The Artie Lange Show: Brutally Frank, and Refreshingly Distinct

The Artie Lange Show

There’s a good chance that you weren’t even aware of its existence, but  The Artie Lange Show is one of the most underrated comedy shows currently in production. The talk show, hosted by MadTV and Howard Stern alumnus , features fascinating guests, and it balances sensational content with in-depth, humane discussions about serious topics which most other programs either won’t address, or only address in a way that feels condescending or heavy-handed. The show covers everything from major league sports, to drug addiction, to celebrity gossip. Lange interviews everyone from contemporary stars in their prime to public figures who have been out of the limelight in recent years, but are no less fascinating to listen to. He’s talked to a litany of interesting people: Kevin Corrigan, Michael Kosta, Gilbert Gottfried, Richard Roper, and Darrell Hammond, to name just a few.

One of the things that makes Lange’s show refreshing is that he has no qualms about speaking candidly about his flaws and shortcomings.

The show is hardly conventional — but then, Lange’s career itself has been anything but conventional. “I used to be a longshoreman,” the comedian, writer, and radio personality said during a recent episode. “I didn’t go to college. I have a voice that when I say something, it can sound way meaner than you think it is.”  Lange first cut his teeth as a comedian by performing at famous clubs like The Improv in Manhattan. In 1992 he quit his job as a longshoreman to pursue his love of comedy. To support his dream, he drove a taxi in New York City, which allowed him the opportunity to perform 20-minute sets at the Comic Strip Live, one of the oldest showcase clubs in New York City, before jumping back into his cab. From there, he achieved success with his Improv comedy troupe, Live on Tape, frequently selling out shows at Caroline’s on Broadway. He first appeared on  MADtv in 1995, and later appeared on The Norm Show as Norm Macdonald’s half-brother. From 2001 to 2009, he co-hosted the The Howard Stern Show, and from 2011 to 2013, Artie co-hosted the Nick and Artie show alongside his friend Nick DiPaolo.

Artie’s current show, which is produced by DirecTV in a joint venture with Premiere Radio Networks, is a highly entertaining radio show, featuring a wide range of celebrity guests, from contemporary bands to aging, bawdy comedians. But it’s not all chuckles and vulgarity on his program. One of the things that makes Lange’s show refreshing is that he has no qualms about speaking candidly about his flaws and shortcomings.

One of his best interviews was with Dr. Drew Pinksy, the host of Loveline, and a regular correspondent for major media outlets like CNN. Pinksy had mentioned that he had been covering Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death for CNN, and Lange had much to say on the subject, as he is a recovering heroin addict himself.

“In a way, the only smidgen of positive that you could get out of [Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death] is that… a lot of people feel that only like G-list celebrities get affected by [heroin abuse] when there career is in the dumper.”

He went to say that the Hoffman case was unique in that the actor was regarded as “the Brando of his time” and that the value of this is it reminds people of the pervasiveness of addiction, which even affects industry celebrities at the height of their success.

When Pinsky asked Lange if he’d relapsed, he said that he had been drunk and arrested in Paris two years prior, and Lange also admitted that he had been given Vicodin six months earlier from a doctor. He binged on his entire prescription over the course of eight hours, and attended his first AA meeting the following day. “It just shows you how weak you get” Lange said, before Pinksy passionately responded by saying “Weak?! That’s the biology of this disease. That’s what makes me so angry about this. It’s not weak, you’re triggering a disorder in your brain of motivational disturbance where everything else shrinks and one motivation prevails.” The program was highly insightful, integrating comments from both a recovering addict and a medical professional who handles addiction with some regularity.

“I’ve stopped going to certain restaurants ‘cause of the TV’s! I wanna go in there with my wife, ya know what I mean? Grab her under the table and do what I gotta do…and you’re watching a football game!– Show Guest, “Dice”

But, of course, there are more light-hearted moments on the show too. Lange conducted a great interview with the infamously crude comedian Andrew Dice Clay, who did not mince words when speaking about his aversion to televisions in public places. “I’ve stopped going to certain restaurants ‘cause of the TV’s! I wanna go in there with my wife, ya know what I mean? Grab her under the table and do what I gotta do…and you’re watching a football game! They’ve got a football game in full HD on a 52 inch screen! And then you get in a cab, and it’s right in your face: a TV! Like here, I understand it,” Clay said, motion with his arms as if acknowledging the fact that he was in a TV studio. “You know why Artie?” Dice asked, before answering his own question in a near whisper: “It’s a TV show.”

Actor and comedian Gilbert Gottfried also made notable appearances on the program, and was ribbed by Lange for the incendiary remarks which cost Gottfried his job as the voice of the Aflac mascot: “Here’s my impression of the worst advice Gilbert ever got from a director of a voice-over session: ‘There’s no chance Aflac listens to this.’” Gottfried took the comment in good humor, and the two went on to talk about how social media, if mishandled can be very costly for celebrities. “Twitter, especially for me and you — thank god I’m not still drinking — is the scariest thing ever” Lange said. “At 4 a.m….you could just immediately end your career.” This prompted Gottfried to say: “With Twitter…I feel sentimental about old time lynch-mobs, because lynch-mobs had to at least get up, put their shoes and jackets on, get out of the house…and get their hands dirty. But now it’s like, ‘Oh, I’ll just sit in my underwear and kill anyone I want.’”

To the delight of original Nick and Artie Show fans, Artie Lange has continued to interview sports stars like Mohamed Sanu, an American wide receiver who plays for the Cincinnati Bengals, and Philly Sports Radio Legend Howard Eskin. Whether he is interviewing a comic, a doctor, or sportswriter, the longshoreman from New Jersey has an enjoyably laid back style, and is a master storyteller that will no doubt keep audiences coming back to his show for years to come.

Artie Lange Show Studio

Kate Voss

Kate Voss is a blogger in Chicago whose chief interests include film, music, and boating. Follow her on Twitter: @kateevoss.

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  1. EMC

    March 22, 2014 at 8:36 am

    The Nick and Artie show was better.

  2. Vickroy

    March 22, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Good stuff. I catch it from time to time on directv. Love Artie!

  3. RonsCigar

    March 22, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Artie Lange has a great show. Great article Kate Voss!

  4. Jrat

    March 22, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    That shit was long, I still don’t know where to watch it.

  5. Juniorsampled

    March 24, 2014 at 8:36 am

    Unless you have DirecTV and Audience channel, you’ll never see it.  Pod cast maybe…

  6. otto

    March 24, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Show was good when it was Nick and Artie

    The current show now focuses on Lange’s retarded announcer and the litany of awful guests that no one has heard of and in no way appeal to the demographics of Artie Lange’s audience.

    Lange’s co–host, brain-damaged Jon Ritchie, adds nothing to the show, and actually frequently steps on Lange’s comedic bits as they’re happening.

    Worst of all, the show has become as PC as anything else on TV.  The authenticity of what was Nick and Artie has totally disappeared.

  7. RevSoulGlo

    May 3, 2014 at 12:49 am