The police were everywhere outside Andrew Dice Clay's office. Maybe 200 of them, all in baggy blue uniforms, idling in small clumps--sipping coffee, chatting with passers-by and tapping their billy clubs on their thighs.
Were they here to guard the loud-mouth comic from hordes of enraged women? A rainbow coalition of ethnic minorities? A angry assortment of midgets, gays and paraplegics, all eager to mow down their foul-tongued adversary?
As it turns out, America's most controversial comic didn't need any protection in his hometown borough. The real tumult was across the street. The cops were keeping an eye on a noisy brigade of protesters gathered outside the Brooklyn courthouse where two members of a white Bensonhurst mob were being tried in the slaying last year of a black teen-ager named Yusuf Hawkins.
As darkness fell on a gray, drizzly afternoon, Dice hurried unnoticed past the crowd, accompanied by his childhood pal and road manager, Hot Tub Johnny West. But as soon a clump of cops spied the beefy comic's trademark ducktail 'do and leather jacket, they began bellowing greetings.
"Way to go Diceman!" one shouted. "What's the difference?" another cop said, mimicking a popular Dice punch line. Farther down the street, a third cop grinned and tipped his hat. "Hey, you were great on 'Saturday Night Live,' " he said. "Don't stop now."
He may be in hot water with MTV, gay rights activists, the National Organization for Women, Nora Dunn and Ben Frank's coffee shop (where he's banned for life), but here Dice gets the homecoming hero treatment. "Brooklyn is the greatest city in the world," he said, ducking into a nearby garage. "I've never liked L.A. I only go to Hollywood 'cause that's where the business is. I've got a gorgeous house out there with a 60-foot swimming pool and I've been in it maybe a month and a half since I bought it."
Clay slipped behind the wheel of a sporty new black Ford Thunderbird. "I feel at home here. Protected. I'm famous now, but I can go anywhere--to restaurants, to the mall, to the gym--without a problem."
He laughed as he pulled out into traffic. "Well, almost anywhere. I was at the gym the other day and some guy--a huge (expletive) guy--started up with me. He gives me the look and says, 'Oh, so you're the Jew trying to act like an Italian, huh?' All that stuff.
"And I say, 'You gotta problem with me?' And he says, 'Yeah, I do.' "
Dice grinned. "So I tell him, 'Just lay a hand on me and you'll have 30 guys at your throat 'cause everyone around here loves me. So watch it!' "
As he pulled out into traffic, Dice dug out a cassette of his idol--Elvis--the man who inspired Dice's stage regalia of high, upturned collars and glitter-sprayed jackets. In fact, as far as Dice is concerned, the only consolation about living in squalid, superficial L.A. is that it's given him a chance to meet his heroes. Stallone. Travolta. Even . . . Jerry Lewis.
"I loved his movies," Dice says. "Especially 'The Nutty Professor.' When Jerry met me, he knew all about me. He called it. He said, 'That act is amazing. You're Buddy Love--with a leather jacket and a dirty mouth!' "
Call him Buddy Love. Call him a moronic meathead from Brooklyn. Call him irresponsible--most of his critics do. But after a decade-long struggle on the comedy circuit, Andrew Dice Clay is finally riding The Wave. With an act that mixes filthy nursery rhymes with rude, X-rated remarks about women, this chain-smoking, 32-year-old hotrod from Sheepshead Bay has reached center spotlight.
He has sold out the Forum in Los Angeles and Madison Square Garden here (even though he's been banned by MTV); his new comedy record, "The Day the Laughter Died," has sold a phenomenal 250,000 copies in seven weeks (even though its distributor, Geffen Records, is so embarrassed that it wouldn't put its name on it), and he has two 20th Century Fox films due out by Labor Day (coming off his much-touted May 8 appearance on "Saturday Night Live" which was the fourth-highest rated show of the season).
Dice has earned the true mark of 1990 stardom--his ex-wife Kathy Swanson has reportedly filed a $6-million breach-of-contract suit claiming he "deceived" her by persuading her to use his attorney for their divorce (a charge Dice, who says he has never been served with any legal papers, vehemently denies). Even rival celebs are lining up to take sides. Sly Stallone, Cher and Billy Joel are fans. George Carlin, Jay Leno and Bob Goldthwait can't stand the guy.
