Back in January, we did a bad reputation retrospective on Chevy Chase. Chevy’s transgressions, while numerous and remorseless, generally fall into the category of “if he weren’t famous, he’d get his a– kicked”. The alleged crimes of our next case study in celebrity misbehavior could possibly be summarized as, “If Andy Dick weren’t famous, he’d have been to jail a whole bunch of times.”

Andy Dick’s story is one of a talented but troubled comedian for whom the last 25 years have been filled with nothing but sharp left turns into the darkness and depravity of a life – and career – often derailed by addiction. Honestly, we should have worn gloves when typing this one, and we won't begrudge you a long shower after you’re done reading it.

Wikimedia Commons / David Shankbone

This picture is not allowed within 100 feet of Jon Lovitz

The man for whom Dick is a name and too-often descriptor started his career in comedy when he joined The Second City in 1985 as a teenager fresh out of high school. Although the most important theater in humor has seemingly since scrubbed his name from its prestigious alumni list, Andy Dick spent the mid-to-late ‘80s developing his skills as an improviser and a stand up in a red-hot Chicago comedy scene.

Andy moved to Los Angeles in 1988 with high aspirations, but first big break wouldn’t come until 1992 when he joined the cast of MTV’s spectacularly short-lived sketch comedy program The Ben Stiller Show, co-created by Stiller with Judd Apatow and Jeff Kahn. Even though the program snagged an Emmy with a star-studded cast that included the likes of Bob Odenkirk and Janeane Garofalo, The Ben Stiller Show made it just 13 episodes before cancellation.

Despite the demise of The Ben Stiller Show, Dick’s foot was firmly in the Hollywood door. He starred in three different films in 1994, including Reality Bites, another Ben Stiller project. Andy also enjoyed success on the small screen with appearances on The Late Show With David Letterman, The Nanny, and the rebooted Get Smart before landing a regular role on the underrated NBC Sitcom NewsRadio in 1995.

As Andy’s star rose in Hollywood, so seemingly grew his notorious appetite for anything intoxicating. Andy had an old friend from his Chicago days who tried to set him on the straight-and-narrow, but neither Andy nor his AA sponsor Chris Farley would manage to escape the harrowing clutches of addiction.

In December 1997, two events occurred that drastically altered the course of both Andy’s life and the future of comedy itself. At the time, NewsRadio was in its fourth season, and Andy’s sobriety was a distant memory. 

On December 18th, 1997, hilarity titan Chris Farley died of an overdose in his Chicago apartment, sending shockwaves through the comedy world. 

While the exact date is unclear, we know that very shortly before or after the death of his sponsor, Andy attended a Christmas party at the house of his friend and NewsRadio co-star Phil Hartman.

Phil Hartman’s wife Brynn was a recovering addict who, at the time, was ten years sober. According to Jon Lovitz, Brynn relapsed the night of that Christmas party – with cocaine supplied by Andy Dick. Five months later, Brynn, high on cocaine, murdered her husband Phil before ending her own life.

Jon Lovitz replaced Phil Hartman on NewsRadio, but the show wouldn’t last long following his loss – NBC ended the sitcom after the finale of the following season. Allegedly, during a taping of one of the final episodes of the show, Andy Dick told Lovitz, “you shouldn’t be here”, to which Lovitz replied, “Well, I wouldn't be here if you hadn't given Brynn coke in the first place.”

These cataclysmic deaths started a steep downward spiral for Andy Dick, and his behavior worsened to the point where he was known more in the press for his inebriation than his comedy. 

Less than a year after Hartman’s death, Andy Dick and his friend and fellow actor David Strickland flew from Los Angeles to Las Vegas with the intention of spending three straight days partying in various strip clubs. On the morning of March 22nd, 1999, an intoxicated Strickland hung himself from the ceiling beam of his motel room.

A couple months later, Andy made the first entry in what would prove to be a rap sheet even more substantial than his impressive list of credits (seriously, the “Legal Issues and Controversies” section of his Wikipedia page is almost longer than the rest of the page combined). On May 15, 1999, Andy crashed his car into a utility pole, which led to his arrest and conviction on felony cocaine possession and two cannabis-related misdemeanors, though the judge would later dismiss those charges after Dick completed a 18-month drug diversion program.

This face screams “I'm just getting started.”

Andy somehow managed to stay out of trouble long enough to create and star in The Andy Dick Show, which ran for three seasons from 2001 to 2002 on MTV. The program featured mockumentary-style sketch comedy with a topical lens as it skewered early-aughts pop culture, especially its pop stars.

For a brief moment in time, it seemed as if Andy Dick had righted the ship. Having his own show allowed him to focus on his talent instead of his vices. But that was before he started to get – erm, grabby.

Andy was arrested in 2004 for indecent exposure after mooning the patrons of a McDonalds. While this seems like a pretty innocuous prank in a vacuum, it marked the beginning of a pattern of lascivious behavior that would have required most of us non-celebrities to go door to door introducing ourselves whenever we moved to a new neighborhood.

