best known for his work on the television show Mad TV
and, more recently, for his work on the Howard Stern Show
(as a pseudo-replacement for Jackie Martling
He was born and raised in Union, New Jersey
, and his father became paralyzed when he was 18. He was devastated. He tried going to college, but eventually dropped out. He flopped around a few jobs and wound up working as a longshoreman
in the Port of Newark. At 22, he decided to have a go at comedy
. He saved up six grand and told himself he would give it a year to make it as a stand-up
. The guys on the dock wished him well but laughed. They told him he still had a job when he got back ("when" not "if").
After about four years of hard work on the comedy circuit, he landed the Mad TV
job. While he was successful at Mad TV and had begun to make a lot of money, he was very unhappy. It was hard work and he hated Los Angeles
. He got mixed up with drugs
and eventually got arrested for cocaine
possesion. His career at MAD TV was finished and things did not look well for Artie Lange's future.
Fortunately, Artie's mother and sister got him into rehab
in New Jersey. Soon after that, Norm Macdonald
(of Saturday Night Live
fame) called Artie for a part in his new movie, Dirty Work
. The night of his audition, he won $2,000 off of Mr. Macdonald playing pool
. Lange's agent wasn't very happy about that, but Artie ended up getting the part anyway. The film tanked, but at least he was working again, and, as it turns out, the film planted the seed for a future career move.
You see, Norm Macdonald went on the Howard Stern
show to promote Dirty Work
. Knowing that Artie was a huge fan, Norm asked him if he want to go. During the course of the interview, Norm and Howard called him in to talk about the movie. Stern was hesitant, but Norm edged him on, saying "Yeah, you'll like Artie, he got thrown off of "Mad TV" because of cocaine!" Of course that caught Howard's attention and the rest of the interview was spent on the details of Artie's story.
Artie followed Dirty Work with a series of small roles in other small, mostly unsuccessful films as well as playing Macdonald's sidekick
in the TV sitcom "The Norm Show". Then word came that Howard Stern's sidekick, Jackie "the Jokeman" Martling
, had quit because of money, and that the King of All Media
was going to be auditioning for Jackie's chair. They needed comics
, funny people who knew the show and would be willing to get up very, very early, take a lot of grief and eat their breakfast in front of strippers. Having remembered Artie from his appearance with Norm a few years back, Stern invited him to sit for Jackie for a couple of shows. After a while, Artie seemed to be gaining popularity and is now on the show regularly. His role isn't perfectly defined just yet, but he seems to have a certain Everyman
quality that comes across well to the audience. Its a dream job for him, and he can barely believe it.
Info gleaned from various interviews, the Howard Stern Show, and the ever-helpful IMDB