Just for Laughs Chicago: Wrangling the Free-Wheelin’ Andy Dick

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CHICAGO – Andrew R. “Andy” Dick is one of the most brilliantly infamous and misunderstood comic forces in the last twenty years. Appearing at Superstation TBS “Just for Laughs” Festival in Chicago, he combined farce, music and pure Andy in his show.

Andy Dick is very, very calm in Chicago on June 19, 2009
Andy Dick is very, very calm in Chicago on June 19, 2009
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

During a rollicking interview with HollywoodChicago.com, Dick went over his career and philosophy, between bouts of singing Edie Brickell songs (”Where is she now?” he wondered, before speculating about her work on a part of Paul Simon’s anatomy).

HollywoodChicago.com: Your bio indicates that you moved around a lot as a kid. What area of the country most influenced your ever-evolving style of performance?

Andy Dick: Besides the first one, from Connecticut to Pennsylvania, which hurt and was emotionally jarring, the one that cracked my head open like an egg was moving from the United States to Yugoslavia. It was horse and buggies and a farmer’s market. It was a silver bullet train that went to the big city. I lived outside Zagreb for a whole year, and opened my mind up on every level. It was fantastic.

HC: Do you think some of your more notorious circumstances are merely performance art in real life that others simply don’t get?

AD: Let’s say that. I love that, and yes.

To be honest with you, I don’t know what percentage it is and over the years my real life took over and bled into my performance art. We can flash back all the way to the Aspen Comedy Festival, where I did a pre-planned vomit routine. I’m infatuated with vomit.

They thought it was all real and I’ve never been asked back to that Festival. So there are some things I do, and do well, that people don’t get.

HC: Is your character of “Queen of Pop” Daphne Aguilera based on anyone?

AD: It’s loosely based on on my Mom, because not really, because my mother wasn’t a whore (laughs). Daphne is a lush, and my Mom drank a lot. My Mom was a great woman, but she was married until she died. I love Daphne.

Andy Dick in Chicago on June 18, 2009
Andy Dick in Chicago on June 18, 2009
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

HC: Where does the influence come from, family or performance experience, in your ability to step over the line sometimes?

AD: I think it comes from the fact that my Dad was a Lieutenant Commander on a submarine in the Navy and he ran his family like a tightly run ship. And I felt like I was on a sub under nine miles of water. And I couldn’t breathe.

I needed to get out and break the bubble. And I did. I got out and did my thing and ninety percent of my career is in retaliation against my Dad. I did love and respect him, who died before my career took off and I do wish he were here to see it.

HC: Since you were involved in the 1995 spin-off of the concept, what was it about “Get Smart”? What was your weirdest experience on that show?

AD: When I did the spin-off – it only lasted seven episodes – I was the son, Zach Smart, of Don Adams’ Maxwell Smart. I worked with Don Adams, and he was great, it was working with a legend.

He was getting older, and couldn’t remember his lines. There was one time, when all he had to say was ‘picky, picky’ in that Maxwell Smart voice. He forgot picky, picky and it came out as ‘ticky tacky’. I fell on the floor laughing.

HC: Didn’t you also do an episode of Star Trek:Voyager?

AD: Yeah, and I couldn’t remember those lines to save my life. You can’t improvise the names of phaser guns. You can’t say, ‘hand me the ticky tacky, Lieutenant Picky-Picky.’ You couldn’t do that on Star Trek:Voyager.

I was a hologram doctor, so I posted my lines on post-it notes, like Marlon Brando, all around the consoles, because we were on a space ship. But I wasn’t wearing my glasses, so I couldn’t see them. I was literally crying, saying I couldn’t do this. Beam me up, ticky-tacky (laughs).

HC: What type of scripts or roles are you offered now and do any of them make you wonder what the industry thinks of you?

AD: Precisely. I just got offered a role as a guest star in a pilot and they want me to play a Joe Francis type [Girls Gone Wild]. He’s a guy who goes around trying to get girls to take their tops off. I’m like, guys I don’t want to do that!

HC: Have you recorded the songs with your band [Andy Dick and the Bitches of the Century]?

AD: I have four albums on iTunes. The recordings are good, but the live version is better, because every show we do I add a new little ‘ticky-tacky’.

HC: Were you advised to change your name, like Tim Allen did, because he was originally Tim Dick?

AD: When I got to Los Angeles, my agent at the time said, ‘first things first, we’re changing your name!’ And I said, no we’re not, that’s like giving the middle finger to my family. So then I spent the next twenty years defacing the name anyway (laughs). I should have changed my name, they we’re right (laughs).

HC: Finally, how would you categorize yourself as a performer?

AD: I call myself a provocateur, not a comic. I use my acting skills to adjust the equalizer between emotion and action. To provoke an audience and get them to believe in something that is not happening. I also call myself a performance artist.

There is one bit I do where we freeze at the end, and there is about 3 minutes of silence. The audience is digesting it, in their mind and body and soul, they’re processing it. And that silence is not uncomfortable to me, I like it. I live in that silence.

TBS ‘Just for Laughs’ Chicago runs through June 21st, 2009. Click here for tickets and details. Find out all about Andy Dick here.

HollywoodChicago.com staff writer Patrick McDonald

Staff Writer

© 2009 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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