In Crash and Burn, Artie Lange tells the behind-the-scenes story about his meltdown on The Howard Stern Show:
It was about this time in my crash that my performance on the “Stern Show” slid into the s— after eight solid years. If you want to talk about a loss of timing, all I need to say is that falling asleep on air, with 6 million people listening, became my most consistent contribution. That is when I wasn’t making nonsensical comments, interrupting Howard, or fighting with just about everyone.
One morning that sticks in my mind was the day we had Ben Stiller and Jimmy Kimmel on the show. At some point in the conversation Kimmel mentioned that he was friends with Tom Cruise and that he didn’t believe the story in “Too Fat to Fish” (Lange’s first book) where I talk about how rude Tom was to me on the set of “Jerry Maguire.” Jimmy was being friendly about it, just saying it didn’t sound like Tom, but I didn’t see it that way at all. I saw it as a personal attack.
“F— you, Jimmy,” I said. “Tom Cruise is a f—— a——. He’s a f—— creep.”
“Calm down, Artie,” Howard said.
I didn’t calm down, of course. I kept at it to the detriment of the show and to my already sagging performance. That was the first time I really sucked, but it was far from the last.
In September Howard had to sit me down for a heart-to-heart, which he’d never had to do in my eight years on the show.
“Listen, Art,” Howard said. “We don’t know if you’ve got something going on again, but you’ve not been doing your job on the air lately.”
“Howard, I’m clean,” I said. I was totally lying — I was high at the time.
“We always had a rhythm, Art,” Howard said. “You and Robin and I were always seamless, and that was great. But now you’re sort of interrupting us and I’m worried about you. You get crazed over little things. I don’t want to drug test you because that’s none of my business, but I want you to be all right.”
“Howard, I’m clean and I’m working on myself,” I said. “I’ve gotten rid of the drugs, but I’ve got a lot of work to do on myself. I understand that.”
“I don’t want to fire you, Artie,” Howard said. “It seemed like you were doing so good. Just work on that.”
“I will, Howard, I promise.”
Yeah, right. It just got worse and worse.