Authors: Artie Lange
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To Mom & Stace
Without you there is nothing
Thanks Colin, Nils, & Amy
I must admit,
for the first few days after Artie called to ask me to write this foreword I was confused. A few questions bounced around in my mind: How did he get my number? Is that on the Internet now too? Why me? Was I next on his list after Bin Laden (not available)? What can I possibly bring to these pages that someone more qualified (like Bigfoot) can’t? After wrestling with the enormity of this task for a bit I decided to give it a shot because Artie and I have an interesting past. In case you didn’t know, he was a guest on my first HBO show in the summer of 2009. With all due respect to the Mayan calendar and its prediction of doom in 2012, that day sure as hell felt for a while like the end of the world to me. I was told by Artie that his appearance on my show is covered in this book, so I won’t go into too much detail about that night, however, it would be weird for me to not give my perspective.
First let me state that I, Joe Buck, was the one who had him at the top of the list for potential guests for the final segment of the show, which was to be a panel of comedians. I have been a fan of the
for a long time, and I knew Artie to be brilliantly funny, as well as a huge, smart sports fan. The “asks” went out, and Artie was one of the first to say yes. I was thrilled. Hell, I was happy to hear that
wanted to be on my show. Word came back that he was a
fan of my father’s work and that he really wanted to do it (considering how it turned out all I can say is that it’s too bad my dad wasn’t around to host). In the end, the panel consisted of Artie, Paul Rudd, and Jason Sudeikis, and to me, that was a solid lineup. Before the show, which was live, I went to the green room specifically to seek out Artie. I wanted to introduce myself and to let him know how big a fan of his I was. It isn’t tailor-made hindsight to say that he was what anyone would call “jumpy” when I went to say hi and the look in his eyes was a bit unsettling. That said, I specifically told him that when he got out there he should “light me up, give me shit, and bust my balls” because I could handle it—at least that’s what I thought. I wanted the show to have some edge and I wanted it to be different from any other sports talk show on cable, past or present. We didn’t get there the way I hoped, but I think we accomplished that goal at least, huh? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, a quick Internet search—which my daughters have been forbidden to do—will fill in the blanks. Artie did exactly what I asked and exactly what he was booked to do. And so began the LONGEST ten minutes of my life.
Artie lit me up. He had fun at my expense. And you know what? So what! It was a live show on HBO—AT NIGHT! He was raw, he was uncensored, and he was offensive. He was everything you can’t be on a prime-time network but could be on cable. Yet somehow the network that airs highbrow classics like
G String Divas
Hookers on Ice
got mad. Like they would say on
when things are unfair—WAHHH! Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy to take, but if Artie was messed up on horse tranquilizers, heroin, or just too much pudding, looking back, I really don’t care. In his mind, as a comedian, he was booked to be funny on a cable channel that airs comedy specials from Chris Rock and Ricky Gervais and a long list of guys who say whatever the hell they want, however the hell they want, so why wouldn’t he swing for the fences? Comedians on HBO are even allowed to say curse words—gasp! What else was Artie Lange supposed
to do, tell knock-knock jokes fit for a Girl Scouts meeting? He had to go for it—and he did. Was he harsh and over the line? Absolutely. Was he so cruel that he made me cry or truly pissed me off? Absolutely not.
Two days after the show I asked HBO for whatever contact information they had for Artie and I called him. I wanted him to know that I bore him no ill will and that I appreciated him coming on the show, no matter how it had turned out. I needed to let him know that as far as I was concerned, it was water under the bridge and I was just happy to have met him after listening to him on
for so long. He said that he’d gotten that first laugh and got a bit carried away and that he was sorry if his appearance had hurt my chances for the show to continue. He followed with, “Anything I can do to help you going forward, I will; I owe you that.” I took him up on that by asking if he would shoot the “cold open” for our next show. We’d do it in Times Square, he and I would appear together, and we’d poke fun at the incident and put it all to bed. The rest of the conversations, especially those with HBO, will be in my book someday, not this one. Artie agreed and a few days later, he and I stood in Times Square for an hour and a half shooting out in the open with hundreds of people filing past. He was great, and it was good to see him. The bit we shot killed in the room when it aired, and after the show a high-ranking executive admitted to me it was the right thing to do. It was over, well, except for the fact that every two weeks to this day somebody yells, “ARTIE LANGE!!!” at me as I enter a stadium somewhere. Once I got a Twitter account I also found out that, on average, every fourteenth tweet I receive would refer to Artie and HBO and probably always will. Fun . . . it’s the moment that has no death.
