In the late 1980s, Andrew 'Dice' Clay was the most notorious and controversial comic in the business. Foul-mouthed and abrasive, he was one in a long line of comedic performers whose material stretched the boundaries of decency and good taste to their breaking point like pioneers Lenny Bruce and George Carlin. His rise to fame was meteoric, and ultimately -- despite retaining a fervent core audience comprised almost entirely of young males -- his fall from grace was just as swift.
Andrew Clay Silverstein was born in Brooklyn in 1957. At the outset of his career, using simply the name Andrew Clay, he was an actor who appeared primarily in small roles in low-budget teen sex romps like 1984's Making the Grade and Private Resort. As the decade wore on, he continued to struggle as an actor; finally, he turned to stand-up, creating the Diceman, a comic persona which assimilated the attitude and mentality of an street thug in greaser-style black leather.
Clay touched a nerve among fans; angry and arrogant, he tapped into a rabid, blue-collar following. Along with Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks and Denis Leary, Clay was labeled one of a new breed of "shock comics." Clay's posturing was relentless; self-aggrandizing and raw. While fans loved it, his opponents grew outraged.
After the release of his 1989 debut Dice, Clay exploded -- the album sold extremely well for a comedy record, and the merits of his act were hotly debated across the nation. He boldly toured the nation, packing arenas in unprecedented rock star fashion. He was a regular guest on Howard Stern's radio show and was the first comedian ever to sell out New York's Madison Square Garden.
In early 1990, he was invited to host Saturday Night Live; a media furor ensued when Sinead O'Connor, the scheduled musical guest, and cast member Nora Dunn walked off the show in protest of Clay's sexist persona, raising his visibility even higher. However, the first crack in the comedian's armor appeared a few months later when he appeared on MTV to promote his first starring film role in The Adventures of Ford Fairlane; despite promises to keep his impulses in check, Clay performed an expletive-filled routine which resulted in a lifetime ban from the network's airwaves. And while 1990's two-disc set The Day the Laughter Died reached the Top 40, Ford Fairlane was a box-office disappointment, quickly halting Clay's brief career as a Hollywood leading man.
Dice's filmed performance at Madison Square Garden was released in 1991 as Dice Rules. The concert movie fared poorly, as many theaters refused to run it. The blow was fatal; by 1992's 40 Too Long, the Diceman was yesterday's news, as evidenced by the tiny crowd in 1993's The Day the Laughter Died II. In 1995, he resurfaced -- sans the "Dice" moniker -- in the CBS sitcom Bless This House; during press junkets for the program, he claimed the Diceman persona was all an act, and that the cuddly family man portrayed on the show was the "real" Andrew Clay. The show stiffed, however, and soon he was back to his Dice persona, playing to smaller crowds. Still nasty as he wants to be, Clay resurfaced five years later with Face Down, Ass Up.
Now, approaching fifty, Dice is coming out of retirement; booking bigger live shows, recording a new album, and starring in his own reality show on VH1, called Dice: Undisputed.