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Andy Dick

First-Time Director

by Jay S. Jacobs

Love him or hate him, one thingís for sure Ė you simply canít ignore Andy Dick. 

One of the most irreverent comic voices on the scene, Dick has occupied his own unique niche in show biz.  He has played goofy sidekicks on two long-running show-biz themed sitcoms (NewsRadio and Less Than Perfect) giving those shows a jolt of off-kilter surrealism.  His more experimental tastes have been aired out on two respected MTV sketch shows.  He was one of the regulars in the cult-classic The Ben Stiller Show and then allowed his cracked comic vision full reign in The Andy Dick Show. 

And if the tabloids tend to obsess about his off-screen antics Ė like the dust-up with former NewsRadio co-star Jon Lovitz or being removed from the stage on Jimmy Kimmel Live for being just a little too friendly with newly-buxom heiress Ivanka Trump Ė itís all just grist for the mill for the eccentric mind of Dick. 

His latest project is Danny Roane: First Time Director, a semi-autobiographical mock documentary that finally allows Dick to be a multi-hyphenate (writer-director-star) on a feature film project.  Roane tells the story of a former sitcom sidekick who is trying to get his career back on track by directing a movie Ė while desperately trying to stay on the wagon. 

Any resemblance to real life is kinda intended. 

Lots of Dickís famous friends drop in for cameos, including Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Jimmy Kimmel, James Van Der Beek, Anthony Rapp (Rent), Bob Odenkirk and his former sitcom co-stars Maura Tierney (formerly of NewsRadio, now a long-time regular on ER) and Sara Rue (Less Than Perfect). 

However, itís Dickís own warped world view which playfully runs roughshod over the plot.  As Danny Roaneís pet project swerves further and further from his original plans, Dick rides his swinging moods and mostly-destructive urges downhill with no brakes Ė turning the fictional directorís life into an out-of-control wreck. 

Soon before Danny Roaneís video release, Andy gave us a call to fill us in on his labor of love.

So how much of Andy Dick is in Danny Roane? 

Well, how I describe it is Ė I had to actually mute some things about meÖ or turn them down, so to speakÖ just so that people can stomach them.  Then there are things that Ė just for the dramatics of them Ė I turned some things up.  Like, I would neverÖ you know, the weird thing is, I was just about to say that I would never pee on Jimmy Kimmel, (laughs) yet I have tried to pee on Steve-O from Jackass on TV.  The weird thing is, I shot the scene where I get dragged off of Jimmy Kimmel for trying to pee on himÖ I shot that a year before I actually got dragged off for groping Ivanka Trump.  Isnít that interesting?  People are going to think that it is based on the Ivanka Trump groping scenario (laughs again), but itís not.

A lot of your friends Ė like Jimmy, Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Maura Tierney and Sara Rue do cameos in the film.  How did they get involved and how fun was that? 

Iíve always worked with them.  Iíve been working for about twenty years.  They know the real me.  They know that Iím truly not a monster.  Iím actually quite professional.  They also know Iím not going to make crap.  Everything that Pollywog, my production company, has ever made Ė in fact our motto is: We make things that donít suck.  If you go to my website, andydick.com, thereís just all these great things.  None of them suck.  All of them are good.  They know that.  Maura Tierney Ė sheís so sweet, man.  Thatís one of my favorite scenes.  Itís so short but itís so sweet.  You can see the concern in her eyes when sheís looking out the window with her cup of coffee, at me naked on her lawn.  (laughs)  I love it.  I love that.  I love heart.  Thereís a little bit of heart in my movies that I appreciate.  I think I could have had a little more, but Iím glad that thereís not too much, because my next movie is going to have a little, little bit more.  But, with Maura Tierney, then I did a really nice, juicy guest spot on ER.  That was really fun.  Then, of course, I got Jack and Ben Ė I pulled in my favors, because Iím always doing favors for them.  Iím always doing cameos in their movies.  Weíre pretty close.  Theyíre shooting Ė Ben and Jack are shooting Tropic Thunder right now.  Iím probably going to go visit them on the set.  They were in Hawaii, but now theyíre at Universal Studios and I think Iím going to pop over on the set.  I put those guys in to draw in the audience, but Iím more excited about my friends who are untapped veins of comedy gold Ė like Paul Henderson, the bigÖ like 400 poundsÖ he plays the producer guy.  And Bob Odenkirk, who is one of the funniest guys I know, but doesnít really have a big acting career.  I think he should, because heís really funny. 

