The countdown is on

SoBe Gets its Funny On

The second annual South Beach Comedy Festival landed on the beach with a bang this past weekend. Big headliners like Jon Stewart and Bill Maher performed at the Jackie Gleason Theatre, and solid B-listers like Roseanne and Jim Breur played to the smaller houses.

On Saturday night, Howard Stern Radio Show cast member Artie Lange performed at the Lincoln Theatre to an audience packed with hardcore Stern listeners. Lange's material was so familiar that crowd members anticipated much of it.

At one point, someone called for Lange's "pig story," which most of us had heard many, many times. For the uninitiated, it goes like this: Lange reached the rock bottom of self-loathing when, as a Mad TV cast member in the early 90s, he performed in a sketch called "Babewatch." It was a combo-spoof of Baywatch and Babe, and the rotund Lange, in full prosthetics, played a disgusting grown-up version of the once-lovable pig. He was so distraught that he arranged to meet his coke dealer in Malibu — in full costume, in between the rehearsal and taping. "What kind of crazy shit you into?" the dealer asked when the two met up. Lange had to burrow through his rubber snout to do a line.

A fan shouted "Don't leave Howard!" He was referring to Lange's new development deal with Fox, which may wind up with Lange starring in a sitcom. "I may have only two years to go on this liver," said Lange. "You think I want to spend it getting up at 4:30 in the morning every day?" He added a cryptic "We'll see." (Lange's longevity — or probable lack thereof -- is a major motif in the Stern community; cf. the Artie Lange Death Watch page.)

By 10 p.m. the Lincoln Road Mall swelled in the middle, around Euclid Avenue, where a free stage was set up to feature lesser known comics. It attracted a throng so thick pedestrians could barely pass through. Sidewalk diners were treated to free comedy, but as the walkers forced their way through the spectators, the eaters had to endure a whole lot of asses in their faces. -Frank Houston

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