Andy Dick: Back from the Brink

102.7 KIIS FM's Wango Tango 2014 - Arrivals

Comedian Andy Dick is hosting his weekly show on the online channel TradioV when he nonchalantly places a plastic cup filled with a little Hennessey cognac in front of his guest, Dinky the dog.

Dinky, a white-haired, doe-eyed Peekapoo outfitted in a colorful vest, happens to have more followers on the Internet than Dick, but that’s another story.

After mischievously placing the plastic cup of liquor temptingly close to Dinky, the host goes about discussing Dinky’s phenomenal popularity when Dick begins gesticulating rapidly and nervously, allowing his hands to flick a tad inside Dinky’s comfort zone.

Dinky snarls. Dinky growls. Dinky yaps. Then things really get out of hand as Dinky repeatedly lunges in staccato-like bursts as the host recoils in his chair while clutching the microphone in a defensive posture.

“Don’t (bleep) with Dinky’s Hennessey,” the comedian quips as studio guests and assorted hangers-on inside the cramped studio on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood break up laughing.

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After the June 18 show, Dick envisions ways he could have elicited even bigger laughs had he only scripted the human-versus-canine encounter.

“First, I’d say (to Dinky), ‘Don’t! You better not bite me.’ And then cut away to (co-host Paul Henderson) and then replace the dog with an obvious puppet dog. And then I go to touch him and have him bite me.”

There’s an old line credited to W.C. Fields that warns entertainers: “Never perform with children or animals.” Well, Andy Dick is living proof that his style of uninhibited humor only gets better when being attacked by a miffed mutt.

Now, cynics might look at such goings on and say, ‘So, it’s come to this, has it? Poor Andy Dick. He launched his career as a member of the cast of Emmy-winning ‘The Ben Stiller Show’ and found fame and fortune in NBC’s ‘News Radio’ and ABC’s ‘Less Than Perfect,’ and now he has to troll for laughs with miffed mutts?”

It will take lots of convincing to show Hollywood that the bespectacled, wise-cracking, rail-thin comedian with the long, curly, blond locks and nervous mannerisms, can walk a straight and narrow path devoid of addiction.

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Over the years, Dick’s drinking has resulted in numerous embarrassing news reports involving car wrecks, indecent exposure, urinating in public, throw beer bottles into a neighbor’s yard and groping a bartender and a patron.

“I’ve been in jail, oh, five or 10 times,” Dick told HollywoodNews. “I hate it. And I’m always crying and laying on cement. It’s cold. There’s a little window. It isn’t barred. It’s a solid steel door with a little window like this (his fingers trace an imaginary rectangle). I’m laying on the floor, on cement, and I can just see the officers looking in and…taunting me like a rat in a cage. And they won’t give me a blanket. It’s freezing. And all I do is cry and blow my nose into my shirt. They don’t give you anything. It’s horrible.”

But now Dick is hoping to parlay his celebrity back into the limelight. He is in pre-production on an indie film that his comedian pals in Hollywood hope can springboard his career.

The project is tentatively called “Run Like The… Hell!” a comedy about a man who’s in the U.S. Witness Protection Program.

The project is being spearheaded by producers Bob Debrino and David Walker. Debrino, a former New York City police officer, was a producer on the late Sidney Lumet’s 2006 courtroom drama “Find Me Guilty,” which garnered strong reviews for its star Vin Diesel. Walker is a former banker who is now writing and producing.

Written by Paul Henderson and Thomas Perry, Dick’s burly, long-time co-writer and comic sidekick, “Run Like The… Hell!” is currently being shopped to directors.

102.7 KIIS FM's Wango Tango 2014 - Arrivals

On the June 18 edition of “The Andy Dick Progrm” (and, yes, the word program in the title has no “a”), Demian Lichtenstein (“3000 Miles to Graceland”) dropped by the TradioV studio, where he expressed interest in helming Dick’s new project, although no deal has been made.

Debrino credits the script by Henderson and his business partner Walker, who knows financing, for getting the project this far along.

