Idiot Box: “Dice” On Showtime

“Dice” On Showtime

Devin D. O'Leary
3 min read
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Throughout the late ’80s and early ’90s, standup comedian Andrew Dice Clay was riding high on a wave of explosive popularity. The controversial comic was playing to huge stadium crowds and became an icon of the MTV generation—even though he was “banned for life” from the music network for reciting his trademark adult nursery rhymes on the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards. But just as fast as he ascended, he seemed to vanish from the pop cultural radar, popping up occasionally in such unglamorous places as “Celebrity Apprentice.” Now the Diceman is mounting his umpteenth comeback bid, a self-mocking sitcom on Showtime that strikes a surprisingly balanced tone between brutally honest confessional and raunchy comedy.

Clay’s absence from the spotlight and his recent turn toward the more serious (he offered an unexpectedly solid acting turn in Woody Allen’s 2013 film
Blue Jasmine) have put him in a good position for “Dice.” The show is the creation of Scot Armstrong, who wrote such big screen comedies as Road Trip, Old School, Starsky & Hutch and The Hangover, Part II. Semi-autobiographical in nature, the show casts Clay as an exaggerated version of himself—which isn’t too shocking, since he’s almost always been an exaggerated version of himself. This Andrew Dice Clay is a washed-up former comic who had his shot at superstardom and has now moved to Las Vegas in hopes of securing a regular comedy gig. He’s failed at that and is supporting himself and his live-in girlfriend Carmen (fellow comic Natasha Leggero), mostly by gambling the dregs of his fortune.

In the pilot episode Dice and his best pal/enabler Milkshake (Kevin Corrigan from
Goodfellas, Kicked in the Head and “Grounded for Life”) try to make it to Carmen’s brother’s wedding, only to lose themselves in a pyrrhic battle against a $5 ATM fee and an increasingly awful beatdown at the blackjack table. It’s a comedy of discomfort and bad decisions, and Clay proves adept at it.

To his credit, the comedian/actor seems happy to mock his public persona. This Andrew Dice Clay is a happily self-deluded has-been trying to impress people with his long-gone fame. In the opening sequence, for example, he recites his life story for the edification of the audience—and also for the window replacement salesman he’s trying to talk out of jacked-up “celebrity prices.” The guy, of course, has no clue who Andrew Dice Clay is.

Occasionally, the cast looks like it’s still trying to nail down the right rhythm with one another, and the tone isn’t always perfect. (Is this funny-sad or sad-funny?) But the cast is solid and the dialogue-heavy scripts feature some clever back-and-forth patter. (Carmen: “Are you listening to a word I’m saying?” Dice: “Yes, but not in the way you think.”) In addition to charting the decline of its title character, the show also serves as an elegy for the sort of Old School Las Vegas in which the Diceman would surely have thrived. Observing the roller coasters and oxygen bars of today’s Sin City, Milkshake points out that, “Sinatra, back in the day, wasn’t doing oxygen shots.”

Funny, self-deprecating, occasionally cringe-inducing and still a bit rude (if slightly apologetic about it now), this “Dice” has got potential as a vehicle for Dice.

“Dice” premieres Sunday, April 10, at 10:30pm on Showtime.

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