label. His shows are not for the squeamish or faint of heart. Don't take the kids or the preacher's wife to see Dice, unless they don't understand English. Politically correct? Not for a minute. Women, Asians, African-Americans, gays and other minority groups are all fair (or unfair) game for Clay's barbs. Heckle him? Don't even try. It would be like verbal suicide, with the audience member trying to take on an atomic bomb using a feather to defend him- or herself.

Once you hear Dice's take on nursery rhymes such as Jack & Jill, Little Miss Muffet, Old Mother Hubbard, Three Blind Mice, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Hickory Dickory Dock, you will never again think of Mother Goose (ooops!) in the same way. There is only one example I can give that MIGHT get by the censors ..."Little Boy Blue. He needed the money."

Born in Brooklyn in 1958, Andrew Clay Silverstein was in show business while still in his teens - as a drummer playing at neighborhood parties and bar mitzvahs. By the time he was 20, he knew he wanted to be a comic. He didn't want to be JUST a comic, he wanted to be the "Greatest stand-up comic ever." With his father Fred as his manager, for a number of years, Dice was one of the busiest, highest paid comedians in the country. Looking like Marlon Brando in his 1953 "The Wild One" role, the black leather jacket-wearing, cigarette-smoking Bad Boy was out for more than just laughs. The Shock Comic's bluer than blue humor packed auditoriums around the country and filled Madison Square Garden more than once. His plan of attack and his style of humor worked...for a while. In 1989, the doo doo hit the fan.

Following his appearance on the MTV Video Awards show that year, due to all of the profanity, Clay was banned from the network. The following year, Clay's booking as guest host for Saturday Night Live caused even more controversy when regular cast member Nora Dunn boycotted the show in protest of his crude remarks about women. Dunn never returned to SNL.

"It's not about the controversy," insists the comic, "it's about being funny, and being funny means saying whatever you feel like saying to make people laugh. I'm not saying this to 5-year-olds. I'm saying this to adults. I never incited riots. I did gay material, I still do the sex material, but it wasn't to hurt, it was to make jokes. If you take away the people, what are you going to say? What are you going to make jokes about? Trees?"

For a short period, Dice tried to change his image. He shortened his name to Andrew Clay and took the lead role in Bless This House, a squeaky-clean, profanity-free CBS sitcom fashioned after The Honeymooners. It was decided that Clay's character would not talk, dress, or behave in any way like Dice. The show lasted less than five months.

Clay has made some movies, including Pretty In Pink and The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, and guest starred on a number of TV series, among them M*A*S*H, Diff'rent Strokes, Crime Story, Dharma & Greg, Rugrats, Chris Rock Show and Howard Stern. Over the span of his career Clay has put out multiple comedy albums (needless to say, they come with an Explicit Lyrics label), all of which have earned Gold or Platinum awards for sales. He has been nominated for two Emmy Awards, earned several box office sales records for comedy concerts, had three HBO specials, and been the focus of a concert film taped at Madison Square Garden.

The Bad Boy of Comedy is definitely not for everyone, but if you are of an open mind, not easily offended and think of Howard Stern as a man of peace (Tough Talkin' Dice makes Stern sound like a rabbi), a visit to the Luxor would be a great way to spend an evening. On the other hand, if your comedy heroes are people like Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart and Ray Romano, you might want to pass on this booking. Consider yourself warned.

Addendum: Rumor has it that Dice is really just a "character" and that, in his off-stage role, Andrew Silverstein is a caring and loving family man. Give that man an Oscar!

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