What was it like being a first-time director Ė not to mention screenwriter and star?  I know youíve directed some shorts and some TV directing, but this is your first feature length film. 

Yeah, Iíve done tons of shorts.  I was making films when I was about eleven years old with a Super 8 camera Ė and I havenít stopped.  So Iíve always made shorts that had beginnings, middles and ends.  In high school I made many Ė probably twenty different shorts with Anthony Rapp alone.  I made hundreds of them with other people.  But Anthony Rapp, who is in this movieÖ 

Yes, he plays himselfÖ 

Yeah!  He and I used to make shorts all the time.  If my brother was availableÖ heís not an actorÖ but heís in my movie.  Jeff Dick is in my movie.  He plays the Hassidic Jew who gets chased by Hitler.  Whoeverís around, give me a camera and letís start shooting something.  It was always just fun for me.  It was always a hobby.  I just translated that into a much longer feature film.  It was more difficult in my mind before I did it.  In my mind, Iím like: Thereís no way I can do this!  I donít know what Iím doing when it comes to a feature film.  But you know what?  It was sooo easy.  I should have been doing this ten years ago Ė making one per year like Woody Allen.  Thatís my goal, to make one per year.  I have another great idea that Iím flushing the script out right now. 

Is that the Daphne Aguilera one? 

The Daphne one is already written.  Thatís ready to go.  But, no, not that one.  That one I decided not to even use my script and to just take skeletal scenes and just shoot it Borat-style Ė to throw Daphne into these scenarios and the scenarios all kind of string together to tell one big story, a la Borat.  Thereís a lot of improvising.  But now, thereís this great idea I have that is also based on a short that I did.  I donít want to tell you which one, but itís on my website.  Itís one of these shorts thatís on my website that I did on one of my TV shows.  But, yeah, Iíve done commercials that have won awards.  Iíve done short films.  Iíve done music videos that have won awards.  Iíve done lots of good things.  And then Danny Roane, which I donít think has won any awards, yet.  (laughs)  I donít know if it would, because it really didnít come out in theaters.  But I think itís better straight to DVD, because Iíve shot it on video Ė on Panasonic cameras Ė and it actually looks better on your TV than it does on a big screen.  I saw it on a big screen at South by Southwest and it just gets a littleÖ when itís really, really big, itís just not as sharp as when itís right on your TV, right in front of you. 

Well, itís also done in a fake-documentary format and anymore most people are used to seeing them on television rather than on screenÖ


How do you think that format adds to the opportunity to bring out humor in normal situations? 

I love that format.  I love it because people are so comfortable with documentaries so they can really kind of relax into it and they can feel like itís really, really, really happening.  I am good at that.  Iím good at capturing moments that are super-real, so it feels real.  I think everybody in the movie did such a great acting job.  They were just really, really good.  It just feels believable.  It feels like a real true story. 

In the end, Danny doesnít really conquer all of his demons or succeed in his directing.  How important was that sense of reality to you Ė that people donít always reach their plans and dreams? 

Incredibly important.  I really wanted the ending to be not happy.  Heís going back to rehab.  I have these little promotional video blogs that were bleeding out onto the Internet that Danny Roane stars in.  Heís making these video blogs from rehab, talking about how thereís this movie coming out where they documented him making his movie, Ded Dream.  That just keeps the reality alive.  Heís still in rehab.  (laughs)  Heís going to be there for nine months. 

Danny is not necessarily a likable character, particularly when heís drinking.  How hard was it to keep the audience on his side? 

I donít know.  I didnít really try to do that Ė and maybe I should have.  Because, my friend is doing a movie and I keep telling him, you know, you really have to be more likable.  I was literally giving him acting notes, even though he was directing.  You might want to do that again and just not be so condescending or not be so defensive.  Youíve got to be likable.  I didnít focus on that [in Danny Roane] and like I said, maybe I should have focused on keeping DannyÖ having that sympathy where Ė you know, the guy is just a wreck.  Heís battling these alcohol demons.  Thatís a part that maybeÖ.  But I think people get that.  I think they get it.  And that is how it is with me.  There are times when I drinkÖ not all the time, if I can maintain my drinking and drink like a gentleman, things are great.  I can do that for a while.  But if I get drunk Ė even if I get drunk it can be really happy Ė but every once in a while I can get drunk and just be a monster in real life. 

