Ever wondered what it might be like to be a celebrity assistant? The perks, the connections, the constant swirl of glamour? Sure, assistants always seem to be getting fired, or getting screamed at, or getting stuff thrown at them, or all of the above. But that would never happen to you, right? Given how courteous, professional, and competent you are. As long as you stay away from, say, Naomi Campbell or, say, a shock-jock radio host with a history of drug and alcohol problems, you should be fine, right?
Well, if you’d like an uncut peak into the nonstop orgy of giddy esteem-building that is the celebrity assistant’s world, you must listen to all three parts of Artie Lange’s mesmerizing meltdown on Howard Stern yesterday. We’ve never been big Stern listeners — that radio show seems to exist in some alternate pop-culture reality, along with other apparently hugely popular things we rarely encounter, such as Larry the Cable Guy — but we couldn’t tear ourselves away from this three-part, 26-minute aria.
It starts with Lange in relative good spirits (we assume — we only really know Lange as the cranky, unfunny guy from those Comedy Central roasts) griping about his assistant, Teddy, who has failed him in several minor ways, such as leaving photocopies of his passport in the garbage and referring to Bloomingdale's as "Bloomies," as well as in some major infractions, such as continually borrowing money. Lange, however, with the aid of some expert prodding from Stern, unravels into a howling, homophobic lunatic until Robin is screaming, “There were seven people who couldn’t hold Artie back!”
In the interim, assistant Teddy is screamed at, fired, and has stuff thrown at him.
It’s worth listening to the whole half-hour: It’s part fly-on-the-wall glimpse at a crazy dysfunctional-family brouhaha, and part cautionary tale for anyone who ever thought it might be fun to make a living by photocopying a semi-famous comedian’s passport. Also, it’s odd, even for a Stern neophyte, to hear Howard Stern as a calming voice of moral reason. Some people online are speculating the whole thing is a stunt, but if so, Lange is a way, way better actor than he is a comedian. —Adam Sternbergh