Howard Stern's former sidekick Artie Lange again touched on the King of All Media's transition from radio's raunchiest rebel to family-friendly funnyman, bewildered in particular about the radio icon's newfound admiration of Ellen DeGeneres — who Stern once called a "c**t" — and her daily dancing bit.
"I gotta say this to you Howard Stern fans ... again, we have a Howard now that says he looks forward to Ellen dancing and he kisses Ellen's a**," Lange said on his podcast Thursday before launching into a "disclaimer" that he wasn't intending on bashing Stern personally, but responding to his fan base about an unavoidable topic.
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"I've said this before — if you're listening to a show where you're hearing Howard Stern's voice, you're probably listening to the best radio available — that aside, I can't sit silent and … not address you Stern fans and express the fact that you're right in saying it is very odd ... that Howard says he likes Ellen's dancing. Because we used to viciously bash the fact that she became an enormous ratings hit during the f**king day because she danced, in a very creepy, disconcerting way.
"Who is pretending that that is at all entertaining? When she dances, it is so d**che-chilly unfunny, there is nothing funny or entertaining about Ellen dancing ... to the hippest song, she's dancing to Fetty Wap! I mean, what is she f**king doing? It's embarrassing … it's f**king gross, she's not a talented person. She's a sham!"
In the mid-1990s, years before Lange joined the top-rated radio show in 2001, Stern needled DeGeneres with crude speculation over her sexuality and personal life; he's since admittedly "evolved" from the shocking brand of racial, sexual and celeb-bashing comedy he built his empire on. Fast forward to May 2009, when Stern conducted a joint interview with Jimmy Kimmel and Ben Stiller, who was slated to appear on Ellen in the near future at the time of the appearance. Stern suggested to the Zoolander star he should refuse to dance with DeGeneres, painting it as a hackneyed bit. "Why won't you make a stand? I'm being serious now. You've made enough hit movies, you've got a name in this business, why don't you make a stand and say, 'No.' Stand there, literally stand there … and say, 'I'm not going to dance, Ellen' ... it's ridiculous," Stern said.
'That's Why I Told You Ellen's A C**t!'
The King of All Media turned up the heat on his Feb. 11, 2010 broadcast, amid speculation he would be offered a spot as a judge on American Idol, and subsequent reports stating DeGeneres had threatened to walk away from her then-spot on the show should that happen. "Ellen DeGeneres is such a jerk," Stern said, noting that he's never been one to interfere in other people's professional opportunities out of fear of bad karma. "She would deny me my dream job because she doesn't like me personally — and that's why I told you Ellen's a c**t!" He took things to a personal level, referencing the openly-gay comic's sexuality. "And that face of her's, she looks like she smelled bad p**sy! I think before she got famous, she had a lot of bad p**sy and that nose of her is forever crinkled," Stern said, later adding, "She wishes she had a d**k."
In the tirade, Stern said that the friendly image DeGeneres projects on-air is totally farcical. "Oh she's such a foul piece of garbage, people who work with her know ... she's a tyrant ogre, this whole nice girl image is a lot of horses**t fakery. She's miserable, and she is a miserable woman." The vitriolic outburst prompted co-host Robin Quivers to chime in, "When can we just go ahead and say she's not funny? When is the statue of limitations up that we can finally admit she's not funny?"
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The professional slight also opened the floodgates for Stern to attack DeGeneres over the 2007 incident in which a Southern California animal shelter called Mutts and Moms confiscated a puppy named "Iggy" she adopted and subsequently gave to a friend, leading to an emotional on-air speech in addressing the controversy. But Stern — whose wife Beth has carved out a niche in animal activism in recent years — wasn't having any of it. "She's so dishonest — she's dishonest in every aspect of her life, including adopting puppies ... this was all a lie," the Private Parts star said, ranting over audio of her speech. "Ellen DeGeneres is a nut, she's a bonafide nut ... good lord, put her on some lithium or thorazine or something, whatever cocktail you can come up with to calm her the f**k down. Stop adopting dogs and giving them away, who are you, Robin Hood?"'
Smoothing Things Over
Stern's hostility for DeGeneres lessened considerably in February 2012 — around the months leading up to his heavily-hyped debut on America's Got Talent — when he defended her after a group called One Million Moms threatened a boycott of JCPenney because the retailer made the openly-gay TV star their spokesperson. "I am not the biggest Ellen DeGeneres fan, but I'll tell you what, I will defend her to the end ... I will do whatever I can for Ellen DeGeneres," he said. Shortly after extending that olive branch, the two exchanged phone calls and crossed paths at a party he said Jimmy Kimmel threw for him during his trip to the West Coast. At the bash, Stern said he and DeGeneres bonded over their fondness for meditation. Less than three months after that, Stern's wife Beth appeared as a guest on Ellen's talk show, where the North Shore Animal League spokesperson revealed the opening line she used to break the ice at the Kimmel bash, upon first meeting DeGeneres and her wife, Portia de Rossi: "I love animals!"
More than three years later, DeGeneres made her first appearance as a guest on Stern's Sept. 8, 2015 broadcast in a chat that drew some media interest for her candor regarding her terrible time on American Idol, and her confusion on Caitlyn Jenner's gay marriage stance. But the takeaway for Lange and thousands of other Stern fans was the radio icon's gushing praise for the dance routine he had mocked mercilessly for years. Stern told DeGeneres, "I love when you come out and dance, I actually look forward to it. But what's weird about it is, I'm trying to break down why I like that. I think it's because I expect you can't dance."
'He's Gone To The Dark Side!'
On his podcast Thursday, Lange continued on the turn-of-events in an entertaining, stream-of-consciousness style rant in which he mused about the changes in Stern's personal and professional lives.
"I don't know what the agenda is, I'm going to say right now he doesn't like it — I guarantee it, I know Howard well enough to know he doesn't f**king like it," the Crash and Burn author said. "If he really likes it, he has been brainwashed in a way that has never been seen before. I'm telling you right now, the Howard that likes Ellen's dancing, and is somehow forced to go on the beach and make small talk with Orlando f**king Bloom is not the Howard I knew, it is not the real guy!"
The Beer League star lauded his former boss as "the one f**king guy that can look at the politically correct police and go, 'F**k you, I'll continue to say Ellen dancing is r****ded and if you like it, you're r****ded. I'll continue to say Ryan Seacrest is way too effeminate, I don't care about his red carpet bulls**t. I will continue to say all this and get away with it because I'm the guy who can do it.'"
Lange said that Stern's turn toward a more politically-correct image might create other obstacles for the comedy community moving forward, as the King Of All Media has been a trailblazer in pushing the boundaries of what's acceptable to joke about in society.
"As a Howard Stern fan, the fact that Howard is not saying that, and the fact that he's not only NOT saying that to the politically correct police — that have ruined comic's careers — he's embracing them. On purpose! On purpose! Howard is going into that world and saying, 'I want to be part of you. I don't have to be, but I want to be,' which means you're going to win."
The It's The Whiskey Talkin' star said that if Stern is willing to get in line, and play by the new rules of political correctness, "then guys like me don't even have a shot.
"Me as an outlaw, I don't have that kind of power — Seacrest will squash me like a bug, because he's way bigger than I am, way more popular, has more money. Ellen DeGeneres will squash me like a bug! Because I don't even have the great Howard Stern in my corner anymore, he's gone to the dark side!"