Monday, April 07, 2008

Artie Lives!

I fulfilled a long-time dream and saw Artie Lange in concert on Saturday at the Gibson Amphitheater. I was so excited I felt like Eric the Midget flying with balloons! I have had a long-standing fear that Artie would succumb to his self-destructive tendencies and croak before I'd get to see him (see websites like Artie Lange Deathwatch).

As a longtime Stern Show listener, I was a big Jackie "The Jokeman" Martling fan and was skeptical in the beginning about Artie's ability to replace Jackie. It didn't take him long to win me over and he's now my favorite Stern show personality (well, maybe second favorite after George Takei). I like Artie's openness to talk about his lowest points, and I sympathize with his lack of willpower. As a listener, I go along for the roller coaster ride of Artie's life - and lately the ride has been mostly dips such as breaking up with Dana, admitting heroin usage, the flop of Beer League, and Hawaiian Punch/cupcake binges that have led to a huge weight gain.

To get to the show required braving Citywalk. I can figure out why tourists visit Citywalk - the shopping complex attached to Universal Studios theme park - but I can't figure out why so many locals go. The place is always jammed and the narrow streets are further glutted by street performers and large objects jutting out of the facades of the shops. Do Angelenos really want to pay $10 to park just to shop in the sock store and the magnet store? Apparently so. After surviving this walk, I rewarded myself with two beers at dinner.

Upon arriving at the show, we got another beer and a shot of Jack to get into an Artie state of mind.
The Bleeding Deacons opened the show. I hadn't heard of them, but I guess they do a lot of parody songs on the Stern show. A hearse parked outside the arena declared them "the most evil band in the land." The only thing really evil about them was the way they hogged the stage. I could have said an entire rosary during their set. I guess their best song was a speed metal cover of "You Gotta Fight for your Right to Party" but I spent most of their set back in the long line for drinks. The crowd was booing them to get off the stage. Artie later said he nearly punched the singer for staying on stage too long, and he declared they would not be opening for him ever again.

Pete Dominick took the stage and turned things around, while I consumed another shot of Jack and another beer. He did a brief but hilarious set, talking about being a bald guy. Next up was Reverend Bob Levy who was completely vulgar and awesome. Then came Greg Fitzsimmons, delivering a blistering set that ended with him berating a heckler and knocking him in the head with his microphone. Nick DiPaolo also came on and didn't impress me too much although to be honest I was drunk enough at this point to be laughing at everyone and everything.

At last, it was time for Artie. Initially, I was shocked by his grubby appearance and extreme girth, but I got over it. To get an idea of the current decline and fall of Artie,
watch this clip of him doing a blind cupcake tasting. Artie covered a lot of the usual Stern-related topics in his set and came up with some funny new bits, none of which I remember now due to my Artie-esque inebriation. I know he brought up Henry Hill at one point, and we all braced ourselves for a mob hit that never came. He also brought out George Takei to thunderous applause. Crazy Alice had been promised, but apparently she didn't like the car that was sent for her so decided not to come. Bummer, man. Blue Iris was in the crowd but didn't come up on stage. Apparently, Ryan Philippe was also in attendance, according to today's Stern show discussion.

I love Artie for his humanness, hedonism, and humor. If his life was the game Candyland he's currently stuck in Belushi Bog and in danger of drowning in Farley Falls. I hope he rights his ship, but not all the way.

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