Artie Lange has been a core cast member of the Howard Stern radio show for eight years. Even if you are not a Stern listener, you may have encountered Lange as a regular on Mad TV, or through one of his other, often controversial television appearances. He is also the author of the best-selling memoir Too Fat To Fish, which was published earlier this year. Lange has just released his first comedy album, the aptly titled Jack and Coke (Shout Factory).
As a result of his celebrity, Lange has fought a very public battle with addiction over the years. He’s been known to miss work at his day job with Stern, or to fall asleep at work if he does make it in. It’s not just his comedy that’s edgy and raw. His life is lived right on that same ragged edge. The thing is, it’s nearly impossible to dislike the guy, and you can’t help but find yourself rooting for him through all of his struggles. He can have you laughing uproariously with his tales of hookers and eight-balls, and in the next moment have you near tears as he talks about his late father.
Jack and Coke is, as you might expect, profane, politically incorrect, vulgar, and yes, very funny. Any comedian who begins his set with the words, “I’m glad Heath Ledger died, and I’ll tell you why,” is prepared to take some chances. Lange follows that with a rather explicit description of his own alleged audition for Brokeback Mountain. For him, there is no idol too sacred to smash, no pretentious balloons that he’s unwilling to put a pin in, and no thought that needs to remain unexpressed. It goes without saying that if you’re easily offended, Jack and Coke is not for you.
Lange, appearing before an overwhelming supportive New York City crowd, riffs on a variety of subjects here. He is known to be a great sports fan, and his targets include sports figures like Tom Brady, Alex Rodriguez, Mike Tyson, and Lawrence Taylor. He can be brutal, and brutally funny, but what makes it all work is that he saves the greatest criticism for himself. If there’s ever been anyone as aware of his shortcomings as Artie Lange, I’ve yet to encounter them. Self-absorbed? Well, yes, but I have I mentioned how funny it is? Besides, what great comedian hasn’t been self-absorbed?
Jack and Coke contains a few references that you won’t pick up if you’re not a Stern show listener, but you’ll laugh like hell if you are. It also contains many references that your children probably shouldn’t hear until they’re about 40. For everyone else, this is some funny shit.