The real reason why Artie Lange hates Howard Stern

Artie Lange isn't the only celeb who can't stand Howard Stern, but the animosity he holds toward his former boss is undeniably personal and goes back a long time.

For nearly a decade, Lange served as one of Stern's more popular sidekicks on The Howard Stern Show. However, his longtime battle with heroin and prescription drug addiction led to the troubled comic's shocking departure in 2009. Since then, Lange has maintained a successful career doing stand-up, starring on HBO's Crashing, and penning his second New York Times bestseller, 2013's Crash and Burn.

Stern is, of course, one of the most iconic figures in pop culture. The self-proclaimed "King of All Media" has dominated American radio for over thirty years, becoming one of the world's highest-paid entertainers while delighting audiences with his insightful interviews and vulgar humor.

Between this former comedy duo's complicated showbiz history and their on-and-off friendship, let's take a look at why Artie Lange hates Howard Stern so much. The reasons might just surprise you.

Was he forced off the show?

As Artie Lange's struggle with addiction and depression worsened throughout his tenure on Howard Stern's show, it increasingly affected his work. "My performance … slid into s**t after eight solid years," the comic wrote in Crash and Burn (via the NY Daily News). He'd noticeably lost his timing by 2009 and often fell asleep on air. After taking an indefinite hiatus for a rehab stint that December, he suffered a gruesome suicide attempt after the New Year.

In the end, Stern decided against inviting Lange back on the show. "I don't even feel strong enough within myself or that I'd be doing the right thing by him, because I don't want to do the wrong thing for Artie," the shock jock told Rolling Stone in 2011. "I just want Artie to stay alive."

Blocking Lange's return was meant to aid in his recovery, but it ultimately led to the frequent collaborators' falling out. "I don't talk to Howard. We hate each other's guts," Lange told The Daily Beast in 2018. "He can't stand me for some reason, and I've learned to hate him."

Understanding addiction

Artie Lange has long-credited Howard Stern for supporting him through his journey toward sobriety, but that doesn't mean the radio DJ knew exactly what the comedian was going through at the height of his addiction.

"He didn't know the extent of it," Lange told WEEI's Kirk Minihane in 2016 (via Uproxx), but admitted, "There's no way he could've." As if echoing this point two years later, a quote from Lange's first appearance on The Howard Stern Show was brought up during the comic's interview with The Daily Beast. "You need coke. You're a lot better on it," Stern had jokingly told Lange in the late '90s. "Go out and get into more trouble, and we'll have you back on." However, in the present day, Lange simply told the interviewer, "I know. But you can't blame anyone else for any of this." 

Still, Lange later maintained, "He didn't [understand addiction]," during his appearance on The Dopey: The Dark Comedy Of Drug Addiction podcast in 2018.

He's critical of Stern's PC tone

Artie Lange may be counted among the more outspoken critics of The Howard Stern Show's more politically correct direction during the 2010s. "He did a lot of good things but he's undoing it," Lange said on his Artie Quitter podcast in December 2016 (via the Daily Mail). He went on to claim that Stern "abandoned" his fans in exchange for more mainstream success.

"Howard's genius is seeing which way the wind is blowing in society and acting accordingly," he told The Daily Beast, alleging, "I think he saw over time the way the show was going, and that it would not be conducive to have me on it … I think he was trying to figure out a way to get rid of me." 

Following one of Lange's more brutal attacks in this vein, Stern hit back on his show in 2015. "I hear that all the time, that I'm PC … All right, so I'm politically correct, what can I tell you?" he said, adding, "I know that some people might not like my show anymore and if you don't like it, I welcome you to leave."

The object of Stern's, um, obsession?

Artie Lange may not mince his words when it comes to Howard Stern, but the exact opposite is true for the latter, who's refused to replace and rarely discusses the comedian on The Howard Stern Show. "He's obsessed with me. He doesn't bring up my name and I was there for 10 years, that's calculated," Lange said on Artie Quitter (via the Daily Mail). Expanding on his, well, interesting theory, the comic added, "He'll never talk to me again." He later told The Daily Beast, "That chair isn't empty completely because Howard felt like it; that chair is empty because he knows no one can do what I did."

