Interview: Andrew Dice Clay

andrew dice clay

Andrew Dice Clay is one of America’s most controversial and outrageous stand-up comedians. Banned from MTV and many other television and radio stations, and opposed by women’s rights and LGBTI groups internationally, he has been a polarising force in comedy for more than 30 years. He’s also one of only a handful of comedians to have sold out Madison Square Garden two nights in a row, and has a considerable acting career under his belt. For the first time ever, Clay will appear on Australian stages, as he brings his ‘The Diceman Cometh Down Under’ tour throughout October.

First of all, why has it taken so long for you to come to Australia?

The truth is I really don’t go anywhere. I don’t leave the States. Australians have always been coming to see me here so I just figured, why not. They’re cool people. They’re always at my shows in Vegas and they are some of the coolest people I’ve met, so I decided you know what take the trip, enjoy your life and have a good time. Let me tell you something, Australian people know how to have to good time.

Australians are no strangers to blue humour, but what can we expect from your show? Is it safe for us to bring our grandparents?

Uh, no! Not unless your grandparents are real and love the real deal, you know what I mean? I’ll tell you the truth, when older people come to see me they go crazy, maybe because they’re older, maybe they don’t give a fuck but they just love it. They go crazy.

Why should the Australian public spend their hard-earned cash to hear what Andrew Dice Clay has to say in 2014?

You know what, I’m current and I am the funniest guy in the world, that’s the bottom line. It doesn’t even matter what I’m talking about, they’re just going to leave the theatre going ‘I am so glad I got to see that’. I’m a concept performer, I know what I do to crowds.

When you were first starting out and throughout the ’80s and early ’90s, there seemed to more comedians willing to take a chance and be ‘controversial’. Do you think fewer comedians are willing to take a risk now?

Yeah, you got a lot of dirty comics out there. But you know dirty and funny are two different things, so a lot of them just curse for the shock value of cursing, but it’s not shocking anybody anymore. You got to paint pictures. I know how to paint those comedic pictures — those filthy, dirty, comedic pictures. That’s the key because anybody can talk dirty, anybody walking the street can talk dirty, it’s another thing to make it really funny and that’s where I pride myself.

You’ve been known for making some pretty controversial statements about certain groups of people in the past. Have you ever regretted anything you’ve said in your shows, as time has passed?

You know what, not really. No. The stuff I talk about; it’s base. It’s relationships, it’s what goes on between people, you know, sexual but it’s sexual cartoons. It’s funny! It’s like, I could meet the nicest girl, polite, nice, you know and then I kiss her and turn her into a dirty little whore. I don’t want somebody to be nice in the bedroom, I don’t want anything with being nice in the bedroom. And then you take it on stage and it just makes it really fucking funny.

Do you think you could have ever been as successful as you have if you hadn’t been seen as being controversial?

You know what, I honestly didn’t set out in my career to be controversial. It just came with the territory. I never even thought that way. I’m an actor and a comic, so it’s all about acting for me, it’s all about performance and theatre, [it] wasn’t about being controversial. The media did that. I never even used to think of that stuff.

How was your experience working with Woody Allen and Cate Blanchett in ‘Blue Jasmine’?

Working with them was unbelievable because from doing nothing, all of a sudden I’m working with what I call Hollywood royalty from the Baldwins to Cate Blanchett, who was just, to me she was just a throwback to what movie stars used to be. She’s unreal and she’s deserved every award she [has] won. I love her that’s it. And I’ve loved her for a long time before I did the movie with her, but doing the movie, I got to see how cool a person she was: down to earth, grounded, family-orientated. Just a great girl.

Does your return to stand-up and touring mean your acting career is on hold?

No, no. I just did a new thing that Martin Scorsese is doing for HBO. So that’s the newest one.

What are you most looking forward to about coming to Australia?

You know what, to me it’s just going to be a whole experience. It’s just going to be fun. The shows are going to be great. I’m going to have some of my people with me and we’re just coming there to have a blast.

For Scenestr

Bill Bailey: “It becomes very much an Oz-centric show”

bill bailey

FEW comedic minds are as sharp as that of Englishman Bill Bailey, and he’s bringing it our way once again in a bid to help us contemplate the true nature of happiness.

His new show, Limboland, is sure to continue his habit of selling out major venues all over the country, with a 16-date tour on the cards for October.

“[The show] basically uses a term which is more to do with comedy found in the Catholic liturgy; this concept of limbo or a state of transition,” he says. “But it’s not strictly that, it’s Limboland, so it’s a place of the unknown or expected. I guess it came about because I saw a sign on a door coming out of an airport in Copenhagen saying ‘welcome to Denmark – the happiest country in the world’, and I was like ‘what, really?’ I became intrigued by what is happiness, what constitutes the happiness quotient in our lives and what really gives us happiness. It’s very often not the things you find in surveys, which are all about feeling secure, the bins being collected and the country being in a secure state. It’s more ephemeral; it’s more sort of transient. I guess that’s the starting point of the show; trying to explore that area between what we expect and what is real, what we think our lives are going to be like and what they are actually are like. It’s quite an interesting area to explore because it lead me to all kinds of memories from my childhood and growing up; key moments where you think it could have gone this way or that way. It’s quite a personal show and a kind of reflective look at what makes us happy and what’s the true nature of happiness.”

