When Andrew “Dice” Clay first hit the mainstream no one used phrases like “woke” or “cancel culture.”
Clay still got an early dose of it when select comedians and reporters alike tried to take him down.
It didn’t work.
“Saturday Night Live” player Nora Dunn famously took a knee rather than share the stage with Clay during his one and only hosting appearance. Media reports savaged his comic misogyny, suggesting he was bad for the culture at large.
As recently as 2019 the far-Left New York Times asked, “Does Society Need Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay?”
Now, the 63-year-old Clay is reflecting on those early days and saying the obvious. A young comic wouldn’t dare drag a persona like the “Diceman” on stage today.
You couldn’t do it. All these guys are getting destroyed for saying anything. I don’t know how long it’s going to take for that stuff to end…. You gotta start having some fun again in the world. When people are taking the time to change the word “manhole” to “maintenance hole,” are you kidding me? These are the issues?
Those observations aren’t what made him a superstar. Think R-plus rated rants that spoke to the inner rage men feel from time to time. He was dirty, naughty and raw, and unapologetically so on stage.
Fans lined up to see him, while cultural observers recoiled that he didn’t sprinkle social satire atop his outrageous bits.
That stage persona never truly went away, but Clay’s career quickly flamed out. His 1990 feature, “The Adventures of Ford Fairlane,” flopped, as did a subsequent concert film, “Dice Rules.” He never quit on stand-up, but he expanded his career to the small and big screen. His Showtime series “Dice” showed a quasi-real version of himself, lasting two seasons.
His reinvention wasn’t over, though.
Sly roles in “Blue Jasmine” and “A Star Is Born” flashed considerable range for a one-hit comic wonder.
Now, he’s on the road again, telling jokes he says his peers can’t share.
“They love it more than ever because all these other comics are getting pounded for saying anything offbeat. If you’re a young comic and you’re doing a big special, you’ll have the network going, “You can’t say this joke or that joke.” That could wreck a comic’s whole act and keep them from hitting the level they want to hit. That would frustrate me.”
Clay contends his controversial legacy, a la Don Rickles in his later years, helps him avoid the PC Police these days.
“I’ve sort of been grandfathered in, so now I can say and do whatever the hell I want.”