Lange revealed to “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross that he was arrested at the age of 17 when a prank went too far. According to NPR, Lange was inspired by the Woody Allen film “Take the Money and Run,” and decided to try a fake bank robbery note as a way to get a female bank teller’s attention. Lange walked in and handed the note to her, which read, “I have a gun. Put $50,000 into a bag, turn around and count to a thousand. Act natural, no, act casual. Thank you for your cooperation, Artie Lange Jr.” Convincing the judge in court after his arrest that it was a prank, his charges were reduced to disorderly conduct, and Lange was fined $500 and assigned community service.

A rising star, Lange earned his way onto the cast of the sketch comedy television show “MAD TV” in 1995. But before the second season was completed in 1996, Lange was fired after an arrest for cocaine possession (per EN News). The Smoking Gun shows a court document that outlines Lange’s arrest for the offense. His 1997 conviction garnered two years’ probation. 

Not deterred by being released from a popular TV show, Lange had his career revived by fellow comedian Norm MacDonald. MacDonald got Lange cast as his co-star in the 1998 comedy “Dirty Work,” directed by the late Bob Saget, which led to his being hired for MacDonald’s subsequent sitcom “The Norm Show,” for which Lange acted for the second and third season.