The Village Voice says he isn't a comedian, he's a "demagogue." 20th Century Fox Films chairman Joe Roth counters: "He's a very good actor and the part he plays on stage, the Diceman, is a very well-thought-through character." Comedian Rita Rudner wonders: "I always felt comedy should expose ignorance, not endorse it." Joan Rivers retorts: "Anyone who takes him seriously is an idiot."
Since "Saturday Night Live" cast member Nora Dunn walked off the show rather than perform with Clay (quickly followed by the show's musical guest, Sinead O'Connor), the decibel level in the Dice Debate has rocketed into the stratosphere. He's the foul-mouthed comic America loves--or loves to hate, depending on how much you can stomach of his blustery blitzkrieg that lampoons women, midgets, the disabled, gays, Arabs, Latinos, Pakistanis and any other recent immigrants who share what Dice jovially describes as "urine-colored" complexions.
So who is this guy anyway? Is he The Diceman, the abusive comedy creep? Or is he Andrew Clay Silverstein, an ambitious guy who's stumbled onto a hot act--and won't let go? Clearly concerned by the uproar sparked by his appearance on "Saturday Night Live," Dice and his handlers were anxious to stress the difference between the comic's stage persona and his private self.
"It's not me up there--it's an act," he said, over and over. "I should win an Academy Award for Best (expletive) Acting performance for what I do on stage. It's comedy. I'm not ruining Western civilization!"
To show his sensitive side, Clay invited a reporter to follow him around Brooklyn, spend time with his buddies, watch him perform at his old comedy-club haunt, meet his girlfriend and see his new home in Bergen Beach.
It's somehow appropriate that as you sit in Dice's office, watching him smoke Marlboro 100s and autograph black leather jackets for fans, you can hear the chants and shouts from protesters marching outside the Yusuf Hawkins murder trial. In a city racked with racial tension, Dice has become a symbol--unwitting or not--of white male pride (and insecurity). He's the Blue Collar Stud of Sheepshead Bay--Ralph Kramden with a sexual wallop. Archie Bunker in a greasy pomp and black leather jacket.
Taking the baton from such swaggering pop icons as Morton Downey Jr., N.W.A, Sam Kinison, Axl Rose, Luther (Luke Skyywalker) Campbell (of 2 Live Crew) and Howard Stern, Clay has emerged as a lightning rod in a heated national debate over misogyny, gay-bashing and ethnic-baiting in entertainment.
You've heard all the catchy tags: The New Barbarians. Heavy-metal Comics. Shock Jocks. The Sultans of Sick Schtick. In a recent cover story called the Culture of Attitude, Newsweek nailed Dice's stage act on the nose (even though the magazine was focusing on rappers): "It's the culture of American males frozen in various stages of adolescence, their street-wise music, their ugly macho boasting and joking about anyone who hangs out on a different block--cops, other races, women and homosexuals."
The smug, smarmy Buddy Love image Dice so proudly embraces is especially apt. When Jerry Lewis did Love, it was simply a nerd's crazed fantasy, a symbol of the tension between a performer's need for affection and his desire to dominate his audience. With Clay, it's not a goofy character--it's the whole act.
Everybody has a theory about the origins of the jagged-edged Dice character. Vanity Fair compares him to "the nastier aspects" of Don Rickles, Joan Rivers and Rodney Dangerfield. Tony Hendra, an ex-National Lampoon editor who wrote a history of modern comedy, sees Dice as "a more extreme version" of outrageous postwar comics like Buddy Hackett and Jack Carter.
While it's true that Clay's stage manner exudes the raunchy, frat-house buffoonery of "National Lampoon's Animal House," Dice isn't a product of the Lampoon's snotty, elitist '70s sexism. He's more of a throwback--his humor has a cocky, self-congratulatory Rat Pack edge. Close your eyes when Dice is on stage and you can almost imagine Sinatra, surly and spiteful, in an after-hours tirade at the Sands, carving up a pair of women at the front table while Dino and Sammy roar with delight in the wings.
So what's the deal? Does Dice "play to the yahoo mentality of what is becoming an increasingly dysfunctional American culture?" as Times writer Lawrence Christon puts it. Is he the leader of a "new obscenity" movement that country music star Johnny Cash says has an "undercurrent of violence" that could "shatter the hopes and dreams of many who prayed and worked for brotherhood and racial tolerance?"
