I love comedy. A favorite past time, though one I rarely indulge in anymore, is listening to stand-up and comedy albums, everything from old Jonathan Winters, to Steve Martin, to Eddy Murphy, Robin Williams, and even old Woody Allen stand-up acts. At one time I owned every Monty Python album, my favorite being their Contractual Obligation Album. I have laughed to the stylings of George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, Redd Foxx, Norm MacDonald, Sam Kineson, Dave Attell, Colin Quinn, Sarah Silverman, Dave Chappelle (another interesting story), and even Andrew Dice Clay. Another comedian I like a lot is Artie Lange, who is most famous for being Howard Stern's sidekick. Now, like most everyone, I do not listen to Howard Stern because I don't subscribe to satellite radio. I haven't listened to Stern's show more than 5 or 6 times ever. Of course, I like Artie Lange: Jack and Coke.
Artie wrote, produced, and starred in the movie Beer League, co-wrote the book Too Fat to Fish, which debuted at number one on the New York Times best-seller list. He was also a feature player for a time on MadTv, among other things (WARNING on content for MadTV link). It was during his time on MadTV that he hit his self-described lowest moment, known among his friends and fans simply as "the pig story."
Lange has a long and comically well-documented (mostly by himself) history of drug and alcohol abuse. Anyway, right after the new year (2 January 2010 to be exact) Lange attempted suicide and has not really been heard from in public much since. Shortly before this episode, Lange was interviewed by Mandy Stadtmiller for the New York Post (at the link you can read or listen- CONTENT WARNING, or WARNING: CONTENT). In fact, it didn't appear in the Post until almost a week after his suicide attempt.
It is a fascinating interview, even if (maybe particularly if) you're not familiar with Lange. I am not a psychologist and I am not trying to analyze Lange, but I am struck after reading the interview and re-watching the MadTV clip by the truth in his comedy. I guess that's why I like those other guys, too. Self-hatred, self-loathing, I lived at that address for too long. Sometimes I still go for a visit. That neighborhood doesn't change much, a lot of junkies, drunks, and other self-destructive types. I just want to say to everyone there, "Amor, ergo sum and so can you!"
From the interview:
Lange: So you know, Mandy, I’m 42, I’m the same age Elvis was when he died. I remember thinking ‘when I was 33 I’m the same age Jesus was when he died,’ look at all Jesus did by 33.
Stadtmiller: Not as much as you, Artie.
Lange: I haven’t come close to that – he died for all our sins by 33 and all I did was, you know, tell some Mexican jokes at a club. And 42, Elvis died at 42. I’m 42, you know. He was Elvis. Part of me thinks it’s over. How much better can my career get? To me the Stern show is the best show of all time. I’ve been on it for a decade.
Like Carlin and so many others, Lange was raised Catholic, but now is a self-described agnostic. Using defeasible reasoning, he does not subscribe to atheism just in case he is wrong. See, Artie, defeasible reasoning?! You're smarter than you think! In any case, I'm sending some prayers your way. Get well.
For something shorter, you can read Lange's Q and A with New York magazine.