Joe Buck is 46 years old today. We could celebrate by looking at some of the more memorable games he’s called (like Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, when he echoed his father’s famous line, “we will see you tomorrow night”). However, it would be a lot more fun to review the most infamous moment of his career — the time Artie Lange absolutely destroyed him during the pilot episode of Joe Buck Live on HBO.
Joe Buck Live was supposed to paint Buck in a new light. Instead of being the stodgy play-by-play guy, we were supposed to view him as “One Of The Guys,” just bro-ing down and talking about sports with his pals. To do this, Buck brought in a comedy all-star team of Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, and Artie Lange for the pilot. The first two pretty much did their jobs, chatting casually about sports and cracking jokes, but Lange was about to sabotage the whole thing.
When Buck asks Rudd a question about handling paparazzi, he casually mentions that TMZ is his favorite website. Lange quickly jumps on this, asking Buck, “What’s your second favorite website? Suckingc***.com?” Rudd and Sudeikis laugh hysterically at this line, with Sudeikis yelling “Give it up! Give it up!” Meanwhile, Buck just sits there with a stilted grin on his face. You can tell he’s flustered.
Lange then discusses his immense hatred of the Dallas Cowboys, especially Tony Romo. He jokes that as a “well-known homophobic,” it’s a “white trash dream” that the Cowboys have a quarterback who’s last name rhymes with homo. He then notes that he’s “dating a fat chick,” referring to Romo’s relationship with Jessica Simpson. At the time she was being eviscerated in the tabloids for gaining weight.
On the surface, it’s hard to defend some of the things Lange says here. A lot of it is blatantly sexist and homophobic, without much room for interpretation. But what makes the whole experience so much fun is that Lange’s goal doesn’t seem to be taking down homosexuals or women; it feels like he just wants to make Joe Buck as uncomfortable as possible. And he succeeds. If the goal of Joe Buck Live was to make Buck seemed more relaxed and approachable, Lange nixed that idea in about five minutes.
Lange dominates the entire conversation, while Rudd and Sudeikis seem all-too-happy to stay on the sidelines and let the carnage continue. Lange attempts to smoke a cigarette on stage, and is rebuffed by Buck. Later on, in a segment that only appeared on the internet, Sudeikis encourages Buck to let him smoke in the studio. Sudeikis and Rudd aren’t going to rip Buck to shreds the way Lange does, but they have no interest in protecting him, either.