It’s easy to live a life of don’ts, as comedian Artie Lange has, and proclaim to have no regrets.
But looking back at his life, that’s not how Lange sees it. “I have lots of regrets,” he says with a laugh.
He has faced hardships in his professional and personal life, but he doesn’t shy away from it onstage, in interviews and or in his best-selling memoirs, including “Crash and Burn” (2013).
He’s been let go from “MADtv,” cut out of “Jerry Maguire” and dumped from “The Howard Stern Show.” He’s done stints in jail and rehab, the result of drug addiction. Attempting suicide in 2010, he stabbed himself in the gut, drank bleach and cut his wrists.
Lange has been to hell and back.
“One of my most serious regrets would be drugs,” he says. “I should have tackled my old self the first time I did heroin.”
These days things have turned around for Lange.
“I’m back to where I am happy and I am making money. My stand-up is doing well, and I’m living a dream.”
He’s on the road with a routine that focuses on real life, mining his own pain for laughs. He performs Friday and Saturday at the Funny Bone.
“A lot has happened since I came back from the stabbing,” Lange says.
He likens his descent to the time when comedian Richard Pryor set himself on fire. Pryor later rebounded with a comedy special, which Lange considers “the best hour of stand-up ever.”
Talking about his dark times onstage was initially difficult for Lange, but it got easier when he realized his experiences weren’t as unique as he’d thought.
“The hardest part is trying it out and it’s the first time you’re telling a story and they don’t laugh at it,” he says. “But someone has had the same thing happen to them.”
Lange’s recent work also includes his role on HBO’s new “Crashing.” The comedy series was created by and stars Pete Holmes.
On the show, Lange portrays a version of himself; its pilot was titled “Artie Lange.”
He says “Crashing” is an accurate look at comedians, but it’s different from “every other show about a stand-up comedian playing himself.”
The offer came after the stabbing incident. “Everyone said maybe I should quit show business,” he recalls.
In addition to “Crashing,” Lange just handed over the first draft of his third book and hosts “The Artie Quitter Podcast.”
“I have a loyal following,” he says of the podcast. “I never thought this would be my calling in life. I love it. It’s the first time I’m totally uncensored.”
What Artie Lange, Tim Convy • When 7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday • Where Funny Bone St. Louis, 614 West Port Plaza • How much $35 • More info stlouisfunnybone.com