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Andrew Dice Clay ready for 50-capacity gig at Tropicana

Updated November 27, 2020 - 7:58 am

It’s been too long between rolls for Dice.

“It’s good to get on stage,” Andrew Dice Clay said during a phone chat this week. “You only want to get so rusty, you know what I mean. Performing is good for me mentally, and creatively.”

So it’s an even 50 for the Diceman as he returns to the Vegas stage at 10:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday (which is sold out), and Sunday at Laugh Factory at the Tropicana. Bob Zany, Jimmie J.J. Walker and Steven Pearl are performing the 8:30 p.m. shows Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Magician Murray Sawchuck returns to his residency 4 p.m. Friday, and Rich Little is back at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

It all means that, for the first time since March, Laugh Factory has restored its four-show lineup.

“We’re going to be using a lot of disinfectant,” club operator and comic Harry Basil says.

The Laugh Factory room usually seats 300, so this will be an especially exclusive engagement. Clay is hearkening to his developmental years as he plays to a pandemic-restricted crowd in the upstairs comedy club.

”Basically, it’s no people, which I was used to when I was coming up in show business,” Clay said. “We’d have 10 and 20 people, in the room, and it’s hard to even get laughs with my material. The saying was, if you wanted a quiet night out, see Dice Clay.”

That was in the early 1980s, when Clay was still honing his stand-up act to spotlight his Diceman alter-ego. He was typically relegated to the 2 a.m. slot, telling jokes to disinterested gatherings.

By the end of the decade, Clay was the first comic to sell out Madison Square Garden on consecutive nights. He’s since become an accomplished actor, leading with his debut in “Ford Fairlane” and gaining critical acclaim in “Blue Jasmine” and “A Star Is Born.” He’s headlined the since-imploded Riviera Comedy Club, the old Shimmer Cabaret (now Westgate Cabaret), and Vinyl at Hard Rock hotel before signing on with Harry Basil at Laugh Factory.

Also, Clay’s autobiographical series “Dice,” staged inside the Tropicana, ran on Showtime for two years. This particular Vegas residency opens a new chapter in his storied career.

“The audiences I have faced during this phase have been thrilled to be out of the house, and have been ready to laugh,” said Clay, who has headlined at such clubs as Gilley’s in Dallas, House of Comedy in Phoenix, and Governor’s Comedy Club in Long Island, N.Y. “So the 50 people a show doesn’t throw me, you know? The audiences have been ripe. They’ve just been smaller.”

Clay is appearing onstage behind a plexiglass barrier.

“It’s been all OK for me, as long as the light guy lights the stage properly,” Clay said. “But I like it. It’s actually easier for me to play 50 people than it is 500, or 5,000. You talk about an intimate experience, this is intimate.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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