The 50 year-old Bailey is best known to Australian audiences for his stand up shows and his appearances on television, including QI and ABC’s award-winning hit, Black Books, in which he played the increasingly deranged Manny Bianco opposite fellow comic, Dylan Moran. But can he provide the secret to true happiness with Limboland?

“Sometimes it’s just having a decent cup of tea and watching the sun rise or something, you know what I mean?” he says. “There are odd moments when things just come together and you think ‘this is it’. When religions talk about moments of rapture, they’re not really about visions and all the rest of it, they’re just about the day-to-day or if you have a moment of clarity about something. But it’s also about feeling a state of change; almost like a transitional phase in your life when you reflect and think ‘I’ve done this, this and this, I’ve got a family, house and a nice life’. That’s really what the show is about; it’s a slight sense of mortality or uncertainty about the future, perhaps. It might be borne out of the things that we used to think were untouchable; the monoliths of our society like banks, politicians, royalty, the media, newspapers and all these things that are supposed to be completely unimpeachable, above the law and pristine. All these institutions have been gradually and systematically revealed to be utterly rotten to the core, so there’s nothing for us to cling to. We’re a bit on our own and we have to look out for ourselves a bit more.”

No Bill Bailey show is complete without a healthy portion of his ample musical ability, with Limboland set to feature a fabulously downbeat version of ‘Happy Birthday’, among other compositions.

“I was just reading a fascinating book about the history of protest songs,” he says. “So I thought it’d be good to revive that notion, and there’s an element of that in the show. The travelling I’ve done quite recently has all been through Europe, and it seemed odd that I neglected touring Europe for so many years. I’ve been to Australia and New Zealand many times, I’ve travelled to Asia and performed pretty much all over the world. So I did this big tour in Europe earlier this year, and it was fascinating to realise that there’s so much diversity and difference in language and culture, all quite jumbled together in quite a small area. I did this intense hit of Europe and went to about 15 countries in a month and it proved to be a rich source of [musical] material.”

Having spoken of his love for Australian border control and customs in the past, Bailey is looking forward to the trip this time around.

“I’ve always had fun getting into Australia,” he says. “Very often, over the years, I’ve travelled to Australia via South-East Asia. Having been in parts of Indonesia where the border patrols aren’t that strict, and then arriving in Australia, you realise it’s got proper border controls with sniffer dogs and God knows what. I’ve been picked out of a line-up by dogs before now, and it’s always embarrassing. The dogs have just stood there, barking and barking. Once, I think we were at a party and somebody had a spliff or something, and some of the smoke tends to just cling to you. I didn’t have anything on me and there was no wrongdoing involved, it was just the dog doing his job, so I had to ‘fess up and say what had happened. The thing was, I just didn’t want the dog to get in trouble, you know?”

A run of 16 shows begins in Perth on October 1st, before finishing nearly a month later in Newcastle, with shows in Brisbane on October 12th and 13th.

“I like to come and run in the show, and it’s good to spend a bit of time in a country and really bed it in,” Bailey says. “Often, when I come to places like Australia, there’ll be incidents in politics that will end up in the show as well, so as the show tours around, I pick up stories and things that will get thrown into the show and it becomes very much an Oz-centric show. That’s the way I like it; I like to have material that comes in and is specific to an area, and is gone before I leave.”

Besides his accomplishments as a comedian, actor, writer and musician, Bailey is a self-confessed super-fan of wildlife; a passion he hopes to indulge Down Under.

“I’m hoping to be filming [a wildlife show] at the end of this tour,” he says. “We’re just sort of negotiating at the moment about the feasibility of it. If I’m able, then I’m going to try to fit it in. I’ve been travelling to Australia for nearly 20 years now and have a fascination with the wildlife, so I think I want to have that outsider’s perspective of some of the more colourful aspects of the wildlife, get into detail and maybe expose a few myths about them. I’ve snorkelled around sharks, stingrays and octopuses and hung around snakes and all sorts of things in Borneo, so I’m not too phased by these kinds of things. I’m fascinated by them, so I guess I do sometimes forget that these things can nip you or whatever. Okay, maybe more than a nip; a nibble.”


For Scenestr

Stephen K. Amos: “I’m going to tell you what I want”


AUSTRALIA can’t get enough of Stephen K. Amos, but there’s one thing he wants to clear up.

“I met an Australian outside a show in London a few days ago,” he says. “And he just went ‘Oh my God, I didn’t know you lived in England!’ Of course I live in England! When I’m in Australia I tend to do a lot of television shows in a short space of time, and they get shown throughout the year, so people assume I actually live in Australia and everything is live.”

While television appearances will likely feature, a new stand-up show is the main reason for the Londoner’s visit this time around. “My new show is full of belly laughs and I like to throw a couple of things out into the audience to get their reactions,” he says.

