By Susan Lacke
Pre-show at the Peppermill Concert Hall in Wendover, a sign is projected on both sides of the stage:
Naturally, when Andrew Dice Clay took the stage, the first thing he did was light up a cigarette. And then another. And then six more. Because he’s Andrew Dice Clay, and he does whatever the eff he wants.
Apparently, that includes show up whenever he wants. When opening act Shayma Tash took the stage, the crowd was excited and ready to laugh. Tash shot out of the gates with animated zeal, but something seemed amiss – why was Tash looking off-stage after every punchline?
Tash’s signature joke, a parody of the Home Shopping Network, should have been her strongest. In it, she takes a purse from an audience member and describes the contents with the over-effusive spirit of an on-air pitchman. The audience laughed heartily as she described the exterior (“It comes with a free shoulder strap! You can pull it to make it longer! I wish I could say the same about my husband!”).
Then the joke – and the enthusiasm – started to decline. After ten minutes of inventory, only polite laughter could be heard. Three Bic lighters and seven matchbooks for a pack of cigarettes is strange, yes, but not at a venue attached to a casino, where everyone wins the lung-cancer jackpot. Was it really necessary to describe each flame source in detail?
It became obvious Tash was stretching to fill the time (and stretch she did – the opening act ran only two minutes shorter than the headlining act).
Despite the mid-set dip (during which the glances at her off-stage crew became more noticeable), Tash finished strong, priming the audience for the headlining act with her edgy wit and physical, character-driven style of storytelling.
And then the real character appeared. Andrew Dice Clay sauntered onto the stage to a standing ovation, clad in his signature black clothing and leather gloves.
For the next 45 minutes, Clay paced the stage and unleashed the crude, foul, controversial and outrageous thoughts of his signature persona. No topic was off-limits: everything from Pokemon Go to the practice of, er, bleaching one’s “exit chute” was discussed. Filthy nursery rhymes were recited. The crowd went wild.
There were, of course, Mormon jokes. It was clear Clay was excited to be in spitting distance of Salt Lake City, where he could apply his no-holds-barred commentary to the stereotypes of the Mormon church. After delivering a particularly satisfying declaration about having sex with multiple wives, Clay gestured to a couple in the front row.
“You know what I’m talking about?”
Yes, they said, they actually did. They were polygamists. The male was at the show with his third wife. In their family, there were four wives and seventeen kids.
“You don’t say,” Clay replied, pulling up a chair to devour the rich fodder the Comedy Gods had bestowed upon this show. It was perfect.
Almost too perfect. As Clay conversed with and commented on the couple, it seemed like they were pitching softballs for Clay to knock out of the park. Something seemed fishy – a polygamist couple, in the front row at an Andrew Dice Clay show, talking so openly (and crudely) about their sex life? It didn’t seem right. Was the couple a plant? Were they trolling Clay? We’ll never know.
Then again, did the audience really care? After all, they came to see a character, not a TED Talk. Clay gave them that character, even if it felt a bit forced.