In 2005, Andy Dick was invited to perform at the Comedy Central Roast of Pamela Anderson. Without warning, Andy moved behind the Baywatch star and grabbed her breasts while making lame plastic surgery jokes. He also tried to grope Courtney Love – who slapped him in retaliation – before attempting to mime oral sex on Pam’s then-husband Tommy Lee.

While shocking at the time, Andy Dick’s behavior towards Pamela Anderson was somehow just the first of his on-air gropings. Two years later, Andy would have to be removed from his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! after repeatedly grabbing the bare leg of future first daughter Ivanka Trump.

It was around this time in 2007 that Andy had another run in with his former co-star Jon Lovitz. Jon held Andy responsible for kicking Brynn Hartman off the wagon a full ten years prior, a sentiment of which Andy was well aware. When Andy saw Jon at a restaurant in Los Angeles, he allegedly approached his former friend and told him, "I put the Phil Hartman hex on you—you're the next to die."

On July 10th later that year, Jon Lovitz confronted Andy at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles and smashed Andy's head against the bar several times before a doorman pulled them apart.

Andy Dick’s behavior and reputation would only worsen in the years following the famous fight – In 2008, Andy was arrested for drug possession and sexual battery after drunkenly pulling down the shirt and bra of a 17 year old girl outside a Buffalo Wild Wings. He pleaded down to misdemeanor charges and was sentenced to three years’ probation.

In 2010, Andy was arrested on sexual abuse charges for allegedly groping two people at a bar in Huntington, Virginia after one of his standup shows. The Andy Dick Legal Team once again worked their magic, and the charges were dismissed after Andy completed a six-month pre-trial diversion program. The two alleged victims involved in the incident filed civil suits two years later.

2011 would be a busy year for Andy Dick’s awfulness, the highlights of which included groping and stalking performers at the AVN Awards, drunkenly exposing himself and urinating on – then destroying – a backdrop at the Newport Film Festival, and launching an ugly, anti-semetic tirade against Howard Stern.

And that’s just the stuff that got reported. While Andy Dick would have relatively fewer – but certainly not zero – sexual battery charges in the later 2010’s, he was notorious around the Los Angeles bar and club scene. 

The legendary Upright Citizens’ Brigade group ASSSSCAT used to begin their LA shows by asking the audience two questions – they would first ask those in attendance to raise a hand if they had ever ridden an elephant. Then they would ask the audience to raise their hand if they had received unwanted sexual advances from Andy Dick. The latter group was always the larger of the two.

Andy’s troubles have shown no signs of slowing down in recent years. In 2017, he was fired from a movie for allegedly grabbing, groping, and licking pretty much the entire cast and crew. Just in the past thirteen months, Andy has been arrested for felony assault with a deadly weapon and felony sexual battery, though the second charge was dropped after the accuser refused to cooperate with the police. 

After all that Andy has done, allegedly and otherwise, it sure seems like some sort of amoral miracle that he’s never served a prison sentence. 

Andy has made dozens of ill-fated attempts at going sober to the point where, according to him, “I was crawling around on the floor to find the phone, not able to dial because both my hands were shaking. When I would get ahold of one of the recovery centers, they would hang up when they found out it was me. No one wanted to help me because I was unhelpable. Why would they bring me in just to have me die in their bed?"

For all of Andy Dick’s many flaws, lacking self-awareness is not one of them. As Andy said himself, "People think I'm just a f*ck up who never tried. I deserve it. I really do. That's the sad part. Whatever comes my way, in terms of public humiliation, I brought it upon myself… I'll never overturn people's negative expectations of me in my whole lifetime.” Somehow, despite Andy's absurd list of offenses, there are still many comedians who defend Andysober Andy, that is – and speak his praises as a person and a comic.

Chevy Chase’s anthology of a–hole behavior is frustrating because of his stubborn refusal to ever admit fault. Andy Dick’s story is tragic not because he can’t admit his mistakes – he’s got plenty of experience pleading guilty – but because he still hasn’t shown the capacity to learn from them after two and a half decades of debased, despicable, and destructive behavior.

Addiction is a vicious, insidious disease, and Andy Dick has spent the majority of his life struggling – and failing – to fight that monster. But recognizing his affliction is not the same as absolving him of his behavior, and it’s unfair to the rest of the entertainment industry (as well as the entire city of Los Angeles) for Andy to treat them as collateral damage in his battle against his demons.

Maybe one of Andy’s attempts at sobriety will finally stick. Maybe he’ll make amends with the people he’s wronged – the ones who are still alive, that is. But if the past is prologue then don’t hold your breath. 

Top Image: Wikimedia Commons / John Mathew Smith

For exclusive ComedyNerd content, subscribe to our spiffy newsletter:

Get More Comedy: Sign up for ComedyNerd

The ComedyNerd newsletter is your weekly look at the world of stand up, sketch, and more. Sign up now!

Tags

Forgot Password?