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Puzzling Evidence

Howard Stern cast member Artie Lange gives readers more on his inner demons in confessional yet funny autobiography

Too Fat to Fish” by Artie Lange (in stores on November 11), is the memoir of a comedic actor whose life philosophy could be summed up by his recent remark, “Who would have bet that Heath Ledger would go before I did?” As he reveals in this book, Lange has survived consumption of enough alcohol, cocaine, pills and heroin to choke about nine Heath Ledgers -- and managed to be the rare case who gained weight on coke and heroin.

But the same no-apologies lifestyle is what’s made Lange a survivor and given him the candor and honesty that’s made him a great foil on the Howard Stern Show since 2001. “Too Fat to Fish” is the other piece of the Lange puzzle, his own amazing and unbelievable life stories that his sketch comedy work on Mad TV years ago and his starring role in his own movie vehicle, “Beer League,” only hinted at.

In this book, Lange confesses some of the extent of his boozing and drugging that he never previously admitted to on Stern’s show or anywhere else. Even after kicking cocaine once his abuse got him let go from Mad TV, years later he had another go-round with other drugs, brought on by trying to juggle an insane schedule of his Stern show work with making “Beer League” -- to the point that the reader marvels how Lange still survived.

All this self-destructive behavior might otherwise leave a reader wondering why they should care, but Lange’s accounts of this are not all there is to this book. He also shares an obvious devotion to his mother, sister and late father, and shares an undoubtedly amazing memory of his dad taking him to one of the Yankees 1977 World Series games as a kid.

The title “Too Fat To Fish” alludes to another unique aspect of Lange’s memories in this book -- an emblematic New Jersey family story about how when Lange was trying to get in good with a boss when he worked as a Newark longshoreman before breaking into comedy, his paranoid mother, convinced something bad would happen, yelled at him and kept him from going fishing with the boss, an incident that really did take on a life all its own.

The key to Lange’s autobiography is that for all his screwing up, as a youth and an adult, he never falls into the trap of crediting his survival to a higher power, or wallowing in self-help and personal improvement cliches. Even the redemption of sorts that he finds by the final chapter, getting to perform for US troops in the Middle East, is tenuous. And the honest, conversational style Lange uses to tell his story has the reader rooting for him through all his travails, and actually laughing along with him all the way.

Artie Lange will sign copies of “Too Fat To Fish” at noon on November 11 at the Barnes & Noble at 555 Fifth Ave., and in several other cities throughout this month and next.




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