Debrino knows first-hand what it’s like to try restart the careers of actors who have histories of drug and alcohol abuse. One of his projects was tough-guy actor Tom Sizemore, whose career went south after bouts with drugs amid Sizemore’s turbulent relationship with former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss.

Debrino said some well-known Hollywood comedians like Stiller, Jack Black and Bob Odenkirk want Dick to succeed and would seriously consider making cameos should the film come together.

“I’m sure being the friends that they are, this is going to be a benefit to Andy,” Debrino said. ”They are definitely going to be there for him.”

The producer said he first came in contact with Dick about two years ago when he was dining at the West Hollywood restaurant Argo and noticed the comedian get into a fistfight with another producer. Sheriff’s deputies were called, Debrino said, but no arrests were made.

“About eight months ago, maybe more, I ran into him in a parking lot at the CVS pharmacy in Beverly Hills and we started hanging out,” Debrino said, adding, “…He’s over with drugs and booze. I’ve got him a counselor who’s going to be on the set with him…and I actually got him going to church. It’s going to be a long road.”

Dick is much more circumspect, when asked if he’s looking forward to the new film. “I love (the script) but I don’t believe anything (until it happens),” he said after his show.

Still, in Hollywood, you never know when lightning will strike. Dick remembers walking down the street one day years ago when Stiller drove up, rolled down the car window, and said, “Hey, I’m getting a show and you’re on it.” Dick said, “Good, thanks,” and kept on walking while shaking his head. “It’s like, he wasn’t anybody. I wasn’t anybody. And I didn’t believe it.”

But three months later, they were filming “The Ben Stiller Show” and that, as they say, was the beginning of everything, His rise began because the show won an Emmy posthumously after being canceled.
His career would encompass TV, films, albums and stand-up comedy. His career has been all over the map, from playing the son of Maxwell Smart and Agent 99 on a remake of “Get Smart,” to appearing on Comedy Central’s “The Gong Show”. His films included working alongside Luke Wilson and Jack Black in “Bongwater” to a gay sex ed teacher in Will Ferrell’s “Old School.”

But his quick wit made him a natural for the talk show format, which included “The Andy Dick Show” on MTV. Over the years, there have been various incarnations.

His present gig on TradioV started about a year ago.

Asked how much he’s made over the years, Dick replies: “Tens of millions. Not per year. At the top, it was between $2 million and $3 million a year. At one point, I was worth about $10 million. I owned a building. Two other properties. Now, I’m worth…look it up…five grand. It was never like that. I have cars that are worth more than that. I have four cars. I don’t drive.”

He claims that he is out of debt and when pressed about his current wealth, he says, “They say $3 million, but I don’t know where they get that figure. Maybe it’s in charisma!” he laughs.

Dick was born in Charleston, South Carolina, to an unwed teenaged mother and later learned he had been adopted. He admits it was difficulty growing up with the name Dick.

“It was hard for me—no pun intended,” Dick recalls. “Really the worst because I moved a lot. So, right when people were getting used to my name, we’re moving again. I never met any other Dicks. There are a lot.”
It wasn’t until his adoptive parents died that he went in search of his birth mom. He found the adoption papers stored in a garage belonging to a retired judge.

“There was a book about adoption called ‘The Primal Wound,’” he says. “The first sentence says, just so you know, you have a primal wound that will never heal. I closed the book and never read it.

“But I met my mom. We got into a great relationship. Then I said, ‘Mom, do you know who the dad is?’ (She said) ‘It was a one-night stand.’ She was 16. She got shipped off from Texas to South Carolina. She had me. Then she went back. Then I said, ‘Who’s my dad?’ She said, ‘Oh, he’s not a good man. I’m not going to tell you who he is. I’m not going to give you the number.’ I said, ‘But I want to (bleeping) know….I got mad at her and didn’t talk to her for about a year. She finally sent me a letter. She was real cryptic and weird about it. There was a piece of paper all folded up inside a piece of paper like a miniature envelope. I had to open it up and then open up this piece of paper and it was his number.”

So, he called up his birth father and said, “My name is Andy Dick and I think I might be your biological son.” Dick said the man on the other end of the line said “I don’t have a son” and hung up the phone.

