Updated December 23, 2017 at 8:09 AM;
Posted December 23, 2017 at 8:00 AM
Artie Lange through the years
Gallery: Artie Lange through the years
By Amy Kuperinsky
Addiction and relapse are not new themes for Artie Lange or anyone who has followed his career over the last 25 years. Realities of his life, a recurring cycle of drug use, rehab and relapse are also punchlines in his act.
Yet this year alone, Lange, 50, has been arrested three times, twice for drug possession and once for missing a court date (which was the second time he missed one this year).
Friends and fans of the Jersey comedian have taken notice. After he posted a photo of himself this month in which his nose appeared badly swollen, concerned parties called police, who showed up at Lange’s Hoboken doorstep.
Artie Lange poses for his mugshot in Newark after being arrested on Dec. 12 for failing to appear in court following a May arrest. Essex County Sheriff | Getty Images
The comedian, a Livingston native who hails from Union Township and is perhaps best known for his eight-year stint on “The Howard Stern Show,” had already grabbed headlines in March, when he was arrested at his Hoboken parking garage for possession of heroin, cocaine and drug paraphernalia after police said they found the substances in his car.
All of this sits atop Lange’s turbulent past, which includes battles with drug addiction and depression, many relapses and two suicide attempts — one in 1995, when he was a cast member on the Fox sketch series “Mad TV,” and another in 2010, after he parted ways with Stern.
“I wish I could tell u how my story ends,” Lange tweeted after his March arrest.
“I swear this life is so crazy,” he tweeted. “I wish that scared me. Pls don’t be me younger ppl. I care for u deeply!”
Lange had just made his debut in the first season of the HBO series “Crashing,” playing a recurring character on the series, which is fronted by comedian Pete Holmes and returns with Lange in tow on Jan. 14. Lange’s addiction lore heavily informs his character — Artie Lange.
For instance, Lange trotted out a sentiment for the show that fans would recognize from his act:
“I’m the only guy who got fat on cocaine.”
Lange revisited the riff at a comedy show just a week after his arrest at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, where he touched upon his risky lifestyle.
“I’m in every f***ing death pool,” he said. “Every time I f***ing have a birthday, so much money changes hands on the internet.”
The same “will he make it?” aesthetic covers Lange’s next memoir, “Wanna Bet? A Degenerate Gambler’s Guide to Living on the Edge,” due out in July, a follow-up to his 2008 memoir “Too Fat to Fish” and his 2013 book “Crash and Burn.”
On Monday, Lange addressed the swollen-nose photo and his recent arrest by calling into “The Artie and Anthony Show,” Lange’s subscription streaming radio show with Anthony Cumia, formerly of “Opie and Anthony.”
.@CrashingHBO starring @PeteHolmes, returns January 14. (I’m in it too!)
Catch up by streaming Season 1 on @HBO. pic.twitter.com/1Hs7yA4k8a
— Artie Lange (@artiequitter) December 13, 2017
“I annoyed somebody so I got punched in the face,” Lange told Cumia, who said the comedian was in treatment.
“It kind of blew up on me and Twitter can be a little outreaching,” Lange said of the response to the photo.
After Lange tweeted the photo, Hoboken police showed up at the door of his home. Days later, police arrested Lange after he failed to show up for court to answer charges from a May arrest. (“I was not aware that I had to, but that’s not an excuse,” he told Cumia).
“They came in, I gave them macaroni. They put handcuffs on me and took all my garlic knots,” he mused.
“I was in jail for a while and they treated me great,” he said of a brief stay in Essex County Jail.
Lange, at left, with Pete Holmes, star of ‘Crashing,’ and executive producer Judd Apatow in February 2017. Though Lange worried that he had been fired from the show after his arrest, Apatow stood by the comedian.
As with the March arrest, Lange’s May arrest in Bloomfield allegedly involved drug possession. State Police said they found the comedian with a bag of heroin on his lap after he was stopped for driving eratically near a McDonald’s on the Garden State Parkway. Lange pleaded guilty to possession of 81 decks of heroin and police dropped earlier cocaine possesssion charges. He is expected to be sentenced in February.
Lange also attributes his falling out with Howard Stern to drug addiction.
“It was nothing but my fault,” Lange told NJ Advance Media before his March arrest. “Howard tried to help me.”
Lange was arrested in Hoboken in March shortly after learning he would be getting a more substantial role in “Crashing,” he said, calling the move “self-destructive.” He went on to claim he had been axed from the show (and the forthcoming second season) altogether because of his arrest and drug problem.
Executive producer Judd Apatow disputed Lange’s claim.
“We would never give up on Artie or anyone struggling with addiction,” Apatow tweeted.
But drugs aren’t the only problems Lange faces; in October, Lange, who has diabetes, had to skip a show in Akron, Ohio after a doctor advised him against traveling with high blood sugar. In a video, he addressed fans, saying he would call each person who bought a ticket to the show to see how he could make it up to them. At the same time, he thanked fans for helping him make it to his 50th birthday, and recognized that given his history, many would assume he had just been using heroin.
“I could tell you that my whole family died and I had to go to the wake. You’re gonna say, ‘No, Art, you were on heroin,'” he said.
On Twitter and even on his own radio show, many have speculated about what the future could hold for Lange.
Rich Vos, a fellow Jersey comedian who grew up in Plainfield, served as a guest host on “Artie and Anthony” in Lange’s absence. He said he thinks this time in rehab might be the charm for Lange. “I think he’s gonna get clean,” he said. (Vos once fought his own battles with addiction.) But he offered another possiblity, too:
“Listen, maybe Artie just hasn’t hit his bottom.”
“Maybe,” Cumia replied. ” … That’s a helluva bottom.”
Crashing: Guest Star Fan Club: Artie Lange (HBO)