Dice's defenders insist it's much ado about nothing. Is Dice's lingo any raunchier than what you hear on the street from rank 'n' file in-your-face Brooklyners? A taxi driver here complained bitterly about Clay's "disgusting" language--until he was cut off by a delivery truck and launched into a stream of obscenities just as filthy as a Dice routine.
"I think it's glorious that Andrew's made it--I always knew he'd be a star," said Mitzi Shore, owner of the Comedy Store. "It's just a character, a goof. Richard Pryor did off-color material at my place for years. What's the big deal. Andrew's an artist, he's doing what's right for him. This country has freedom of speech, remember?"
Rick Rubin, who produced rap hits for LL Cool J, Run D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys before signing Clay to his Def-America record label, says Dice isn't "anymore mean-spirited" than a comic like Andy Kaufman.
"He's stupid but he's funny," said Rubin, who produced "The Day the Laughter Died." "Dice is simply acting out the Archie Bunker mentality which says women should be barefoot and pregnant, making babies and scrubbing toilets. He's as old-fashioned as it gets. He's probably closer to the way people really are than his critics would like to believe."
Wearing a sleeveless Everlast T-shirt, jeans and a huge black onyx ring ("I had it made special on Hollywood Boulevard"), Clay has the chubby arms and soft midsection of an out-of-shape fighter. Stretched out on a couch in an office decorated with a row of autographed baseballs and four volumes of Blanche Knott's Truly Tasteless Jokes, he seemed genuinely surprised--and perhaps a bit unnerved--by all the uproar generated by his appearance on "Saturday Night Live."
Still, he was in no mood to apologize. "I used to feel guilt about it, as if what I was saying was wrong," he said, lighting up a cigarette. "But then I realized I was just making 'em laugh. I didn't make up the fact that people use women for sex or that marriage can be horrible--it happens.
"I do a bit about having kids and how (terrible) it is. But, in real life, I'm in love with my girlfriend and we're having a baby and it's a beautiful thing. Now if I was really that guy on stage, why would I be having a kid? It's just a way of making people laugh."
Clay stubbed out his cigarette and lit another. "It's just garbage to call me a bigot. When I do a joke about a black guy who has a (penis) so long he has to drag it along the ground--come on! That's not racist. That's funny!" Dice pointed out the window. "That doesn't have anything to do with some poor black kid getting killed out there. No one killed him because of my jokes. When 'Rambo' came out and some guy started killing people, what was Stallone supposed to do--stop making action movies?
"Eighteen thousand people come to see my show and they don't go berserk. They don't go home and treat their girlfriends like (expletive) after they see me perform. I'm not God. I'm a comedian."
The same goes for the handicapped. "Sure, I make fun of 'em in my act, but in real life? If I see a guy with one leg standing in the rain, totally homeless, I'll walk over and give him money. Real money. I gave a guy $1,000, just because I like to see their faces light up. And I say, 'Keep it. Just put the bills in your pocket. Don't let anyone steal it.' "
Heartwarming stuff. But it begs the question: Dice, if you're really such a nice guy, why the cheap shots? The vulgar lingo? Why not show your audience your heart's in the right place?
He fell silent for a moment. "I just had to get to a certain level before I could do the stuff I really want to do. They don't want to see that nice side of me when I do stand-up. They're expecting something--and I deliver it."
Clay fired up another cigarette. He seemed impatient with having to constantly defend himself. "It's ridiculous, people ripping me apart for a fictitious character. I make 'em laugh. What's so bad about that? My audience doesn't go out and rob a bank or loot or rape. They walk out laughing.
"To me, calling foreigners 'urine-colored' is hilarious. It's the truth, isn't it? You get in a cab in New York, nobody even knows the language! So I say, 'Get out of the country!' Do I really mean it? Come on! It's a joke. My audience is roaring.
"They know the difference. They've got to know, unless they're retarded or something.
"But nobody lets up. Here's a media guy who maybe went to Harvard or some school like that--and he sits in front of a TV and thinks I'm ruining society. How can you say that dirty Mother Goose rhymes are gonna ruin society?"
He sighed. "It's very simple. Andrew Clay Silverstein is the person. Andrew Dice Clay is the show."