“But then he called back a day or two later. He had called his daughter, who is actually my stepsister—same dad, different mom—(and then) called (me) back and said, ‘Okay, I think maybe you are my son because my daughter said you’re on TV. I immediately was like, oh, nowww you want to be my father! I was instantly enraged, but I brought him out (to L.A.) and met him. I had this gorgeous four-story loft near Universal (Studios) that overlooked the 101 (Freeway). I still miss that place. He was there and he as walking around (saying), ‘So, how much does a place like this run?’ He was so transparent about it and trying to size me up, my worth.”

His birth parents are still alive but he confessed, “I’m kind of an asshole and I don’t talk to them. I didn’t even call him on Father’s Day. It’s not very nice. I’m trying to get better. I almost called him but then I forgot. I didn’t think about them for 40 years. I met them when I was 40. And I found them!”

Now 48, the comedian has talked openly about being bisexual, He has been married twice and has three children. Last December, he married Lina Sved, the mother of his two youngest children, Meg, 16, and Jacob, 19. He has another son by a previous wife.

Dick’s drinking has often gotten him into trouble.

There was the time he went to an art walk in downtown L.A. and got soused on wine.

“I’m running through the streets because they had free wine and cheese and I just went nuts. I’m running through the streets. I don’t know what happened but the cops caught me, detained me, threw me in the back of their car, left me in their for hours. It was like a drunk tank, a dry-out tank… and when they thought I was fairly sober, they open the door like they’re opening the cage to a wild boll weevil (he likely means to say weasel) , they open it and say, ‘Get out Andy. Go home.’”

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Dick would justify his drinking by lying to himself, saying things like “I’m self-medicating” or, “I’m going through a bad breakup but I’m working. I’m still showing up at work.”

To be sure, he was going through personal turmoil. “There was a family thing. There were some personal things. There were some physical things. I just had constant diarrhea. It was really that bad.” He pauses to listen to the groans emerge. “That’s T.M.I.—too much information. PUT IT IN THE PAPER!

“There was a picture,” he adds. “My agent said, ‘Well you did it again.’ He loves pointing it out. I said, ‘Oh, Christ, what?’ (He said,) ‘There’s a picture of you in the (bleeping) paper. You’ve got your cell phone in one hand and your dick in the other and you’re peeing.’ And I went, ‘Oh, my God….did my dick look big?’”

Sometimes, the comedian’s notoriety precedes him. He recently was escorted out of “Dancing With the Stars” because they thought he was acting erratically.

“I did seven out of 10 episodes (of the show) last year,” Dick explained. “I went back (this season) because I’m obsessed with Iggy Azalea. I went back and she was doing the finale. I went back and they said I smell like smoke but that’s because my friend smokes cigarettes, I don’t. I don’t even smoke pot anymore. And they said, he’s acting erratic and leaving his seat, but really…I was leaving my seat to go say hi to my friends. I got to know all the different producers and the camera people and the makeup people and wardrobe people. So, I was doing that. I was completely sober…. But they did escort me out right before Iggy went on. And I know the security guys. So, the security guys are so sweet and tender with me. (They were saying), ‘I’m so sorry, but you do have to go.’ They’re not mean about it.”

Even if he stopped for a month—and he could stop drinking “on a dime,” he noted—it was hard. “You can’t just go cold turkey unless you put yourself in a facility and they can medicate you and you come off it. So, what I do now is, I just taper off and have one less drink per day. It takes about a week or two weeks and then…I don’t have the shakes. I get some…shakes in the morning. A little bit of the shakes and I need a drink. The D.T.’s. Delirium tremens.”

Henderson says Dick often gets a bad rap in the press.

“Half the stuff reported by the news is total bull…or we staged it,” Henderson confides.
“We just went out and faked things,” Henderson says. He compares Dick’s humor to the eccentric antics performed by the late Andy Kaufman.

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One incident that was widely reported, Henderson recalls, occurred in 2007 on Jimmy Kimmel Live when Dick was thrown off the show for touching Ivanka Trump’s bare leg while she was being interviewed by Kimmel. Henderson says the incident had been rehearsed but many still assume it wasn’t staged.

