Chicago Com­edy Film Fes­ti­val pulls Andy Dick

Chicago Sun-Times - - AGENDA - By DEANNA ISAACS | CHICAGO READER @ Dean­naIsaacs

Last week, in the midst of news that wheel­chair- bound nona­ge­nar­ian Ge­orge H. W. Bush pats women on the rear and tells dirty jokes and that Bran­deis Uni­ver­sity is can­cel­ing a play about Lenny Bruce be­cause it’s of­fen­sive, came the an­nounce­ment that the Chicago Com­edy Film Fes­ti­val has pulled its Novem­ber 11 show­ing of a doc­u­men­tary about co­me­dian Andy Dick.

This is a guy widely known to have built a three- decade show busi­ness ca­reer on out­ra­geously living up to his name, which, as he points out in the very funny film in ques­tion, hap­pens to be A. Dick.

On Novem­ber 2, two days af­ter pub­lished re­ports that Dick had been fired from a small role in an up­com­ing film for sex­ual ha­rass­ment and mis­con­duct on the set, CCFF artis­tic direc­tor Jes­sica Hardy is­sued a state­ment that the doc­u­men­tary Ev­ery­body Has an Andy Dick Story had been dropped from the fes­ti­val, which runs this week­end. Hardy says this is the first time in CCFF’s seven- year his­tory that it’s pulled a film for con­tent.

The ac­cu­sa­tions against Dick— a for­mer Chicagoan who dur­ing the 1980s stud­ied at the Uni­ver­sity of Illi­nois, Columbia Col­lege, and Sec­ond City— in­cluded mak­ing in­ap­pro­pri­ate and of­fen­sive re­marks, propo­si­tion­ing peo­ple on the set, kiss­ing and lick­ing them, and grop­ing them, all of which oc­curred while he ap­peared to be in­tox­i­cated. It was sub­se­quently re­ported that he’d been fired from an­other film a few weeks ear­lier.

Dick has de­nied the grop­ing charge, but none of the many peo­ple in­ter­viewed in the doc­u­men­tary would be sur­prised by any of it; like the mil­lions who’ve watched this pan­sex­ual free spirit with an ad­mit­ted so­bri­ety prob­lem on tele­vi­sion, film, and the In­ter­net, they’ve been mostly laugh­ing at it for years. As Kevin Far­ley puts it in Ev­ery­body Has an

Andy Dick Story, “Pulling your pants down is still funny, Andy knows that.” On Dick’s pur­ported rap sheet, read by him in a clip in the film, “pub­lic uri­na­tion” is fol­lowed by “cre­at­ing a dis­tur­bance at a Marie Cal­len­der’s.”

Hardy told me last week that the doc­u­men­tary had been ac­cepted in Au­gust and that CCFF got a few e- mails about Dick’s sex­ual mis­con­duct in pub­lic set­tings as soon as it was an­nounced. “We de­cided to keep it, be­cause we didn’t have any first­hand ex­pe­ri­ence,” she said, but af­ter the re­cent news broke, “we re­ally got push­back, and then we felt it was im­por­tant for us to say, ‘ We don’t think sex­ual ha­rass­ment is funny.’ Un­til this is in­ves­ti­gated and cleared, we don’t want to be a part of it.

“We’ve been talk­ing about this kind of thing in the in­dus­try for a long time; at some point we have to draw a line. Our first pri­or­ity is to have a safe en­vi­ron­ment where men and women can at­tend and not feel un­com­fort­able.”

The f i l m’s direc­tor, Cathy Carl­son, has known Dick since they met in an im­prov class at the U. of I. in the early 1980s. She re­con­nected with him years later in Los Angeles, where, like nu­mer­ous other peo­ple, she wound up living for a time in his house. “He lived up­stairs with his son and ex- wife, and I lived down­stairs with his girl­friend, who had a baby on the way, and their two- year- old son. I know it sounds crazy, but it was a shock­ingly func­tional house­hold.” More re­cently, Dick’s been living in a shed.

Carl­son worked on the movie, which she calls a new style of doc­u­men­tary ( be­cause it in­cludes the re­ac­tion of the sub­ject to the film), for seven years, in­ter­view­ing le­gions of smit­ten friends, in­clud­ing Ben Stiller, Kathy Grif­fin, Mar­garet Cho, Sherri Shep­herd, and Dr. Drew Pin­sky, with­out Dick’s knowl­edge. “Then I sur­prised him with it in a screen­ing room and put his re- ac­tions in the film.”

CCFF “ab­so­lutely loved this movie,” she says. “They asked if it could be the Chicago pre­miere.” Un­til last week. Then, “I got an e- mail from them say­ing we pulled your film. They were wor­ried about peo­ple feeling safe. I called them and said, ‘ Hey, I can un­der­stand that you might not want Andy there [ he was sched­uled to ap­pear], but I doubt if my film’s go­ing to sex­u­ally as­sault any­body.

“There are plenty of peo­ple in my movie who say he did in­ap­pro­pri­ate things to them and they thought it was funny,” Carl­son adds. “He is a mad ge­nius, provo­ca­teur, class clown— a bril­liant comedic artist. Some­times that goes the wrong way. This is a full de­pic­tion of who this guy is, good or bad. And it’s Amer­ica, so I can find an­other venue.” And she did. Ev­ery­body Has an Andy Dick Story will screen at Liar’s Club on the same date, Novem­ber 11. Dick will be there, and will also per­form at Za­nies the next night. CHI-

CAGO COM­EDY FILM FES­TI­VAL Thu 11/ 9- Sat 11/ 11, var­i­ous times and venues, 312- 344- 3829, chicago­com­e­dy­film­fes­ti­ Visit web­site for ticket prices and avail­abil­ity.

EV­ERY­BODY HAS AN ANDY DICK STORY Di­rected by Cathy Carl­son. 73 min. Sat 11/ 11, 8: 30 PM, Liar's Club, 1665 W. Fuller­ton, 773- 665- 1110.

ANDY DICK Sun 11/ 12, 6 PM, Za­nies, 1 548 N. Wells, 312- 337- 4027, za­nies. com/ chicago. $ 25 plus two- drink/ food min­i­mum.

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