How “The Diceman” came into existence is not a story. It’s a book.
Andrew Dice Clay will be the first one to tell you that — unapologetically — blurring the line between his on-stage, macho persona who shocks and offends, and a man who apologizes for only having 10 minutes on the phone, and then gives you 20.
Clay will play the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Friday night, reminding audiences why he was the first comedian to sell out Madison Square Garden for two consecutive nights in 1990 and even survive career suicide.
Branded as controversial, the comedian was banned from MTV, shunned by on-air talent of the time, and dropped by his manager. Fast-forward 20 years, and he would stage a remarkable comeback, one that led to a role in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” and eight-time Oscar-nominated “A Star is Born.”
On Monday afternoon, Clay caught up with the Sag Harbor Express, barely able to contain his excitement over visiting the East End with his opening act, Eleanor Kerrigan, fresh off headlining the Sirius XM comedy tent at Sonic Temple Festival.
The Sag Harbor Express: How are you feeling about coming out to Westhampton Beach this weekend?
Andrew Dice Clay: After what I just went through at Sonic Temple, it’s a breeze. Literally a breeze. I just did 35,000 people in Ohio. I actually love doing comedy in much smaller venues. I know this is just a little theater and I’ve been enjoying the comedy clubs, the little theaters and, like I said, after what I just went through with nearly 40,000 people, I know why I love it. Comedy is a very intimate thing. I’m the guy who created the “stadium game” with comedy, but that’s also, I was 30 years old.
When is the last time you were on the East End?
Clay: The last time, which is funny, that I was in the Hamptons was really before my career went through the roof, and there was a little hotel there and they had a club, and I did it once or twice. That’s more than 30 years ago — before I made it.
What was your reaction when you started seeing that success?
Clay: I always knew it was gonna happen. Well, I’ll put it to you this way: I knew I was either gonna be the biggest thing stand-up ever saw, or nothing was gonna happen. I didn’t have a comedic persona, I had a rock-and-roll persona, and it was a bigger-than-life persona. I was either gonna be it, or back selling suits in Brooklyn.
But I knew it was gonna work, only because I would see how audiences would respond to me when I was sort of an underground act that was filling clubs everywhere from Tennessee to Texas, all the way to Long Island, the East Side Comedy Club. All the way across the board, I was selling out 200- and 300-seat clubs without even being known yet. I was pretty sure that when I got the right break, I would be the biggest comic the world ever saw. And that’s what happened.
Do you consider the Diceman to be a part of you?
Clay: Yeah, of course. There’s a lot of different sides to any human being. I cry like anybody else, I laugh like anybody else, but growing up, I was always in the leather jackets. There was always a certain attitude about me.
My material today is way different because I don’t live off of material I was doing in the ’80s and ’90s, when the world has spun so much and the world lives their whole life through looking down at a screen. I’m very relevant in my comedy — and not rehearsed. My rehearsal is getting on stage and maybe whatever went on or what was talked about that day, and people would think it’s a polished bit.
Do you plan to take any digs at the East End?
Clay: You’re talking about that it’s wealthier people, that kind of thing? The people that come to see me, they’re coming for one reason: The Diceman. I’m not coming to see them. Trust me, I couldn’t care less where I perform, who’s in the crowd. I treat them all the same: terribly.
I always look forward to performing, that’s the thing with me.
Did your role in “A Star is Born” feel like a step back from your on-stage life and the Diceman persona?
Clay: Other than the show “Dice” that was on Showtime, all I’ve been doing are these oddball acting roles that I always wanted to do. But of course, there was a lot of backlash to “Dice” years ago, and I didn’t get that opportunity. That’s all fine with me, now that I’ve gotten to do them, because I always knew I had some kind of ability with acting.
From Woody Allen to Martin Scorsese and then getting to work with Lady Gaga, which is who I did most of my scenes with in “A Star is Born” was pretty amazing, because she was that amazing playing her first gigantic starring role. The girl was intense. She wasn’t Lady Gaga the pop star or the ballad singer. She was Lady Gaga the actress. We had a lot in common, as far as being live performers that are now doing dramatic roles. And she was stellar — as a person and as an actress.
Do you prefer one to the other — live shows versus working on films?
Clay: Yes. I like the live stuff better because I don’t really like hanging out on a movie set all day and night. I get too bored and too antsy and too much waiting — it’s the expression, “Hurry up and wait.” They really rush you to get there and then you’re there and it could be two hours before you even go into makeup.
But once I’m finally on the set and doing the scenes, that I love. Because then I just turn into whatever it is I need to be, and go wherever it needs to go inside of you, and pull those emotions, find those emotions. I love the art of acting. I just hate the method of how long it takes to get up to the f—–g set.
Even when I do a live performance, I’m not hanging there for hours before I go on. I don’t mind being there for a half hour. I like to watch Eleanor, because she’s just f—–g hysterical, and audiences don’t realize what they’re gonna get when they see this girl walk out. I look at her sometimes and I go, ‘Maybe I should go on before you,’ because she’s that great. I love her. I just don’t like to wait.
I hope you have a plan for getting out here on Memorial Day weekend.
Clay: I ain’t going when there’s traffic, I’ll tell you that. I will get there without traffic, trust me on that one.
Clay: No, trust me. It’s already been planned out. I don’t believe in traffic. I’ve been all over this world, I’ve been everywhere, I don’t get stuck in traffic — no way, no how, not ever. I know there’s one road in, one road out. They can kiss my balls.
But when they come to see me, I’ll be there, and they’re gonna walk out very happy.
Andrew Dice Clay will perform on Friday, May 24, at 8 p.m. at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, located at 76 Main Street in Westhampton Beach. Tickets range from $131 to $171, and this show is inappropriate for age 17 and under. For more information, call (631) 288-1500 or visit whbpac.org.