Dick and Henderson have been doing a comedy act for years. One of their most repellant—yet funny—routines had Dick telling the audience that Henderson was his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor and then invite Henderson up on stage. At some point, Henderson would go offstage, fill his mouth with soup, then return and pretend to vomit all over Dick.

“I would hit him in the face, get some in his mouth, so he would turn around and start to spit it out and every time we were hoping that he would finally vomit,” Henderson laughed. “But he would just dry heave every time. He’d be doing this every day, so he’d have to have a number of suits. Most of them he’d just throw away. Some of them he’d dry clean but he’d have to have a new suit every night.

“…He’s a wild man when he’s partying and he doesn’t care,” Henderson added. “But you know the thing about Andy that people don’t understand is that no matter if he’s drinking or sober, whenever he’s on the set, he’s always professional. He always come through. I’ve never seen anybody who’s a harder worker, who is improving nonstop and always there for the work. And that’s why he keeps working because he always delivers the goods.”

Dick admits that even while he’s sober, people often don’t believe him. He recalls going up to door managers at clubs all along Hollywood Boulevard and asking them, “Yeah or nay?” And they’d go nay.

Dick says, “If I went up now, they’d say, ‘Are you good? You seem good.’ (I’d go) Yeah.’ (And they’d say) ‘Come on in.’ So it’s really cool.”

Dick says he realized how bad his addiction was when his agent would call him up and yell at him.
“I didn’t want to pick up (the phone) because I didn’t want to be yelled at,” Dick says. “And then it turned out to be a big job and I missed it.”

It isn’t as if Dick didn’t try to kick his addictions.

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“I’ve done 17 rehabs. I’ve done sober livings. I’ve had sober coaches. I’ve had therapists, psychiatrists. I‘ve done every single discipline you can name from Transcendental Meditation to Buddhism… I’ve done everything you can do under the sun. My thing is, I will have a glass of wine. I don’t like to think that I can’t do anything…so every once in awhile I’ll have one. I used to have this weird rule…one glass of wine, with food. And I’ll leave about that much (an inch) in the glass of wine” before walking away.

Dick credits his daughter, Meg, with helping him stay on the straight and narrow path.
“She doesn’t have to keep me,” he said. “I’m trying to keep her. And in me keeping her on the straight and narrow, it’s helping. So, we’re helping each other. We’ve been having a little bit too much fun lately.”
Dick said he keeps sober by riding his bike everywhere.

“Somebody gave me a bike because I don’t want a car,” he explained. “I don’t want one. Riding my bike is better.”
Sometimes he rides down Hollywood Boulevard to the new theater he is planning to open in three months. It’s called Pollywog.

Back on the show, Dick finds that he not only has to deal with Dinky the dog but also Autumn the Chihuahua (who also has more followers on the Internet than Andy Dick). Dinky’s yapping gets Autumn to start barking and before you know it, both dogs are in full-blown alert mode.

Seated beside Henderson is Tim Walsh, one of Dick’s five guitar players over the years. He begins strumming, “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?”

“I’m sober,” Dick complains. “What the (bleep) is with this (bleeping) show? It’s the no alcohol. I need a little bit of Dinky’s drink.”
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Photos by and Matt Wysocki

Welkos can be reached at

About Robert W. Welkos

Executive Editor: Robert W. Welkos is an award-winning journalist who covered the entertainment industry for 15 years as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times. During this span, he wrote extensively about the movie industry from turmoil in the executive suites, the Academy Awards and Golden Globes, and box office hits and bombs to visits to movie sets as well as profiles of top stars and A-list directors, cutting edge features on the newest indie films and visits to famous film festivals like Sundance and Cannes. Prior to entertainment, Welkos worked as a reporter and assistant city editor in The Times’ Metro section where he undertook major investigations for the paper as well as covering breaking news and writing in-depth features. Before joining The Times, he worked for the Associated Press in Reno, Nevada, and City News Service in Los Angeles.

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