“If anything happens in the audience or the venue and it’s funny or worthwhile I’ll run with it. The show is tentatively entitled ‘What Does The K Stand For?’ and it will basically answer all the questions that people ask me. I get asked the same sort of things that anyone would get asked; if someone has a funny name, looks a different way, is from a different place, or has different religious points of view and beliefs. I also get asked if I’m in a relationship, so I’ll be talking about break-ups and make-ups. I’ll also be looking at mortality, as I’ve done some calculations and worked out that I’m halfway through my life already.”

While generally known for his black humour and observational comedy, Amos’ new material is of a more personal nature than anything he’s performed before. “I was dumped rather grandly a couple of years ago. I didn’t see it coming at all, and I was given those ‘it’s stopped being fun’ and ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ lines. I thought it was all bullshit and crap, and I’m sure a lot of other people have been through that as well. We’ve all had relationships and know what it’s like to be loved and fall out of love. One of the questions I ask is, ‘is it better to be the dumper or the dumpee?’ I never seek permission from any of the people I talk about on stage. It’s up to me; if I was involved, that makes it my story.”

When asked if he has any regrets about switching from a potential career in law to one in comedy, the 43-year-old answers strongly. “Comedy is the one job in the world I can think of where you can say exactly what you want. There are no set regulations or compliance laws.

“With being a lawyer, the chances are you’ll be defending someone you know to be guilty or cross-examining someone you know to be innocent. It always makes me laugh when I see people’s Twitter accounts and they have ‘these views are my own’ on there. Oh, really? You had to put that there? Do we not all have a personal life any more? You’ll never see me saying anything like that. If I go to my bank manager to ask about a loan or something, they’ll tell me what the bank wants them to tell me. If you come see my show, I’m not going to tell you what you might think I’m going to tell you, I’m going to tell you what I want.”

Despite not actually living here, Amos keeps an eye out for anything topical he can add to his Australian shows, while avoiding other aspects of tour life. “I did shows last year in Australia, just at the moment when the battle for leadership between Rudd and Gillard was happening. That was such good fun as it was so ridiculous. I still can’t believe Julia Gillard was challenged for her leadership and they took it to a vote; only in Australia could this happen.

“When I’m doing festivals overseas a lot of comedians tend to hang out together. Bearing in mind that doing a festival means you’re away from home and loved ones, so the only people you know well are the people you’ve worked with for a number of years. The one thing we don’t do, which would be very annoying, is to sit around trying to out-joke each other. That would be unbearable. I’m currently on tour in the UK now, and finishing in February. I’m doing another radio series at the same time, and putting the final pieces together for the tour in Australia. After that, it’s back to the UK for another show, then a tour of America.”

Stephen K. Amos has the following Australian shows:

Feb 12-16, 18-20 – Adelaide Fringe at The Governor Hindmarsh
Feb 26-28, Mar 1-2, 4-10 – Brisbane Comedy Festival at the Powerhouse Theatre
Mar 12-16 – Adelaide Fringe at The Arts Theatre
Mar 17 – Adelaide Fringe at The Governor Hindmarsh
Mar 23 – Geelong Performing Arts Centre
Mar 24 – Frankston Arts Centre
Mar 28-30, April 1-6, 8-13, 15-21 – Melbourne International Comedy Festival Athenaeum Theatre
May 9-11 – Sydney Comedy Festival at Enmore Theatre
May 16-18 – Perth Comedy Festival at Astor Main Space

Puppeteer Stephane Georis: “I use these objects to laugh about love”

stephane georis

STEPHANE GEORIS is a master at animating everyday objects for laughs and learning.

Using cauliflowers, cucumbers, and coffee pots in a family-friendly show, Belgian puppeteer Georis – as Professor Adam – explores the origins of the universe with hilarious results, albeit with an important underlying message.

“Adam is a teacher of science,” he says. “He’s a very bad scientist, and he invites other scientists from all over the world along. I play ten characters from different countries, who play with science objects to make an experience that proves the future doesn’t exist yet, the past is already over, and only the present exists; so we have to enjoy life here and now.”

An experienced street performer, Georis’ started out with the simple idea of using everyday objects to bring science to life. “I’ve been a clown and juggler in the past, and with clown art I discovered how to play with objects and give them life,” he says. “I want to bring objects alive, and give them a voice so they can tell a story. I try to be as simple as possible, as the best performance for me is a simple one. My shows are all visual; the most important things in the show are pictures, and I travel with only one suitcase as I like to make shows easy to travel with.”

As well as examining the universe, Professor Adam uses food items to take a closer look at the human body.

“The first experiment involves a cauliflower, which I use as a brain on which I do an operation to find out what’s inside,” he says.

“There’s another experiment in which I play with bread, and it gets a great reaction. Everywhere I go, I have a list of foods to buy at the supermarket: one cake, three loaves of bread, one carrot and so on.”

While there is a strong educational message, the main focus of the show is on humour, positivity, and hilarity.

“It’s not at all serious.” he says.

“There is a bottom line – a message – but we do it in a funny way. I use these objects to laugh about love, how time passes us by, and how we’re all getting old. The important thing is for us to laugh at these things and enjoy them.”