Your humor is extremely in-your-face and politically incorrect Ė like for example the musical scenes about AIDS and Hitler.  Do you ever worry that youíll go to far for people? 

I used to not really care at all.  Now, itís more important for me Ė not that Iíve gone too far Ė but that itís just old hat.  I donít want to be clichť or boring or old hat.  Like, I see now, thereís an actress out there that has literally made a career doing what I have been doing.  And she does it bigger, better, stronger and constantly.  Do you know who Iím talking about? 

I think so, yesÖ



Yeah.  Sarah Silverman.  She has like taken what Iíve done Ė and I sprinkled or peppered my comedy with that if you will Ė where she has literally taken the lid off of the pepper and covered the Caesar salad in it.  Itís like, now itís too much.  I love her show and I love her.  Sheís hysterical.  But you know Ė we get it.  Youíre a racist, weird, totally inappropriate character.  Okay, now what are you going to be inappropriate about?  We hit AIDS.  We hit race.  We hit sex.  We hit gays.  We hit this.  We hit Chinese.  We hit blacks.  I was like, what now?  Thatís what I donít want.  So, itís not that Iím afraid that people are going to think I went too far.  Iím more aware of people becoming bored of that.  You understand what Iím saying?  So thatís why my next movie, itís not going to even have that.  Itís going to always be the element ofÖ I like the element of surprise.  When you donít know whatís coming.  Itís funny because you donít know whatís going on.

Youíve played a big part in two long-running TV sitcoms.  How is television work different from movie work? 

Well, first of all, I really hit pay dirt with TV.  Great.  Iíve bought houses and property and paid for private school for my kids.  Set my kidsí futures up, financially and really great things.  And itís a lot less time.  But, itís a lot of times not as creative unless you are doing a cable show.  Then youíre not getting as much money.  Iím about to do another one, by the way.  Iím creating another show.  Weíre signing the papers this week.  Theyíve already given me the offer and weíre going back and forth.  So just look for that Ė probably on VH1, unless something goes terribly south.  Theyíre chomping at the bit for me to get going on that.  Then movies, at least for me, because Iím not starring in Rendition withÖ whatís her name?

Reese Witherspoon. 

Reese Witherspoon.  And Iím not inÖ actually, I am in Knocked Up.  But Iím not starring in any of these.  Nobody is giving me the opportunity toÖ except I was one of the leads in Employee of the Month.  Being in Employee of the Month is like being in the movie version of a TV show.  Itís very soft.  Itís not a lot of money, because Iím not a big, giant movie star.  Iím really more of a TV star on my close way up there.  Doing movies is more like doing art.  Itís very, very, very, very fulfilling.  But it doesnít fill my wallet.  Thatís probably obvious.  But Iím telling you, itís fun and itís great, because Iím in control.  I paid for this movie with my own money.  I made this movie with my own money Ė and I have already made all my money back.  Lions Gate and I have this great deal.  Iím part of the Lions Gate family.  Hopefully, this next movie Iím about to do, they take it on.  Then they put some of their money in this time.  But I donít even know if I want to go that route, because then all the sudden Iíve got Lions Gate or whoever calling going, ďHey, can you change this?Ē  Or ďCan you get Reese Witherspoon for that part?Ē  What if I donít want her?  I like the whole [John] Cassavetes vibe.  I donít know who got the money for his movies, but he did it his way.  I like that.  My movies, I hope, are in the end Ė ten years from now, when I have five or ten movies as a box set and they are all mine, I own them all and you can buy them as a box set Ė people will compare them to Cassavetes.  I hope so, because they really are like that.  Not purposely, just because when you donít have a lot of money, they are going to be rough around the edges Ė like a Cassavetes film.  Thatís how they are going to be.  If I could re-do the movie, I would love it to look better and have dolly shots and be shot on film.  All that stuff.  But the content, for what it is, Iím so proud of it.  I love it. 