Of course, it's never that simple. Clay spent nearly a decade in the comedy bush leagues, starting at tiny clubs like Pip's in Sheepshead Bay, trying to make a name for himself. In his office, he has a dog-eared 1979 picture of himself at Pip's--in a baggy white shirt, pants rolled up to his knees and a pair of thick glasses--doing his Jerry Lewis "Nutty Professor" bit. ("I had a leather jacket underneath the shirt," Dice recalls, "so when the lights went out I could switch over and do my Travolta.")
His heroes weren't comics. They were Elvis; Fonzi ("a PG version of Dice"); Travolta ("the James Dean of my time"). And perhaps most of all . . . Stallone. "I remember sitting in the Avenue U Theatre with my dad, watching 'Rocky I,' and it was a real big moment for me. I kept saying, 'I can do that with my life.' "
In the '70s, Clay worked the Catskills as a drummer, playing wedding halls under the name Clay Silvers. He moved to Los Angeles in 1979, getting work at Mitzi Shore's Comedy Store and switching his stage name to Andrew Clay. In 1983, he added the Dice moniker. By the mid-'80s, he began to land parts in such movies as "Pretty in Pink" and 1988's "Casual Sex," for which Times critic Michael Wilmington described his character as "a macho bozo from Jersey." He was also constructing the Dice persona, talking dirty and picking on unsuspecting couples in the front rows.
The act was not an instant hit. Shore now says she "loved" his act, but she admits she banished Dice to the wee-hours slot, telling him his material was too filthy ("none of the other comics could follow him"). But the Diceman routine began to catch on. "It was simple psychology," he said, driving out to his old Pip's haunt one night. "I talked about heterosexual couples 'cause that was who was in the clubs. And it got laughs. A shock. Then a laugh. I was saying things that were going through the guys' heads."
Dice was never much of a ladies man as a kid. He had his first girlfriend at 16. They went out for nine uneventful months. "Finally I got sick of sitting in her parent's kitchen with the parents--and the grandfather--waiting for brother to come back and drive me home," Dice recalled. (Sex was out of the question--Dice says he got to first base "once"). "The first time I went out on a date was at Coney Island. It was a disaster. She threw up after going on the rides and then we went to the boardwalk and immediately got mugged."
Things were different in Los Angeles. "I learned everything I do now from the Hollywood women," he said. "They all wanted to be starlets. The way they think--you have a cup of coffee with a guy and you (sleep with) him. I'd be in bed with this sweet girl and she'd say the filthiest things. I couldn't believe it.
Dice offered a graphic description of one of his early seductions. He beamed. "I'd call my friends back home and say, 'You won't believe the women out here. You don't even have to buy 'em coffee!' "
Somehow it's fitting that Dice's career really took off the night he performed at a stag dinner--an all-male Big Brother banquet in 1988. All of Hollywood's royalty was there. "They're dressed in tuxedos and I show up in a black leather jacket with a flag on the back that said 'Rock 'n Roll,' " Clay recalled. "Carl Reiner brought me up and introduced me as a George Bush campaign adviser. I remember walking by Jack Lemmon, who was on the dais, and I gave him a squeeze on the cheek and said, 'You (expletive). I love you!'
"I knew it was do or die, so I got up there, took the mike, looked across the room and said: 'So . . . " Clay recited one of his signature opening lines, which is too obscene to be printed in this newspaper.
Clay flashed a wolfish grin. "By the time I was done, Carl Reiner was saying, 'I don't know what just happened, but tonight, Andrew Dice Clay became a star in this room.' And it was true. The next day 20th Century Fox called and wanted to make a deal. And a few days later, ("Ford Fairlane" producer) Joel Silver came down to see me at the Comedy Store and started talking about the movie with me."
Clay smiled contentedly. "I remember after the banquet going home and saying to my girlfriend, 'Trini. Tonight I made it. This was the night I made it in show business.' "
Dice's office, where his father has managed his career for the last 15 years, is pure bridge 'n' tunnel glamour. Eyeing the walls, which are packed with "Entertainer of the Year" plaques, gold record citations, 8x10 glossies and posters of films Dice had bit parts in (each with Dice's name stenciled in as if he'd been the star), you feel like you're in a scene from "Broadway Danny Rose," Woody Allen's homage to the faraway fringe of show biz.
