A few years ago, I got into a literal face-slapping match at a London tea house with Eddie Izzard and our mutual dentist, Simon Godley, a very funny Radio 4 comedian himself. I was trying to show Eddie “The Gestapo Joke” and he just couldn’t get the timing right. You ask your cohort, “Say, have I ever told you the Gestapo joke?” They say, “No.” You then SLAP them across the face at the very second you shout out, “Liar!” If they inquire, “Why’d you do that?” You get in their face, fiercely point to them and say, “
ask zah questions!” Similarly, seeing Andy Dick’s show at The Comedy Store last Wednesday left me feeling a bit slapped – bitch-slapped to be precise; and my face is still stinging, and will for some time. Andy Dick is the Queen of Anomalies. I wouldn’t know how to categorize him as a comedic artist, other than as “Truly watchable!” in the same way a slow and continuous multi-car pile-up can be on a spring day. Whatever you think of him, whatever delicious mud he drags you through, you feel it’s all worth it, because Andy Dick is truly watchable. The trouble is, I just didn’t know what I was watching after a while. A cabaret or a rehearsal for a twelve-step meeting? A coming out party or just another overly-dramatic appearance of Norman Desmond from his indoor balcony? A comedy show or post-ironic “take” on a comedy show? The truth is, as with Andrew Dice Clay, Sam Kinison, Steve Martin and the King of the Put-On-of-‘Em-All….the late great Andy Kaufman, you never knew where the real show ended and the fake one began. I am a fan of the bold fact that “Dice” (the creation of Andrew Silverstein) was in fact a brilliantly invented character. Andrew Dice Clay—in the very early days—would reportedly come on stage as an impressionist. And, after doing dead on impressions of Pacino and DeNiro, he would introduce “Dice” as a compendium of the characters he knew from the old neighborhood, in a vague form of The Nutty Professor’s Buddy Love. Because of the set-up, you knew that whatever Dice did from then on, could only be considered an exaggerated inside joke, which nullified any offense. Andrew was “playing” a bad guy. It was only when Clay dropped the intro/impressions and took the stage already in the character of Dice, did his career skyrocket. But, with Messer Dick, unless he’s actually the master of all masters of staying in character continuously, seamlessly and most importantly: completely believably, he’s just another reality star performing in his own head.
Coming out on stage, perching cross-legged on a bar stool like Andy Dick Van Dyke, whilst swiveling right and left as he looked for Sally and Buddy: friendly targets in the audience, Andy was spell-binding. With his Fogerty like guitarist/singer, Tim Walsh (who could belt them out like the best of ‘em), Dick actually transformed into an almost Leonard Cohen-like non-melodic rants, with hits such as, “I’m So Sick and Tired of Me”. The free flowing “we’re just winging it” attitude Andy employed, worked for him, because that is what the audience loves. Intimacy; moment by moment. Ultimately, that proved the fait accompli for the rest of the entrants on this comedy lounge in a big ole Ionesco burlesque cruise ship heading straight to the bay of comedy hell. There was no emcee, comedians seemed to just pop through delayed curtain after delayed curtain and often, the comedians, as good as some of them were, seemed to have no contextual bearing whatsoever on the show itself. The Comedy Store Main Room (lightly peppered with under 50 people in a cavernous room which seats close to 350) is almost too high holy ground for such display of choreographed decadence. Twenty odd years ago, the likes of Richard Pryor, Robin Williams and Eddie Murphy played there on a semi-regular basis. And twenty before that, the Main Room of The Comedy Store was the most mythical of all Hollywood nightclubs, Ciros. Sammy Davis Jr, Martin and Lewis, even Lenny Bruce played there. And, 20 before that, it was called “The Mein Room,” a Chinese noodle house. (jes kiddin) Perhaps if the roar outside on Sunset were not over-testosteroned German car engines, but were in fact Der Luftwaffe finally bombing West Hollywood, then I think the deconstructed disaster I witnessed tonight would’ve been in context and ruled pure genius. And in a way it was.
way. Andy Dick is fatally loveable and when you’re that liked by the audience, like any good politician, you don’t have to be understood or even say anything meaningful, which allows Dick to play the bad guy so well.
Providing support were impressive comedic performances by Jesus Trejo, whose “Rules are Rules” routine, completely won me over; Bob Wheeler’s, “people in LA suck” POV was dead on relevant, funny and true; Jay Mandium, an Indian from Dallas, provided some insightful examination of the modern American class system to the evening; Arnold Colery, a Frenchman who pretended we believed he grew up in Mississippi, although lacked credence, was absolutely charming; Tony Ray was way too loud for the room, but how can you go wrong with “We’re all gonna die in 2012” jokes?; Eddie Sheively made his parents proud with his “I smoke lots of weed” opener, segueing like a sport into lines like (hide the children first), “I j——d off a guy for Tapioca pudding”; Crazee Cindy (producer of the evening) introduced a certain WWF element to the already male contaminated atmosphere with a sample of Jersey Shore wit, “Would everybody just shut the f—k up?!” (I hate when people quote Shakespeare with no attribution.) “I was married to a Jew, but his nose was bigger than his d—k,” is not the sort of thing this writer should be submitting to a blog for this fine media establishment, but folks, my commitment to veracity, and to you, the discerning comedy public, takes precedence. Once she simmered down, dropping the defensive armor, she began to resolve into a mature and smart woman with a very keen eye for bullshit: Men. And, after all, isn’t that what we want our comedians to do? Point out the bullshit? Following Cindy was Aussie Monty Franklin, whose opener was the laugh line of the night, “This isn’t what I came to America for!” (That’s right folks. Crazee Cindy’s show had its own built in heckler. Nice streamlining of the process!) Well into the third hour of the evening, Kelly Ebsary made an all too brief appearance. This self-admitted “Diva” and Les Miz vet obviously has the kind of talent beyond almost any comedy club pay grade. Kelly entered and played the moment; a tough spot for any performer, going up late etc. This part Native American who “sleeps with Hagen Daz” has a set of pipes on her, pal, and a very charming damn the torpedoes sense of humor. The improvised jazz and comedy number Ms. E belted out was worthy of a sold-out house. She’s talent. No doubt. There were 3 or 4 more comedians to come, but the crowd was thinning. I was getting tired and wanted to go backstage and meet Andy, who was very warm and funny.
Surrounded by the highest quality of friends, lovers, bloodsuckers, sycophants and handlers, Andy held court in the kingly way only he knows how. I felt truly blessed to be that close to him and yet, had the wizard let me see too much behind the curtain? Andy Dick is seamlessly cute, trendy and tragic. Everyone should own one. Whatever it is, like all the great character comics I’ve seen over the years, Andy Dick makes you want to save him by being him. In spite of his troubles; in spite of him having to suffer the ultimate of consequences for any artist, he has to be himself. In the end, I escaped by kissing Andy on the forehead, the same way a parent says goodnight to children in pajamas. My work was done. I wanted to hang around, but had to pedal my bicycle down La Cienega. I just prayed the Nazi’s wouldn’t question me on the way home.
I give Crazee Cindy’s Andy Dick Show 5 out of 8 Menorahs
Steven Alan Green
Enjoy the Veal
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