Andrew Dice Clay is excited. Well, as excited as the comic ever gets.
“It elevates you when people are saying great stuff about your work,” Clay says. “I’m not going to say I’m not thrilled about it. I am.”
It is Aug. 23, and Woody Allen’s latest feature, “Blue Jasmine,” is opening nationwide. The cerebral writer-director cast Clay in the movie, and the critics are raving about his performance.
It’s an unlikely career reboot for the stand-up comic who rose to the top of his genre in the 1990s, only to fade away as other comics grabbed the spotlight. Clay made a name for himself with a particularly vulgar routine that included retooled nursery rhymes and one-liners that can’t be printed in a family newspaper. His act was further fueled with a leather-jacketed, Brooklyn-bred macho persona.
Clay, now 55, is back and will perform his stand-up routine Saturday night at the Emerald Queen Casino.
Acting isn’t new for the comedian. His 1990 film “The Adventures of Ford Fairlane” was a critical and fan hit. But not much followed until a guest appearance on HBO’s “Entourage.” That’s where Allen saw him, and it led to the casting of Clay in “Blue Jasmine.”
In “Blue Jasmine” (playing at Tacoma’s Grand Cinema), Clay plays Augie, the former brother-in-law of Jasmine (Cate Blanchett). She’s a New York socialite who loses it all when her financier husband (Alec Baldwin) is brought down as a Bernie Madoff-style scammer. The film also stars Louis C.K. and Peter Sarsgaard.
The acclaim for his performance has surprised Clay.
“It wasn’t even a thought in my head (when he was filming),” Clay says. “It was more about, ‘OK, you haven’t done a movie in 12 years, and Woody Allen gave you this part. Deliver. Do the right thing.’ That’s all I wanted to do.”
With the buzz has come a fan base cross-pollination, Clay says.
“Dice fans have become Woody Allen fans, and Woody Allen fans have become Dice fans,” he says.
Clay has been spending half of every month in Las Vegas performing at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
The other half he was based in Los Angeles, performing on the road and recording his popular podcast, “Rollin’ with Dice and Wheels,” which he launched in May.
But now he spends his L.A. days in meetings — three to five a day, he says — with the top brass of Hollywood.
“There’s a lot coming out of it,” Clay says. “There’s offers, there’s ideas. It’s very exciting. It’s that moment again. Most performers, when they go as far down as I was after being as big as I was, never get that shot again. I’m very humbled by the whole thing.”
His stand-up is not suffering from the sudden attention to his acting, Clay says.
“It’s always going to be as edgy as it’s ever been. When I’m performing as a comedian for my fans, it’s my job to give those fans what they want to hear. If Billy Joel starts doing opera, he’s going to lose the fans. If a rock band starts doing classical music, they’re going to lose their fans. You know what I mean?”
That means the persona he created in the 1990s will live on.
“I really get into talking about the behavior of people,” he says. “Their sexual behavior, for the most part. But only in a comedic way. I create those funny pictures that people really know goes on in reality.”
Clay sanitized his persona when he was cast in a short-lived CBS sitcom, “Bless This House,” in 1995 and dropped “Dice” from his stage name. But those changes were forced upon him, he says.
“I’ll never forget when they didn’t want me to use my real name in the credits. I said, ‘You don’t think people are going to know who I am?’ I put on 45 pounds doing that sitcom, I was so miserable. When they canceled that, I was really happy.”
Still, the onstage Andrew Dice Clay is not the Andrew Dice Clay his family knows.
“At home, am I that guy on stage? Definitely no,” he says. “If I did half of what I talked about (on stage), I’d be doing 25 to life in a maximum-security prison.”
Clay calls his “Rollin’ with Dice and Wheels” a reality podcast, and he records it anywhere he finds himself, which is often in questionable areas.
“There are some really unsavory characters,” Clay says. “It reaches levels of danger.”
Clay’s Showtime special, “Indestructible,” which was his first stand-up special in 17 years, came out on DVD in August. His autobiography, “The Filthy Truth,” comes out in 2014. And with all those meetings, it’s only a matter of time before audiences see Clay on a screen, large or small, again.
“It’s really an exciting time again for me,” he says.
Andrew Dice Clay
When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Emerald Queen Casino, Interstate 5 Tacoma Showroom
Tickets: $33.14-$76.03 at Ticketmaster. For those 21 and older only.
Information: At emeraldqueen.com and andrewdiceclayofficial.comCraig Sailor: 253-597-8541 craig.sailor@ thenewstribune.com