Artie Lange suicide attempt confirmed by police
Comedian Artie Lange, who was hospitalized over the weekend, did indeed attempt suicide by stabbing himself, police confirmed to the Jersey Journal on Thursday.
Howard Stern lifted his self-imposed ban on discussing his sidekick's suicide attempt, saying Thursday on his broadcast that when he heard the news, it was "too much to bear."
"I was surprised and glad that Artie's situation had been kept quiet.... I'm angry about it, I'm sad about it. I don't know what to think," Stern said. "I'm all over the place emotionally."
Lange is out of the hospital; an attendant in the lobby of the comic's apartment said he saw him heading out from home on an errand Thursday. Neighbors' reaction to the news was mixed, as were the comments on our Thursday post (Ministry comments -- not that it's a scientific measure in any way -- leaned toward tough-but-sympathetic, with a few that were critical; some of the nastiest couldn't be published because we don't do profanity).
[For the record, 11:32 a.m., Jan. 9: Earlier versions of this post had incorrect time elements regarding when Howard spoke about Artie. The comments were made on Stern's Thursday broadcast; Stern's website includes Howard talking about Artie in its Friday show "best of" roundup.]
The Ministry is of the mind that comedy comes from pain. Lange seemed to echo the idea that comics aren't perfect people -- by far -- in an interview he gave to the New York Post in early December, published online today. He invoked the names of Richard Pryor and Sam Kinison, in addition to Chris Rock, Norm Macdonald, Jerry Seinfeld and Dane Cook.
"I think every great comic I know who’s truly funny thinks they suck, thinks the audience sucks and if the audience likes [it] -- it’s like Woody Allen told the old Groucho Marx joke at the beginning of 'Annie Hall.' He goes, 'I would never want to belong to any club that would have me as a member,'" Lange said to the Post's Mandy Stadtmiller (before telling her that she "should be a shrink"). "Every big comedian I know thinks they suck and if a crowd accepts them and thinks they’re funny then the crowd must suck too."
If you're a fan of Artie or of stand-up in general, it's an interesting, nearly unedited interview, with a full transcript in addition to the audio. A little less than halfway in, he briefly addresses one theme that's been popping up in comments -- the notion of how can a person be miserable when he's making lots of money and doing his dream job.
He also discusses his problems, which started when he was 18:
I started doing drugs and gambling and I did, in a way I said: "I’m going to dig a hole in life for me, and if I get out of it then fine and if I don’t whatever."
Googling me, you talk about being depressed. First of all there’s 18 websites that predict my early death.
Lange was found unconscious but breathing by his mother Jan. 2; she called 911 at 9:28 a.m. EST and paramedics arrived 10 minutes later. The hospital has been identified as Jersey City Medical Center.
-- Christie D'Zurilla
Photos: From top, Artie Lange on April 27, 2006, in New York; with Norm Macdonald in the 1998 Bob Saget-directed film "Dirty Work." Credits: Stuart Ramson / Associated Press, top; Jack Rowand / MGM Pictures
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