An imagined behind-the-scenes conversation concerning the new Showtime series Dice.
INT. SHOWTIME OFFICES. DAY.
DICE CREATOR SCOT ARMSTRONG: Hi, thanks for meeting with me today. I’m sure you’re both very busy, so I’ll cut right to the chase with you and keep this short. Are you familiar with a little television program called Curb Your Enthusiasm?
SHOWTIME EXECUTIVE 1: Of course, it was a huge success for HBO.
ARMSTRONG: Okay, well, how would Showtime like to have its very own Curb Your Enthusiasm?
SHOWTIME EXECUTIVE 2: Hot damn! I’m sold.
ARMSTRONG: …with Andrew Dice Clay.
EXEC 1: We sh— wait, what? Andrew Dice Clay?
EXEC 2: Like, from the ’90s?
ARMSTRONG: Actually, he was on Vinyl pretty recently. And Entourage. You guys like Entourage? But bear with me! It’d be just like Curb. He’d be playing a lightly fictionalized version of himself, right? And he has the hot younger wife — we got Natasha Leggero, she’s just dynamite — and the Jeff Garlin-type best friend is played by character actor Kevin Corrigan, who kills it too. He gets in comic misadventures and has run-ins with other celebrities portraying themselves, it’s a great time.
EXEC 2: I dunno. Didn’t he get in trouble with the women’s groups for saying all that gross, sexually explicit stuff a little while back?
EXEC 1: Scot, you know I practically faint with excitement every time I hear a pitch even slightly similar to Episodes, the crown jewel of this proud network, but signing Dice seems… dicey.
EXEC 2: Did you have that ready?
ARMSTRONG: I hear what you’re saying, and we’re completely aware of this. We know, and the show knows, exactly who it’s working with. Dice doesn’t try to tone down Dice’s fundamental Dice-ness, if you know what I’m saying.
EXEC 2: I do not.
ARMSTRONG: It’s like, most of the episodes are, in one way or another, about what a tremendous piece of sh*t Andrew Dice Clay is. He’s strapped for cash, treats his girlfriend and pals like garbage, and flies into a rage at the drop of a hat. On the off chance people in the show even recognize him, they usually treat him poorly or end up locked in a heated argument with him over something asinine. It’s edgy like that.
EXEC 1: That sounds pretty rough. And this self-loathing kind of vibe, could that sustain an entire series?
ARMSTRONG: Clearly, because we made six episodes.
EXEC 1: Fair enough. But this sounds pretty critical, which I like, but my question is how did Dice agree to this?
ARMSTRONG: It’s weird. You watch him, and there’s this look in his eyes, like he doesn’t quite know where he is. He says all the lines, actually gives a pretty enthused performance, but he always looks sorta lost. So, who’s to say? He took the job!
EXEC 1: Surely, you understand why we’d have our reservations.
ARMSTRONG: Dice is a big character. But big characters are what work on TV right now! Think of him as an antihero, but a comedic antihero.
EXEC 2: Is that how he’s portrayed in the show?
ARMSTRONG: Eh, not really. But it’s a good way to think about him! In the show, he’s mostly a combination of the usual beleaguered-husband type and…
EXEC 1: Well, what about money? What are the numbers here, what was your budget like?
ARMSTRONG: Oh, we shot this thing for, like, $12. [quietly] Or at least it looks that way.
EXEC 1: I’m sorry, what was that?
ARMSTRONG: What was what?
EXEC 1: What?
ARMSTRONG: Look, I’m gonna give it to you on the straight and narrow. It’s not Seinfeld. And it’s not Curb. But it never could be, not with Dice in the lead. And why would we want it to? It’s not perfect, but as God is my witness, there are surreal flashes of deranged brilliance here. We shot this one episode, Academy Award-winner Adrien Brody appears as himself, researching the Diceman for a one-act play about masculinity he’s developing. Do you know how it feels, to bear witness to Adrien Brody and Andrew Dice Clay essentially re-enacting the mirrored-movement scene from Duck Soup? The test audience said they couldn’t recommend the show to their friends in good faith — but — that they nearly wept with laughter at that episode. Criss Angel curses the Diceman. Dice officiates a gay wedding. Dice and a cop end up kidnapping his kid’s snooty British band manager. Dice goes on a hunt for a missing plaster-mold of his erect phallus. I don’t mean to oversell myself, but the fact that this exists at all is something of a wonder.
EXEC 1: Well, you’ve certainly given us quite a bit to think about.
EXEC 2: Why would someone make a mold of Andrew Dice Clay’s penis?
ARMSTRONG: Only one way for you to find out. [folds arms across chest, as EXECS 1 and 2 whisper conspiratorially]
EXEC 1: We’re in. One thing — Dice doesn’t say anything, like, traumatizingly disgusting, does he?
ARMSTRONG: Does he! He does. Do you want me to spoil it for you? Ah, you’ll be fine. Adrien Brody, as James Lipton-esque research for his part, asks Dice what his favorite sound in the world is. And he says “the squish,” which he explains as—
EXEC 2: Nope, that’s fine, that’s enough, we’re in. We’re sold. You’re good. You may leave our offices.
Dice premieres Sunday, April 10 at 9:30 p.m. ET. The first episode can be watched for free right now.