Photo: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013
You were once the world’s biggest comic, but a few years ago you were in financial trouble, right?
Yeah, it was crazy. I went to Vegas with about $50,000 and took it to about a million dollars playing blackjack. I paid some bills, I bought some cars. Me and my wife had Vegas at our fingertips. You wanna talk about a movie like The Hangover? We lived it.
A million dollars is a lot of cash to be carrying around Vegas.
Picture this: We’re driving back to L.A. with the money in the car. About two hours into the desert, I get stopped for speeding. I told my wife, if these cops tell me to get out of the car, I’m hitting the gas pedal. There was no way these guys would let us walk away with that money if they saw it. But they come back with my license and go, “Are you Dice?” And it becomes a lovefest, thank God.
And then you got Entourage.
It was like John Travolta with Pulp Fiction. I thought it was going to be a tiny role, so I was surprised by the size of it. Doug Ellin, the producer, goes, “I’m putting you in this season and wait till you see what happens.” And he was right. Without Entourage, there’s no Woody Allen.
So how did you end up starring in Woody Allen’s movie Blue Jasmine?
Simple. I get a call from my manager saying Woody has a part he thinks I’d be great for. I walk in, talk to the guy for five minutes, and the next thing I know I’m filming. The coolest fucking guy. We talked about Brooklyn, Brighton Beach. I’d never met him before and never thought I’d work with him. Then we’re hanging out on set, talking comedy.
Is it true you beat out Louis CK for your role?
Yeah, but he’s still in the movie, and we’re friends. You know, we were in the Carnegie Deli in New York talking about success and how hard it is to walk around in the street. And I say, “Louie, why don’t you start with a hat? And don’t get a hat you like. Get a hat you wouldn’t wear.”
Do fans bug you a lot?
They circle, and some overstep your boundaries. I mean, I was outside a restaurant a few weeks ago with my wife, and she’s a lot younger than me and was dressed really hot. This guy comes over and asks for a light, looks at my wife, and tells her she looks hot. I just go, “Walk away.” That’s when the gloves come off. You don’t disrespect my lady or my kids.
What advice do you give your two sons about showbiz?
I tell them to stay away from drugs and alcohol. Have all the girls you want, but hardcore drugs are going to wreck anyone’s life. When I was coming up, I saw a lot of death
Like Sam Kinison. You guys were rivals, right?
Our rivalry was his rivalry. We were both what you’d call rock comics, and he had that market to himself before my career blew through the roof. He couldn’t handle it. One time when he was all coked up, he came looking for me, and we almost had a fight. I said, “You know if you pick your hands up to me, I’m gonna have to hurt you real bad.” I know what it feels like to have my face split open, but most comics are not tough.
Who were the comics you looked up to when you were younger?
I wasn’t into comics. I was more into rock stars and movie stars. When I saw comics, I thought, These guys don’t understand performance. And that’s why I always saw myself as the biggest comic in the world, because I was giving people something they never saw before.
But you caused a lot of controversy. Are any subjects that taboo?
I don’t like making fun of real disasters, where people get killed and stuff. But when it comes to sex, I’ll say anything.
Still do the old Mother Goose jokes?
I got no problem doing the classic stuff. Comics don’t understand: Whatever piece it was that made you famous, give it to the fans. But I’m not just living in the past. I keep adding material. I keep reinventing myself.
You still wear the leather jackets, though. How many do you have?
Oh, hundreds. I’ve got a closet here with probably 200 of them, and they range from motorcycle vests to showy jackets, like Elvis and Liberace. I want to give the people something special to look at.
Check out Maxim Etiquette With Gilbert Gottfried: Episode 3and our interview with Scott Adsit.
The comedy legend talks Vegas, leather, and starring in Woody Allen’s new movie. Oh!