The Niceman Cometh?
He muzzled that mouth. Now TV makes a sweetie out of Andrew Clay
”Gimme two slices, burning hot!” The commanding, swaggering voice is straight out of Brooklyn, but the man, Andrew Clay, is back at last in Hollywood. Or, more precisely at this moment — for his first extensive no-Dice interview — at Beverly Hills’ Mulberry Street Pizzeria, owned by his longtime friend Cathy Moriarty, with whom he’ll be starring this fall as loud-but-lovable postman Burt Clayton in CBS’ new Honeymooners homage, Bless This House (CBS, Wednesday, 8-8:30).
At his peak in 1990, Clay sizzled like the dinner he’s ordering: He had two hit comedy albums, based on his crude, often scatological humor that often targeted women and minorities. His stand-up act was selling out huge arenas. And that year he was starring in the movie The Adventures of Ford Fairlane. But just as quickly as Clay’s star had risen, it flamed out, his raunchy humor facing a backlash both in the media and among audiences. Ford Fairlane bombed. Nora Dunn walked off Saturday Night Live when Clay guest-hosted. After he used foul language on the MTV Music Video Awards, that network banned him for life. For nearly four years, he says, he couldn’t even get a dog-food commercial.
But Clay, 37, has now ditched the Diceman as part of an image makeover, he’s suited up with a cleaned-up stand-up act, and, after an acrimonious 1986 divorce, he’s happily married to Kathleen Monica, known as Trini, who works as his assistant. The couple — who met when she was working as a waitress in Chicago, married in 1992, and have two young sons — live in L.A. but also keep a place in his hometown of Brooklyn.
Seated at a back table with his pizza, Clay is dressed in a black sleeveless T-shirt, baggy shorts, and running shoes. ”I look moronic in these clothes, but they make me feel comfortable,” he says. Characteristically blunt and occasionally still offensive, Clay claims his act got too disgusting even for him — yet he makes no apologies.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where have you been since you were selling out Madison Square Garden?
ANDREW CLAY: Taking a long break that I didn’t ask for. The whole Dice thing became so crazy. I was still getting 20,000 people a night, but after a while they just wanted cursing. It got to where it was just vulgarity and I hated to perform. The media turned on me. The New York Times writes that I’m the demise of Western civilization, which I couldn’t believe. I mean, my friend had to, like, explain the article to me. I got blackballed in Hollywood. Nobody got that I really wasn’t Dice. He was just a character I played.
EW: People will say, Oh, sure, he’s just saying that because the Diceman thing soured.
AC: No, I’m not — there’s a part of me that was very much the Diceman. But it was still a joke — it was all about jokes.
EW: How did you react to getting blackballed?
AC: I went into a depression. See, I set out to be a comic, then everybody’s calling you horrible. How are you going to feel?
Bless This House