Artie Lange, who closes the Hoboken Comedy Festival with two shows on Oct. 4, is one of the most well-known residents of Hoboken. A star of TV, film and radio for two decades, he’s spent more than half of the last 20 years in an apartment overlooking the Hudson River. And he does not plan to leave Hoboken any time soon.
Beyond the upcoming festival, Artie has plenty of things happening for him in town. Started up earlier this year, he records the subscription-based Artie Quitter podcast out of his home. From that very same residence, Artie has also been writing his third book with Anthony Bozza; their two previous collaborations were both New York Times best-sellers. And never say never on “Hojoken” becoming a reality; more on that concept is below.
Following my appearance on Artie Quitter alongside comics Dan Frigolette, Geno Bisconte, and Chris Cotton, and producer Dan Felato, I was able to ask a number of Hoboken-related questions to Artie. The man may have no intentions of enjoying the Hudson Bike Share program anytime soon, but he surely can tell you where to dine in-town.
I think Colin Quinn said on the Artie Quitter podcast last week that with Eli Manning leaving town, that you’re the most famous person in Hoboken.
Artie Lange: (laughs)
I think Joe Pantoliano still has a place here. But what is it that you drew you to Hoboken as a resident?
A: I first moved here in ’01, I lived in L.A. from ’95 to ’01. A couple of years on MADtv, a couple on The Norm Show, I had some development deals, doing stand-up, I had a couple of movies. When The Norm Show ended, I was 31 years old and I had never owned a place. I said that if I buy a place, I’ll buy a place on the East Coast with the hopes of getting back here someday and rent it, using it as an investment. Then The [Howard] Stern Show happened. I bought this place because it was way more than I could get in New York and it had a view and I’m still in Jersey. I like Jersey. And my mother wouldn’t go into the Lincoln Tunnel to bring me meatballs (laughs).
You laugh, but it was a big thing back then. I love it here; it’s comfortable. I like working in New York, with this view, I have the best view of Manhattan anyone could have. I’m a depressed person mostly, so when I come out and there’s light and I see the greatest city ever right there, it encourages you to live.
There are comparable views in other places nearby, so why Hoboken specifically?
A: Well, my sister lived here and she told me about this place, and I love her and want to be close to her. She turned me onto this place…I lucked out and got this place. A lot of people want to buy it because of the view. I’m not ready to go.
You split time between here and Toms River?
A: I have a house in Toms River, a summer house on the Jersey Shore. It’s like my dream Jersey Shore house. It’s on the bay. We have a pool, it’s a big place, I like it.
But most of your time is here in Hoboken?
A: Oh yeah, I’m here and on the road.
In one of your books, you talked a lot about Uptown Pizza [on 14th Street]. Did a lot of people go there because of you mentioning it?
A: Oh god, yeah. People from all over the country. I would go there and the guy would say, “Two people from Phoenix just came in, they were in New York and they took a ferry over here, and the guy said, “This is where Artie Lange eats pizza.” So the guy gave me free pizza forever, I wasn’t looking for that. Yeah, that happened, without question.
Were there other places in town that, by default, became a “This is an Artie Lange spot?”
A: Yeah, but not being on purpose. On the show, we’d talk about it a lot, and Howard [Stern] would never let you plug something like that. So I would just say, “I ate at Dino & Harry’s,” it would help them and they would call to thank me, and I’d say “Dude, I just like it here; I’m not doing it on purpose.”
How many places are still here from when you first moved here in 2001? Have you seen the town change a lot?
A: Yes, it’s changed quite a bit. It was already gentrified when I got here, but it’s boomed. They’re building on every inch of land, it’s either a parking garage or a condo building, a high-rise. A lot of the old businesses are going, which sucks, but great food is here still. A lot of the locals are still here, a lot of the old Italians, you can’t have a bad restaurant, they won’t eat, you know? It’s a great place to live, it really is.
By me, they’re supposedly putting in a Trader Joe’s. Is that something you’re excited about?
A: Where’s that?
At 14th & Willow.
A: I guess that’s a sign, of course. That’s the first I heard of that. That’s a sign that the Yuppies are here. This building, the people are all like pilgrims or something.
Another Hoboken development is the Hudson Bike Share.
A: What is that?
It’s basically Hoboken’s attempt at Citi Bike.
A: Oh, okay.
Is that something that has any interest for you?
A: No, I would never ride a bike. Unless I knew I was getting chased by someone.
So there used to be a pool hall a few blocks from here. Do you have spots or a circuit that you like to hang out around Hoboken these days?
A: I used to when was I younger, but I like City Bistro a lot, my buddy owns that, I like the rooftop…Bin 14 and The Madison [Bar & Grill] are great restaurants, Dino & Harry’s I go to all the time. It’s a more low-key hang, I used to bar-hop. But the downtown scene, with all the college kids, I can’t deal with that, my head will explode. There is something to be said for that. I do get recognized, it’s a pain in the ass to go out, they all know me. People are very nice, but it can be a little off-putting.
For the Hoboken Comedy Festival, I know you played two years ago at the Pilsener Haus. What are some of the other venues you’ve done stand-up at in-town?
A: Besides that, Danny’s Upstairs. Danny Aiello had a comedy club. My dream is to open one in Hoboken called Hojoken and rake in the money. Danny Aiello is a friend of mine, I loved that room, it was above Tutto Pasta, I thought it was a great room, I played there quite a bit. I could work out stuff, the crowd was good if I plugged it on Stern. Another guy did a charity stand-up thing at a restaurant downtown. I did stand-up for the cops at the Elks, I did a couple of cop benefits.
So never at Maxwell’s?
A: Oh, I did a set at Maxwell’s once, I did, but that’s gone now.
The comedy club in Hoboken, is that something that you would seriously consider?
A: I would have to get a good business guy to do it with. I’d write a check maybe, and stay away from it, get some of my buddies to play. If it made business sense, I don’t know…businesses thrive. I think the people would like an option if they like comedy, instead of going to the city.