Artie Lange took a little time off from admiring donuts and chain smoking Marlboros to appear on Michael Irvin’s radio show on Tuesday, and revealed what we’d pretty much assumed all along. His profanity-filled, over-the-top grossout performance during the debut airing of HBO’s “Joe Buck Live” last week was pretty much custom ordered by HBO and Buck himself.
I kind of figured as much when Buck made little attempt to rein him in during the broadcast itself, then professed mild outrage over Lange in subsequent interviews. But if you believe Lange — and there’s no reason not to, really — Buck got exactly what he asked for, and his outrage is fake.
Lange gave a blow-by-blow to Irvin during the interview on ESPN Radio in Dallas.
“Joe Buck came to me in the green room and said to me, ‘Listen, let me have it. You know what, you guys are here because you’re comedians.’ He said he’s a fan of mine, he knows what I do, he knows how I talk on the radio, he’s read my book, he’s seen my stand-up and it’s HBO and Joe said, ‘Let me have it.’ Ross Greenburg, the producer, said to me and I regret this because I love Paul Rudd and Jason, but he did say this in front of other people, he said, ‘Art, if this segment gets boring with these other two guys, you get in there and really inject some energy and go crazy.’ On HBO, you tell me something like that, I’m gonna think I’m gonna run with it. It’s HBO.
“They said, ‘We expected the guy we were going to get on Letterman.’ I’m on Letterman all the time and I kill talking about sports; Conan as well. But listen, could someone with an IQ above 70 explain to Ross Greenburg why I wouldn’t curse on CBS and why I would on HBO? It was a little boring. You’re always interesting and entertaining, but Brett Favre said nothing until today with the Vikings (he said maybe), the crowd was falling asleep, you were good, I came on and I felt it necessary to hit somebody with a knockout punch and that’s what I did. A lot of comedians love to create uncomfortable things and that is funny. I don’t tell you how to catch passes and you shouldn’t tell me what’s funny. I know what’s funny, man. I work for the funniest person who has ever lived, Howard Stern, and he makes stuff uncomfortable and that’s funny. The ratings went crazy, my book broke records the next week and guess what? The show is talked about all over the place and I’m on your show now.”
Calling Stern the funniest person who ever lived exhibits a special disconnect with reality that only Lange can bring. But he is right about one thing: Favre’s appearance was pretty much a bust, and the show, except for Lange, was boring. It’s generally being talked abut a week later only because Lange doused it with verbal kerosene and lit a match. OK, fine — but that’s not going to work a second time.
Lange did say that Buck talked with him after the show and said that he (Lange) had been a bit over the top, and did not invite him back for the second show. But Lange has no regrets.
“Construction workers left their site risking getting fired to hug me. Police officers pulled over and said, ‘You were the best thing I ever saw on television.’ People texted me that I hadn’t talked to in 20 years saying, ‘That was an epic appearance.’ Enemies of mine who owe me money, who I owe money to from years because I lost money on you called me and said, ‘That’s the funniest thing ever, they should make you the co-host.’ One hundred percent of the feedback was amazing. Strangers came up to me and hugged me. Every single guy in my demographic high-fived me and said it was great. They like you more as a person, Giants fans like you because you had a sense of humor and laughed at that stuff. So that’s the feedback I got.”
What exactly is Lange’s demographic, by the way? Tipsy chocoholics who need a shave and have been to rehab?
Oh, “Joe Buck Live,” I don’t believe you are long for this world. I’ll try to enjoy you while I can.