Clay's home, however, is bereft of show-biz trappings. It's a comfortable house, with hardwood floors, a piano in the living room and a country-style kitchen (where Dice stored two neat stacks of papers, the New York Post and Daily News, which both closely monitored his ups and downs during the "Saturday Night Live" imbroglio).
As night fell, Dice and his girlfriend, Kathleen Monica (Dice calls her Trini) holed up in the kitchen, where Dice screened tapes of his favorite performances and watched "A Current Affair." Trini (who is five months pregnant) cooked steaks and potatoes. Never taking his eyes off the TV when he was on screen, Dice skimmed through highlights of his upcoming concert movie ("We'll skip the handicapped jokes") and moved to clips from "Friday Night Videos," where he was joined by homeboys Hot Tub Johnny and Larry the Locksmith, who Dice met in the 8th grade when "Larry was sawing off the leg of his desk with a pen knife."
Seeing "A Current Affair" served as a reminder that Dice, by his gauge, hasn't gotten a fair shake from the media. "When I want to promote 'Don't Do Drugs,' nobody writes about it," he complained, eyeing the TV. "But when I do a dirty Mother Goose poem--'Oh that's horrible, it's ruining society.' I've always said--let kids see that Dice didn't get to where he is because he did drugs. And now that he's there, he still doesn't do 'em. Print that. Don't print that he talks about oral sex. They're gonna learn about that soon enough anyway."
Originally from New Jersey, Trini was working as a waitress in Chicago when they first met. "His first line to me was: 'Who's this dumb blond who's got nothing to say?' " she recalled as she set the table. "And I immediately snapped, 'So, you must be from Brooklyn.' I was thinking: 'Who in the hell is this guy?' But after we started talking, I gotta admit we hit it off."
A savvy woman with a lively personality, Trini stands by her man. "He's affectionate and he needs affection," she said, serving a plate of garlic bread. "He's very old-fashioned. Just look at our relationship."
Dice interrupts: "OK, OK," he growled. "Just gimme the steak."
Trini shrugged. "He's always taken care of me. He'd rather have me not work and spend my time with him. Even when he wasn't making any money, there was a time when he said, 'Look, you might need to get a job to help out. Would you do that for me?' But he's always been a great breadwinner. He's the businessman, so I just try to help him out. But when I was in the hospital (after a bicycle accident), he put his career on hold to be with me."
She beamed. "He's gonna be a great dad. Very protective. Like a watchdog."
"Like a wolf man!" Dice says, taking a bite of steak. He seems a little embarrassed by all this sentiment. "Trini," he says. "It needs salt, baby."
Trini is unmoved by all the uproar over Dice's on-stage attitude toward women. "If somebody doesn't like him, that's their problem," she said, getting the salt. "I don't give a (expletive). I don't try to change anyone's minds. If Nora Dunn had come up to me, I'd have said, 'Hey. You're entitled to your feelings. But don't knock me 'cause I disagree.' "
Trini handed Dice a plate with more potatoes. "Andrew isn't Dice--not in this house. Look around. There's no show biz here."
Clay wagged his head in agreement. "Look at this place," he said, pointing with his fork to the kitchen's broad wooden counters and simple tile floor. "Would the Diceman have a country kitchen?"
Tonight Dice is on stage at Pip's, a tiny, crowded joint in Sheepshead Bay where he got his start--and where he often returns to sharpen his comedy chops. When Clay sweeps in, accompanied by Trini; his dad, Fred Silverstein; and an entourage of neighborhood pals, the place starts to buzz. It's as if you're at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park and Bruce Springsteen ducked in with his guitar.
Within moments, Dice is on stage. Ten minutes before, at dinner, Clay was joking with Trini, having "stare-down" contests with Hot Tub Johnny and saying how he was "glad" to see one of the Bensonhurst mob was convicted of second-degree murder (of all the men a visitor met in Brooklyn, Clay was the only one to say he agreed with the conviction).
On stage, he's transformed into . . . The Diceman. After lighting a cigarette, he starts up with a woman in the front row. "I like the way you did your hair tonight." She keeps talking to a friend at her table. "Hey! I'm talking to you !" Dice bellows. "What's with the hair? Blow dry it?"
The woman loudly defends her hairdo. Dice keeps it up. She asks him to leave her alone. "See!" he sneers. "This is why I pick on girls. We're having an argument and I don't even know you!"
