Artie Lange told me just a couple of weeks ago how happy he is doing comedy since he joined the Howard Stern show. I wish I could say the same about attempting to watch him perform in front of a Town Hall crowd full of Stern listeners. Imagine hundreds of hecklers, shouting insults and catchphrases throughout the show. The entire show. Unbearable.
As for Lange, he’s not as sharp as I remember him from a few years ago. He’s out of shape in more ways than one. Perhaps it’s from coming to terms with the Stern factor, knowing that most shows will attract these hecklers and fans who just want to hear him talk about things that have happened on the radio program. But this show wasn’t all about Lange. In fact, he came out first and acted as the host of the evening, delivering a half-hour of jokes and inside Stern stuff before bringing out three of his favorite comedians: Joe Matarese, Jim Florentine and Nick DiPaolo. With his 20 minutes, Matarese made a big effort to make himself known and remembered by the Stern crowd. Florentine, who just started dating longtime Stern sidekick Robin Quivers, knew his limitations. "I played a retard on TV. What’d you expect out of me? Did you think I was going to be highbrow?" He walked the entire row in front of me. Lange said DiPaolo is funniest when he’s angry, and I’d agree, though I’d add that DiPaolo tends to play to the back of the room. His opener: "Tonight, Town Hall, in front of 1,000 people. Tomorrow, Banana’s in Poughkeepsie. F–k this business!" Lange then introduced his "surprise guest," who turned out to be Stern regular Beetlejuice. The little guy tried out a few minutes of material that made no sense at all, in part because you couldn’t make out what he was saying other than "Did you see the guy…?"