Tuesday, December 30, 2014


A few years ago Artie Lange* was on top of the world.  He worked on The Howard Stern Show, jetted off to weekend standup gigs where he made top money, and even put out a bestselling book of humorous stories about his life entitled** Too Fat To Fish.  At the same time, however, he was an addict, ingesting monumental amounts of drugs and alcohol, and barely functioning.  Things got so bad that at the start of 2010 he attempted suicide, stabbing himself in the abdomen several times.

He's back, mostly recovered, and tells his story in Crash And Burn.  About two-thirds of the 300 page book tell the story of his addiction.  The stories are often funny--objectively, a guy screwing up time after time can be amusing--but the overall effect is harrowing.  He was destroying himself, and not just physically.  His business relationships, such as those with Howard Stern's show, and his personal relationships, such as the one with his girlfriend Adrienne, were falling apart. Because, as an addict, nothing mattered except getting the next fix.

He was rich enough to deal with money problems, but he couldn't keep it up forever. Friends wanted him to get help, and there was even a short period he got clean, but it didn't take long for him to fall off the wagon. Finally came that night on January 2, 2010.  He was sick, high and depressed.  He claims he wasn't trying to kill himself, but, in his addled state, was just trying to get some sleep. So he drank some bleach which he figured would make him pass out. Instead, he vomited all over his place.  Then he took a knife and cut his stomach several times, figuring he'd bleed enough to pass out.  A bit later his mother called and then came over.  She discovered what he did and called an ambulance.

Artie spent some time in a hospital recovering, then some time in a mental hospital while they made sure he could safely be left alone.  Next he stayed over a year at his mothers place, but he continued to get high and regularly contemplated suicide. Finally, all but kidnaped*** by his good friend, comedian Colin Quinn, he went to a place where he dried out, followed by months of rehab.  At first he fought it, but finally started accepting he needed help.  He even admitted to himself it was an attempt at suicide. (Not his first, by the way--he notes in passing he took an overdose of sleeping pills while working at MADtv in the 1990s.) In the book he thanks many of his friends who stuck by him and helped out--his mother and sister, a lot of standups, and people like Howard Stern and Bruce Springsteen.

About two years after his suicide attempt, he was clean and sober again.  He started working on a sports talk show with fellow comedian Nick DiPaolo (whom he beat out to be Stern's sidekick). He even got back his girlfriend, Adrienne.  They still fought, though, and he started drinking again on a trip to Paris to see a Springsteen show. While he was writing the book, it looked like the relationship was done, But then, just before it went to press, they got back together and are engaged. For now, anyway.

So the book seems to have a happy ending, but who knows?  Artie's fallen off the wagon before.  I wouldn't be surprised to read he marries Adrienne.  And I wouldn't be surprised to read he kills himself, or dies of an overdose.

It's up to you, Artie. I guess we'll find out in his next book.

*It only just hit me now how "Artie Lange" sounds just like R. D. Laing.

**Some say "entitled" is wrong--that you should use "titled." I disagree and feel fully entitled to keep using the word.

***I spell it with one "p." Screw you, Horrible Bosses 2.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


3:58 AM, December 30, 2014  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

"*It only just hit me now how "Artie Lange" sounds just like R. D. Laing."

The Turing test is getting better. I suppose soon enough we'll no longer be interested in whether machines can pass it, but whether humans can.

12:53 PM, December 30, 2014  
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