Andrew Dice Clay is a comedian who believes he is the greatest comic on earth despite the numerous controversies. He may go down in history as the first comedian to sell out Madison Square Garden, but he still is best known as the man who cannot speak without vulgarities. Still, even after being diagnosed with Bell’s palsy, he is always determined to put on the best show, explaining to his audience why his face looks a bit different. In August 2021, he became the first comic to headline a show in the restaurant-turned comedy venue at the AT&T Center’s Terrace Club. Thanks to his comedy, Andrew Dice Clay’s net worth is estimated at $10 million, and here is his journey towards achieving it.
One Night Changes His Life
Clay was born to be an entertainer. According to Rugrats, by the age of five, the comedian was already doing impressions and anything to entertain the family while they were gathered in the living room. When he was seven, he was obsessed with Jerry Lewis, and his impressions were based on the late comedian. However, his skills were not limited to doing impressions alone; in high school, Clay took up drumming, which would help pay the bills later when he became a drummer for the Catskills. With Clay dabbling in drumming, singing, and entertaining, he became more inclined to do theater, and a comedy act was on his mind. Therefore, whenever he went on stage, he would make impressions of Lewis and The Nutty Professor. Then “Grease” came out, and Clay decided that being John Travolta would be his next greatest act. He figured that they resembled each other, and when he watched the film, Clay thought that his act would be perfect if he could dance and sing like Travolta.
Consequently, as he told The Village Voice, he took the soundtracks from “Fever” and “Grease” to Fly Studios. He did not want to pantomime Travolta singing, so he got rid of the lead vocals but kept the backup vocals. After rehearsing for three weeks and ensuring that he captured Travolta’s every move, Clay was ready to audition at Pips, a comedy club at Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, his hometown. September 13, 1978, was the night of the audition at Pips, and Clay reckons that it changed his life. It was amateur night, and his impressions of Lewis and The Nutty Professor got him booed off the stage. Clay did not give up and instead transitioned to do a Travolta impression, and the audience was impressed. The impression was so good that he was hired to headline that weekend. According to Brooklyn Eagle, the Pips Comedy Club owner, George Schultz, paid $50 for the entire weekend. Clay did not even have a manager but pointed to his father in the crowd when the club owners asked him about it.
Dice is Born
Despite the obvious talent, other comedians thought Clay’s success was fleeting. According to the Washington Post, Michael Binder, a fellow comedian, revealed that they all teased Clay because they did not think his act would last long, but he proved them wrong. With his heart in acting and not in stand-up comedy, Clay figured he might as well get some acting skills by doing some improv on stage. He aimed to become the Elvis Presley of comedy, and one role he auditioned for in 1984 helped him. After playing Travolta, Lewis, and The Nutty Professor, Binder disclosed that Clay had already begun developing a character, Dice. Dice was an Italian street guy who loved smoking cigarettes, and when Clay auditioned for “Making the Grade” in 1984, he could not drop the persona.
It impressed the producers so much that they changed the role of the villain Clay was supposed to play to Dice, going as far as naming the character “Dice.” Seeing that Dice was getting him attention, Clay started acting as Dice even when the cameras were not rolling. The persona was sexist, racist, and homophobe that still got him lots of fans. In February 1990, he sold out Madison Square Garden, New York City, for two consecutive nights, making history as the first comedian ever to do so. The total attendance was 38,000 people, and even if the price of the tickets is unclear, you can imagine that he made a killing from that performance. He became a force to reckon with, boasting that he opened for Guns N’ Roses and sold 20,000 seats in other shows. To Clay, he was ahead of his time with his comedy, initiating sparks of jealousy among his colleagues.
Acting and Stand-Up Comedy
The success of the Madison Square Garden performance got Twentieth Century Fox to create a concert film for the two nights. However, in July 1990, Entertainment published that Twentieth Century Fox had canceled their plans to release the concert film because of the act that Clay pup on the stage; it was controversial, and the production house was not about to risk its money. He had already been banned from MTV for life after spewing profanities in nursery rhymes during the 6th annual Video Music Awards. ABC was also wary of Clay and dropped a one-hour TV drama proposed to feature Clay, but the network thought the comedian would be bad news. Despite the bad luck, the comedian still managed to dust himself up and try again, this time on his own. He released an hour-long comedy” No Apologies,” which was bought by around 250,000, making it the highest-grossing pay-per-view event in the non–sports category in 1993. Motivated by the success of that film, he followed it up with “The Valentine’s Day Massacre,” another pay-per-view special that aired in about 100,000 homes. Since then, he has appeared in different films and TV series, including “Entourage,” “Bless This House,” “The Blacklist” among many more. His acting skills are still marketable, seeing that he is set to star in “God is a bullet” alongside Jamie Foxx.