However, Stern's ongoing silence on the matter may just be a sign of lingering pain over the difficult situation. According to a source cited by Radar Online in 2018, "When Artie left, Howard kind of felt betrayed in a sense … I still think to this day, Howard is still hurt." Claiming that Stern doesn't want "to go through that again," the insider added, "He really cared about Artie, and once you shut someone out of their life for good, it really was like Artie had died."

Searching for closure

Ever since he left The Howard Stern Show, Artie Lange has yet to feel a sense of closure. As he's lamented in multiple interviews over the years, this is partly because he's had little contact with Stern despite his attempts to reconnect. "Where I'm pissed off is, you know, we were really tight, on the air and off the air, very very close," Lange told WEEI's Kirk Minihane (via Uproxx). "We were friends, and went through a lot of battles together. And for a decade I sat two feet from that guy, and we had what some people think are the funniest moments in radio history."

Feeling that he deserves better than both literal and figurative radio silence, the comedian went on, "I just think, all that, maybe I earned ten minutes off the air to just let me say in person 'I'm sorry' and hear me out and hug and say goodbye." But unfortunately, "That closure never happened."

Tweeting out threats

Artie Lange's ongoing — and seemingly one-sided — feud with Howard Stern came to a head in May 2018 when he threatened to post the shock jock's personal phone number on social media if he didn't send him $2500. (No, we're not making this up.)

"Warning Howard Stern: Howard it's Artie. I've had enough of your s**t!" Lange began a strange series of tweets. "Sorry it's come to this." After spelling out his alleged demands, the comedian taunted his old boss. "Ha! Who's the baby gorilla now King of All ppl who's cell number is known by everyone who follows me on Twitter? See u in Hell!" he wrote in one tweet, as he took shots at Stern's mainstream success, A-list friendships, and animal rights activism.

It's unclear what exactly brought all this on or whether Lange was even serious about following through. However, a source told Radar Online that it was all in good fun, saying, "He's joking! He has a soft spot for Stern. It's like a love-hate relationship, but Artie will always love Stern." …Alright then.

Their complicated dynamic

After leaving The Howard Stern Show, Artie Lange felt as if he'd not only lost a close friend and mentor, but also a father figure in Stern. "We hate each other's guts. It had a terrible ending," the comedian told PhillyVoice of their seemingly irreparable relationship in 2017. "And that's what happens — then you go into rehab and, you know, they tell you, you lose friends."

According to Lange, Stern essentially cut him out of his life completely. Strangely enough, Lange has often attributed this move to their father-son relationship dynamic. "He did think of me I think a little bit like a son type of thing," he said on The Dopey podcast, adding, "Any time I give him s**t, it's a son trying to get attention, 'cause that's how I love the guy."

Perhaps because of their complicated history, Lange still feels "totally influenced" by Stern. "I feel his moves all the time, especially in interviewing," he told NJ.com in 2017. "And without him, there would be nothing right now without Howard."

Is there hope for a reconciliation?

Artie Lange and Howard Stern's falling out has left many fans wondering whether these two will ever bury the hatchet — but there may be some reason to hope against hope.

At the time of this writing, this famous comedy duo last saw one another in person in 2012, while visiting their colleague, Robin Quivers, in the hospital amid her cancer battle. "At the end, [Stern] gave me a big hug and he said, 'Congrats on the [The Nick & Artie Show],'" Lange told Rolling Stone, saying their by-chance meeting felt like old times. "I said 'Thanks' and 'I'll talk to you soon' or whatever. And then I gave him a big hug. That was it." 

Stern and Lange left things on good terms back then, but as the latter told NJ.com, "Like any other friendship, they ebb and flow, but right now it's a big ebb." So, is there hope for a reconciliation? Well, if you ask Lange, it's unfortunately difficult to say. "The connection I have with Howard is insane," he said on The Dopey podcast. "But he got wrapped up in the 'Artie Lange Hurricane of Self-Destruction,' and that's how it ends: it ends like this."