On Jan. 2, 2010, Artie Lange from "The Howard Stern Show" was found on the floor of in his New Jersey home after he repeatedly stabbed himself with a kitchen knife. Miraculously, he survived the incident through surgery, hospitalization and rehabilitation.
Today the comedian is making a comeback with his own sports/comedy satellite radio/DirecTV program, "The Artie Lange Show," an upcoming book, "Crash and Burn" and a stand-up comedy tour that pulls into the NYCB Theatre at Westbury Saturday. Newsday spoke to Lange, 45, about his road to recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction as he ventures into the second half of his career.
What happened on Jan. 2, 2010?
I was a heroin addict and I'm ashamed that I allowed myself to become one. When you are on heroin, it takes over your soul and you become crazy. I lost my mind. That morning I was going through withdrawal and all I wanted, more so than dying, was to have that feeling of being woozy. Booze wasn't working; neither was anti-depressants. I felt if I lost blood I would get there. If a consequence of me trying to feel that way was that I died, I didn't care.
How did you recover?
It took over a year and a half to get well. The only way to get better is to hit rock bottom, crash into the mountain and somehow survive. Luckily, I've got great family, friends and fans pulling for me. I'm one of God's lucky ones who made it through.
Does your upcoming book address this?
The book will take you through the last four years of my life, which a lot has to do with the harsh reality of psych wards, rehabs and relapses. It's going to be an interesting read and another cautionary tale about dope. In this hard struggle with this disease, I am trying to stay clean and be a good person.
What was it like going back on stage after rehab?
I was just as nervous as the first time I went on stage. I did 15 minutes at the Comedy Cellar and the fans were right there. There was so much love in the crowd and the energy was going right through me. It was flattering and touching.
What is it about your personality that people instantly connect with you?
I'm not the kind of guy who gives people stuff to be jealous about. I'm not going to steal your girlfriend or look better than you. I think people appreciate the fact that I'm honest and that I have the ability to be funny.
How do you feel about taking on the responsibility of running your own show?
Working three feet from Howard Stern for almost a decade I've learned some stuff. Howard was a slave to one person, his listener in the car who is in traffic on the way to maybe a job they hate and need to be entertained. All he wanted to do is make that person happy. I try to take some of that theory and incorporate it in my show.
Why did you part ways with your radio partner Nick DiPaolo in January?
The separation was amicable. I've been friends with Nick for 17 years and we are still very good friends. I think he wants to do a different kind of show. He's pursuing the world of podcasts and will maybe host a political show. This was good training ground to get his feet wet. I think most people are OK with it.
Are you and Howard still friendly?
Yes, I think we will be friends forever. He's a good man and he's concerned about me. We don't see each other the way we used to because he's a busy guy. He just wants me to be OK after all that happened. There's nothing I wouldn't do for him. He was great to me and he's the reason I'm doing this.
When are you going to be a guest on the Stern show?
I can't guarantee it, but I would love to. What happened was so freaky that Howard wants to make sure nothing happens like that again. I can't speak for him, but you never know. It's fun because I've become a listener again. He's still the master.
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. tomorrow at NYCB Theatre at Westbury
INFO $51.50-$61.50, 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com