Dice turns to a guy nearby. "So! What do you want?" The man says: "I want to hear the camping trip (routine)." Dice fixes him with a cold stare. "Oh, so you want to hear the camping trip, huh? What'd you pay to see me? Huh? Huh? . . . Nothing! So that's what you're gonna get. Nothing!"
Next up is a series of jokes about oral sex. Then a routine where Dice encourages two couples to swap and have sex with each other. After that, another meditation on oral sex. Moving on, he contrasts how Jewish and Italian men reach orgasm. "With the Jewish guy, it's 'Oy. Oy. OY! O-O-O-O-Y-Y-Y-Y Gevelte!!!' " Dice explains. "With the Italian guy--let's face it, they have a way--it's 'Ooh. Ooh yeh. Uh-huh. Ooohhhh. Oh boy! OOOHHH! . . . BING!"
Most of the women in the audience giggle and hoot at the bits, though sometimes a bit nervously. But not everybody's a convert. Seated between two ladies, a visitor asks their opinions.
A Sheepshead Bay woman responds: "I've been seeing him for 14 years. I saw him when he was doing Travolta and Jerry Lewis impressions. He used to be funny. Now, I don't know. You don't want to know what I really think. It's the same act--over and over."
The other woman, Dorit Rosen of New York, isn't so circumspect. "He shouldn't abuse women so much. I don't think he has the right to tell women they're stupid. I'm from Israel, so maybe I don't get it. I know he's successful, so maybe he's a smart guy. But I don't think he's funny."
If you judge him by Hollywood celeb standards, you'd have to admit Clay has lots of likable qualities. He's open, unpretentious, devoted to his family, strongly anti-drug and not afraid to laugh at himself a little.
But what makes you uncomfortable isn't just his act--and all its snarling hostility toward women. What's really unsettling--and somewhat disturbing--is that Clay has so little commitment to the act. He simply shrugs off all the emotions he's aroused. It's just a routine, just a way to get noticed, just a way to spin his career into a higher orbit.
In fact, now that he's made it, Clay is preparing to jettison the Dice pose, eager to swap it for a more sensitive, uplifting image.
"I want to do for somebody what 'Rocky I' did for me," he says, lying on the couch in his office one afternoon. "I want to inspire somebody. I'm happy I did an action-comedy movie, and I'm excited about my concert film. But after that, I want to do more serious things.
"I have certain messages I want to get out, to show people that you should have the courage to go after things in life and do them. You should see the kind of money I'm turning down from movie studios 'cause I don't want to do the same old movies over and over."
Clay fished for a new pack of cigarettes. "Now that I have a bigger audience, I want to show 'em what I have inside--to give something back instead of just standing up on stage and making 'em laugh. I've got this one movie, 'The Comic and the Con,' that really shows you the other side. The sensitive side. It has something to say. It's about other emotions, emotions that'll bring a tear to your eye. . . ."
Still, the Diceman is lugging some heavy baggage with him. It's hard to imagine that most of the throngs who whoop it up at his comedy concerts are dying to see his sensitive side. (Just ask Sly what happens at the box-office when he ventures outside of "Rocky" and "Rambo.") Once you've catapulted to fame with an act that opens with oral sex--and goes downhill from there--the die seems to be cast. If there's an audience eager to see Dice do "Death of a Salesman," can "Axl Rose Sings Rogers & Hammerstein" be far behind?
Clay laughs at such doubts. "People have always been telling me I couldn't make it," he says cooly. "From day one, I believed in myself. From the time I was 7, I knew. I didn't study in school. I wasn't good in sports. I graduated from high school 'cause I was a good drummer! I remember my math teacher passed me even though I didn't do the work 'cause he knew I had something."
He snuffs out his cigarette. "If they don't let me make the movies I want, then I can always quit. I told my father if they don't let me do the kind of movies I want to do, I won't do any movies. And I won't do concerts. I've already made the money. Now I want to do something important."
Dice got up and walked over to the window, staring out at Brooklyn. "And if not, I'll just stop and disappear."
He wagged his head. "I'm big now. But don't worry. There'll always be somebody bigger. I always knew that. Ten years from now, some other kid from Brooklyn, or from the Midwest, will come along with the same attitude and confidence I have.
"And he'll say, 'Hey, I'm bigger than you. ' And I'll respect that kid because I've done it already. That's how I feel. There's always room for someone else."