Speaking of DVD box sets, The Andy Dick Show on MTV had a real cult followingÖ 

I know.  The reason whyÖ I know what youíre going to say.  Why isnít it out on DVD?  Itís so disappointing to me, because not a lot ofÖ there are people turning eighteen every day and they would love that show.  I want to get them out there because they were really fun and I think people should see them.  They would really have a good time watching them.  They canít because Ė and thereís a big lawsuit going on, I heard, with Viacom Ė they canít because of the music.  There was this deal that we could use any music.  Any music Ė as long as it was literally 37 seconds or less.  I was like a kid in a candy store.  Really?  I can use that song?  This song?  And nobody pays?  Well, it caught up to them now, because now when we want to do the box set or we want to put them on DVD Ė now you have to pay.  It would cost millions in music rights.  Or weíd have to go back and take all the music out.  That would be virtually impossible.  That would cost millions to do that.  And maybeÖ probablyÖ be impossible to do, because there are no raw files anymore.  So weíre kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place with that.  People are just going to have to find it. 

You first really appeared on most peopleís radar with NewsRadio.  How did you get that role and what was it like to be a part of? 

Well, I had done The Ben Stiller Show prior, and [series creator] Paul Simms was a fan of the show Ė which won an Emmy for writing.  I used to see Paul Simms around.  I also was performing a lot live at the time Ė which, incidentally, I just started to do again just within the last few months.

No kidding.  Thatís great. 

My son, who is nineteen, has gone back to my old stomping ground, which is the Improv Olympics right on Hollywood Boulevard Ė called IO West.  I was at the IO East in Chicago.  Thatís where I trained, right alongside with Mike Myers and Chris Farley.  Now heís doing it and he comes home so jazzed up every night, like ďI just did a show and I did thisÖĒ and Iím like, whoa, wow.  I see myself.  The spark in his eyes is so contagious.  I want to go.  I want to come with you this time.  I started coming and watching.  (laughs)  And then he put me up to the challenge.  Iím like, yeah, you know, I used to do that twenty years ago for ten years straight.  Every night.  Heís like, ďYeah, right.Ē  No, I really did.  I used to perform with that guy there.  Dave Koechner is up onstage.  I said, yeah, Dave Koechner and I used to perform.  ďOh yeah, like you could go up there and keep up with them Ė improvising onstage with Koechner.Ē  Iím like, yes I could.  He was so doubtful that I started doubting myself.  (laughs again)  Maybe heís right.  Maybe I lost it.  I realized Ė I started seeing that I was scared.  To prove it Ė not only to him but to prove it to myself Ė I started going back.  I started performing live.  Itís been frightening.  He and I went skydiving a few months ago.  Going onstage in the last few months has been more scary than jumping out of a plane Ė and Iím not exaggerating.  Iíve been petrified, but Iíve been doing it anyway.  Iíve been going every week.  I do feel like a newbie.  Brand new.  But the positive is that itís also exciting!  Itís exciting.  And itís very hard for me at my age Ė 41 Ė to find anything that turns me on or is exciting.  So I really am happy that my son has moved in with me and just gotten me going.  Iím loving life again. 

In recent years it seems that people talk as much about your personal life as your work.  Does this get frustrating to you? 

More so.  More so.  I think that they have ignored my work.  I think there are people out there that donít even know I have work that exists.  Like I said, there are people that are just coming intoÖ theyíre turning fifteen and eighteen and whatever.  [They hear the name] Andy Dick.  ďOh, that weirdo?Ē  They donít even know that Iíve had this twenty year long span of a career.  Award-winning career.  Shows Iím on have won awards.  Iíve won some awards.  Not to toot my own horn Ė but somebody has to.  Because all theyíre doing is putting all the crap [out there].  Yeah, thereís been some bad times.  But this one here, Iím not dead yet.  Iím not dead.  In fact Iím alive and kicking and I really do feel like a new baby just popping out for the first time, all wet and bloody and ready to go.  (laughs)  Itís been very disillusioning, disheartening and disappointing to have people talk about my personal life and completely ignore my professional life.  I donít like that.  That is why in the last couple of years I took myself out of the whole game and went into a semiÖ a slight early retirement, which was not very fulfilling Ė and depleting financially.  (laughs again)  I need to make money.  So now, I have a new career move that is very calculated on my part.  Hopefully it turns things around.

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Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: October 29, 2007.

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Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: October 29, 2007.