SANTA ANA, Calif. — Andy Dick is no stranger to the bizarre.
In his nearly 20-year career he has taken on some colorful roles and created memorable characters — including the outrageous Daphne Aguilera, Christina’s mother’s best friend’s cousin, who lives down the block.
His personal life has proven equally as bizarre, with wild behavior — including numerous run-ins with the law over drug possession — making him an easy target for tabloids and celebrity news sites. He says he’s been to rehab 10 times now; his most recent arrest last July in Murrieta, Calif., this time for sexual battery as well as marijuana, prompted him to clean up his act.
Now 43, a sober Andy Dick is taking his new one-man show on the road to comedy clubs. Coincidentally, we spoke with him on the first anniversary of his sobriety.
The troubled actor’s last attempt at rehab was done in front of reality-TV cameras as part of VH1’s “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” spin-off “Sober House.” After the Murrieta arrest, and just four days sober, Dick joined a group that included former adult film star Mary Carey, former Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler, former “American Idol” contestant Nikki McKibbin, and Rodney King.
The show taped last summer but aired in January. Dr. Drew Pinsky of “Loveline” fame provided the “Sober House” participants (celebs with substance-abuse addictions transferred from hard-core rehab to a sober-living house) with outpatient counseling and care during their time in the home. On the show, Dick was forced to face his demons on camera — and make amends with his 21-year-old son, Lucas.
“It wasn’t hard for me at all to do the show,” he says, “because my life has been such an open book and the public had already read all of the bad, nasty and dirty chapters. So I wanted them to turn the page.
“I wanted people to see where it all came from, and maybe get to the root of some of the problems. I thought they might want to see the struggle underneath the problem, and see that there’s a real person behind all of that. Alcoholism and drug abuse is rampant in our society — it’s kind of a pandemic that people don’t really talk about. It’s swept under the rug so quickly because you don’t talk about your own problems. You ignore them until it blows up in your face.”
Sobriety has enabled Dick to hone his stage act with a clear head — though that doesn’t at all mean it will be boring, he says. The act consists of various songs with stories told in between, but don’t expect any jokes. He contends he’s not a stand-up comic or a joke-teller.
“I’ve been calling the show ‘Andy Dick: The Musical.’ I do something that’s a mixture of (avant-garde musician) Laurie Anderson meets (controversial performance artist) Karen Finley meets Andy Kaufman. It’s nothing like you’ve seen before and it’s nothing you’ll see again because the same show is never repeated. Every show is like a snowflake or a fingerprint.”
And, he adds, just because he’s sober doesn’t mean he wants his audiences to be the same during his performances. “I like people to come to my show and drink. I have no problem with people drinking in front of me. I encourage it. Have fun, go nuts — have one for me, actually.”
To further insure that Dick remains dry, law enforcement in Riverside County, Calif., slapped on an alcohol monitoring anklet, part of his sentence after the July 2008 arrest.
“I would not be drinking even without it because I had already been sober for three months before they put one on. But at this point it’s just a physical inconvenience. I can’t swim or take a bath, and my summer kind of sucks to be honest. I’m not a fan of this. ... They put it on too tight and it’s kind of creating a blister on my ankle, and it vibrates every half-hour and disrupts my sleep. I don’t recommend this to anyone.”
Growing up, Dick was always fascinated with the theater. He found Albert Brooks hilarious, and since his last name is Dick, he was constantly a target for jokes. He always took his classmates’ ribbings in stride, though, viewing the teasing as having his own personal comedy writing team around him 24/7.
Dick has had roles and cameos in numerous feature films and TV shows, including “The Ben Stiller Show,” “NewsRadio” and, in 2001, “The Andy Dick Show,” which aired on MTV for three seasons. He liked to play dress-up on his show, spoofing all manner of celebrities — but his favorite character remains Daphne Aguilera, a creation so amusing to him that appeared in her guise at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards.
“Daphne is close to my heart,” he says, “and I like doing her because I can really let my hair down, so to speak. I like being nasty and just going nuts. She’s a nasty (girl) and I can just go full-on with her.”
Yet, although he’s been part of numerous sketch comedy shows and is often thought of as a comedian, Dick insists he isn’t. He tried stand-up when he was in his 20s but quickly realized it didn’t suit him.
“I’m not a comic, and I never really called myself a comic because what I do on stage is more of a one-man show that just happens to be in a comedy club. It’s the weirdest position to be in because I’m an actor — I can do any kind of acting, even dramatic acting, but I’m considered by people to be more of a comedic actor. People tend to laugh ... even when I’m not trying to be funny.
“I love acting. I love having people be moved emotionally, spiritually or psychologically, or have their buttons pressed, or be surprised or shocked, or to have people laughing or crying. If they’re being moved and taken out of their humdrum, that’s what I like.
“My life is pretty dull, actually, and I like to be taken out of it from time to time and shaken up and put back down like one of those snow globes. Pick me up, shake me and put me back down — and for 30 seconds it’s just snowing in my head. If I can do that for other people, that’s all I want.”