Artie Lange on Showtime’s The Nasty Show and finding serenity in his kitchen-based podcast
When was the last time Artie Lange was too nasty for his own good?
As he told me in December on my podcast, The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First: “It was at my friend’s house. My friend’s brother had married a black girl, and I didn’t realize it. And I was watching a Knick game I had a bet on, one of the Knicks missed a shot, and I said some stuff I probably shouldn’t have.”
And now you no longer own the Clippers.
“Hahaha. No. I wasn’t really racist. But it was more stuff that could be open to interpretation and stuff.”
The Nasty Show Hosted by Artie Lange premieres Friday night on Showtime, with Lange presiding over a lineup of Mike Wilmot, Mike Ward, Gina Yashere, Luenell, Jimmy Carr and Gilbert Gottfried -- as filmed last July at Montreal's Just For Laughs festival.
What do you remember about the first time you performed at The Nasty Show at Montreal’s Just For Laughs?
“It was 17 years ago. I was doing cocaine at an Expos game. That’s how long ago it was,” Lange joked. “They went away and I stopped doing coke sometime in the late 90s. But I just remembered how great the audiences are, because they always – they yearn to hear adult comedy. A lot of comedy is very safe nowadays. The Nasty Show, by definition, is supposed to be adult-oriented comedy, and I think they liked going out and hearing guys curse! Being a little dangerous! That doesn’t happen as much anymore. So the atmosphere is usually kind of electric because the fans are way into, you know, it’s kind of a pathetic take on the world now. But they’re like, ‘Wow. We’re going to act like grown-ups. Hear a person curse and maybe someone will smoke a cigarette or something.’ Crazy stuff.”
Lange has never considered himself a "nasty" comedian, though.
“No! It’s so hard to write jokes with no boundaries. Why give yourself limits?” he said. “I never considered myself a specific type of comedian. I’m the kind of comedian that tries to say funny stuff.”
Lange is able to say funny stuff these weekdays now from the comfort of his own kitchen in Hoboken, N.J., to the tune of some $600,000 per year, according to his calculations from his independent paid-subscription podcast at ArtieQuitter.com. The podcast model came about after his fallout with DirecTV back in 2014.
As Lange told me during my podcast, Last Things First: "“I met with other people secretly. One was Sirius. I think they probably found out about it and they beat me to the punch, and a few months before I was going to leave, they let me go. Which was fine. It was the greatest three years to come back into the world. But the logical thing at that point was maybe to try podcasting. And they paid me for the whole three months so I couldn’t work anywhere else, and that gave me a chance to make my stand-up special as good as I possibly could. I shot that. I was proud of it. And the podcast turned into a business.”
“There’s some stuff I’ve got brewing in the new year, that I’ll probably make some sort of announcement in the new year.”
How'd Lange arrive at the idea of not just going his own way with an independent podcast (not part of any network, yet), but also asking fans to pay for it?
“Before I started, I talked to a bunch of people,” Lange told me. “Obviously not a lot of people pay for a podcast. But this one guy said to me, I was just about to do the advertising thing, but this one guy said to me, he goes, ‘You’re one of the few guys who might be able to get people to pay, because you had eight-and-a-half years on the Stern show, which means you have a following that’s pretty hardcore, and maybe they’d do it!’”
His friend suggested $10 per month. “I said I’m going to try $7 a month. I started charging seven bucks a month, and the numbers I do, if you’re going to apply it to advertising a podcast for free, it would be a complete and utter failure. But I have about 9,000 people who signed up. And that’s nobody for an advertising thing, but it’s 63 grand a month! It costs me 150 grand a year in overhead, so I’m making about 600 grand a year from the podcast, and I do it in my kitchen!”
“And I’m making about 6-700 (thousand) a year in stand-up, so I’ve landed into this insanely casual life – where, again, I’m no brilliant business guy – but if the guy said, again, 9,000 people, the advertisers would go, ‘Oh my god that’s terrible,’ but with me, it’s insane money! There’s not many people who get anybody to pay a dime for it. It’s a quarter a day. But the Stern fans are so hardcore, enough pay for it. And it’s growing. I did zero advertising, so I just signed with UTA and they can’t believe the situation, and they say, ‘Well, can we take our digital department and in the new year, just try to blow it out.’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ Getting to 20,000 people within six months is not so far-fetched. Based on that, I’ve gotten offers from other areas, that’s what the announcement will be.”
STAY TUNED FOR THAT!
“I’ve never been more comfortable in a lifestyle in my life,” Lange told me. “Happiness has been something that’s eluded me, on paper, for a long time. The kids I went to high school with are like, why are you not happy? I’m like, I don’t know. But I’m getting older. I’m 48 and the lifestyle I have now is the closest I’ve ever been to something you’d call serenity, that’s for sure.”
Here are some preview clips:
Artie Lange: Sex With Pets
Gilbert Gottfried: Hitler’s Grandson
Gina Yashere: Not A Fan
Jimmy Carr: Up A Level
Luenell: Gift Giving
Mike Ward: The ‘R’ Word
Mike Wilmot: Dad’s Funeral