Artie Lange’s Big Crack-Up

Following a Brutal Knife Attack (Self-Inflicted) and a Stint in a Mental Hospital, the Veteran Funnyman Stages Yet Another Comeback

One day, Mr. Lange was invited by his new friend to join him in a reading of the Koran, which he promised would save the comedian’s life. He asked Mr. Lange to place his right hand on the holy book and to close his eyes. “We pray on the Koran for 30 seconds, and then he goes, ‘Thank you, Jimmy. I’ll see you in heaven,’” he remembered. “At least I got that going for me.”

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Nick DiPaolo and Artie Lange at a celebrity fantasy football draft in July (photo courtesy of Getty Images)

His lowest moment, he said, was sitting inside a common area in another psych ward, watching television, when his Comedy Central stand-up special Jack and Coke came on the air. He excused himself to his bedroom and locked himself inside.

“I sat in my dark room, and I listened to 20 lunatics laughing at my jokes,” he remembered. “That symbolized what I was going through.”

Mr. Lange rejoined society just about the same time Mr. DiPaolo was putting together plans to launch his own radio show. A few months later, Mr. Lange was back on the air. And for the first time in his life, the show was named for him.

Such is the luck of Artie Lange: He can flame out on drugs, burn bridges with the biggest names in entertainment, try to kill himself twice (not exactly a comedic move) and find his way back into the spotlight. Hell, he can make a guest appearance on Joe Buck’s now-defunct HBO talk show, liven up—or sabotage—the show by suggesting his host’s favorite website is “suckingdick.com,” then get Mr. Buck to write the foreword to Mr. Lange’s upcoming book, Crash and Burn.

“A lot of people don’t get that second shot,” said Mr. DiPaolo. “But he was so popular on Howard, and he is the working-class stiff, and they love him.”

Which is not to say that Mr. Lange is entirely reformed. He spent his summer break on a trip to Paris with his 28-year-old girlfriend. At one point, an argument between them got heated. Mr. Lange said he called his girlfriend a “effing c.,” took a swing at the cops who were called over to calm him down, and found himself in a Parisian prison cell.

“There was a crazy guy in my cell and he was in my face, [saying] ‘blue fromage,’” said Mr. Lange.

“I said to the French guard, ‘I think this guy belongs in a psych ward,’ and the guard goes, ‘Monsieur, you are in the psych ward.’” He and his girlfriend are no longer dating.