I don’t know Artie that well, but what I do know of him I like. No matter how many
s you’ve listened to or how many times you’ve seen
or seen him do stand-up, you don’t know him well either. We don’t know these larger-than-life celebrities as much as we think we do. Even though he revealed a
lot about his life on the show every day, we don’t know what shoots through his mind when he is onstage or ordering a hooker or contemplating a quick eight ball before bed. He is a complex dude who has a whirring mind that spins faster than most. As a listener I found his intelligence remarkable. He is a great mimic—think George Takei. He can remember lyrics from songs and lines from movies better than most—think
. And he seems willing to lend money to people who need it, even when he knows he probably won’t get it back—think interns. He comes off like someone who would be a good friend—the kind of guy who would give you (and a buddy) the shirt off his back. I like that type of guy, the world needs more of them. I read his first book and found out he was a momma’s boy who worshipped his dad, the man who introduced him to baseball. That sounded a lot like how I grew up. After the family suffered the tragedy with his father and his paralysis, obviously Artie’s life took a dark turn. But under all the hurt and the self-destructive behavior lies a good guy with a big heart who wants to do right. He is assisted in his career by his sister and still leans on his mom for help. Again, a lot like I do. I root for the guy, and I believe anyone who listened to his daily morning brilliance during his tenure on the
probably does as well. By the way, that show is like a test to me. For its critics it’s easy to dismiss as trashy and vulgar. I maintain you have to listen through the bluster and outrageous conversation to hear the way they root for each other and get along. There is a lot of heart and honesty to that show and you don’t have to listen long to really hear it.
There is no denying that Artie rocked my world when he appeared on my show. There is also no denying that I am there to help him if he ever needs it. We have a bond that is weird but since it gets brought up to me over and over again, I’ve come to understand it. That’s a good thing because it probably won’t go away, so why fight it? Artie has written two books now. That means he has asked for two
forewords to precede his stories. Only Howard Stern and I have had that honor. That’s cool to me.
This foreword represents my version of closure. No, not the part of Artie’s go-to pants that have been reinforced more than once, but closure to the perceived feud between a guy who broadcasts a lot of Yankee games and a guy who bets on a lot of them. Enjoy this book, and if you haven’t read it, go enjoy the first. And while we’re at it, here’s to Artie’s next book, a hat trick that will be a combination of the first two:
Too Fat to Burn
. Oh, and Artie, FUCK YOU! Love, Joe.
—Joe Buck, July 2012
All I can
say is that you only realize how big your mountain is once you’re laying motionless, helpless, and hopeless in the valley below. No one goes there on purpose, if you get what I’m saying, because the only way to find your personal low is to slip and roll down that mountain of yours, straight through to the bottom, no holds barred. Only when you’re in that ditch, lying there in the muddy runoff you’ve made of your life, gazing up at the peak you fell from, do you truly know how small you are and understand how tall you used to be. Down there at the bottom you can finally see the invisible zigzag path you followed, reliving every lump you took along the way. You feel the pain of each one again, and some others for the first time, as behind you the avalanche you’ve made of your life crashes toward you in slow motion, engulfing the people you care about; stifling you with the debris of your existence. The view from that gully is a front-row seat to the mess you’ve made, but it’s not the kind of show you want to see up close and personal. If you’re lucky and if you want to, if you’ve got the strength and good people willing to pick up what remains of you in your life, you can make it out alive and climb back into the world. If any of you reading this feel like you’re close to that pit, please read on: I’ve done your homework for you. At least I hope so, because I’d like to think the time I spent out
of my mind will do someone some good. My life changed, so in the end it did me some good, but if I can keep just one person from suffering a fraction of what I had to, then it wasn’t all for nothing. And that means something.