Andrew Dice Clay Recalls MTV Ban: ‘I Was the First One Canceled’
Andrew Dice Clay has looked back on his infamous appearance at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards, which resulted in his lifetime ban from the network.
“I was the first one canceled,” the comedian declared during an appearance on the Talk Is Jericho podcast before detailing the controversial set.
Clay was already one of comedy's fastest rising stars when he took the stage at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles on Sept. 9, 1989. His job was to introduce a performance by Cher, but things started to take a turn backstage when producer Dick Clark approached Clay.
“I can’t even believe I’m meeting him,” the comedian admitted. “Because I’m watching him since I was a little kid. It’s Dick Clark!”
The producer’s notes started innocuously enough. “He goes, ‘If you’ve got to stretch for time, I’m going to send Arsenio [Hall, who was hosting] over and you’ll play around with him,” Clay recalled, adding that things had gone poorly earlier in the night when two comedians similarly tried to vamp to fill time.
“So I go, ‘No, no, no, no. I’m not doing that. Because my career is happening. I don’t want to bomb at the Universal Amphitheatre in front of 6,000 people," Clay explained. "I go, ‘You can’t tell me that now.’ [Clark] goes, ‘Well I’m the producer of the show.’ I go, ‘I don’t give a fuck who you are!’”
The argument was soon interrupted as Clay was announced. The comedian then walked onstage with a chip on his shoulder.
Dick Clark Had to Be Stopped From Tackling Andrew Dice Clay
“I always had an expression: 'Nobody fucks with Dice. Dice does the fucking.' So, you think you’re going to tell me what I do out there?” Clay noted, before detailing some of the raunchy material he performed on MTV. “I’m talking about fat girls going, ‘You don’t know where the tits begin, the belly ends. It’s like one big glop of shit.’ And you gotta understand, this isn’t HBO. They called it cable, but any house could get it.”
Backstage, Clark was fuming during Clay’s set and reportedly tried to stop the comedian mid-performance.
“Arsenio had to jump him to stop him from getting on camera,” Clay recalled. “He tackled Dick Clark, because Dick was going to tackle me.”
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Clay eventually did introduce Cher and, after walking offstage, entered the nearby pressroom. “Not one question [was asked],” he recalled. “The next day, they weren’t even talking about the winners of awards. It was all about Dice.”
Watch Andrew Dice Clay at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards
MTV quickly announced Clay had been banned for life, but the comedian played little attention to the punishment.
“What do I care? I’m not a singer. I’m a comic,” he remarked. Instead, the comedian was much more focused on what the MTV appearance did for his career.
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“So now I’m doing like 80,000 people a week as a comedian, and the first comic to ever do anything like this,” Clay explained. “I couldn’t come up with names of tours quick enough. Every country was offering me deals, I just didn’t want to go to other countries. I didn’t need to. It was just absolute bedlam at my shows. The audiences, when I would tell a joke, they’d scream like if it was Elvis singing a song.”
Interestingly, there was one man who argued against Clay’s MTV ban: Dick Clark.
“They get all these top dogs of MTV together and they’re all like, ‘Dice is banned for life. He’s never going to be allowed on MTV again,’" Clay noted. "And Dick Clark, as calm as can be… He goes, ‘Do you really want to do that? This guy is the biggest thing in the world today. Why would you want to ban him for life? I’d have him back next year.”
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Gallery Credit: UCR Staff