Doug Stanhope, as the title of his new DVD and tour suggests, may not be the happiest man alive. He carries on the long tradition of American comedians who aren’t afraid to speak their mind; Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and Bill Hicks spring to mind
Indeed, at times on Before Turning the Gun on Himself, in full-on rant mode he is very reminiscent of Hicks. However, whilst Doug Stanhope’s attitude and social commentary runs along similar lines, his delivery is something else.
What Stanhope does, is that he takes everything to another level, and that’s what is so kinetic about his comedy. The audience may be on his side throughout his set, but you can often hear the uncertainly in their laughter. He does not play up to his fans. As the audio during the credits attests, he treads a dangerous line between love and hate. It’s not what he’s saying particularly, but the way he says it. His routine is very much more personal than many comedians, tackling many subjects such as addiction, celebrity doctors, children, religion and artists. As someone who hates political correctness and our whole “precious” liberal society, I still found myself wondering if I should feel offended or uncomfortable by some of the material. Again, it’s not what he says so much but the way that he says it.
I’ve clearly not dealt with the important bit yet; is it funny? Well, at times it is very funny. After a long preamble, lines such as ”Have you ever considered registering as a sex offender, just so you have a legitimate excuse for why your friends can’t bring their stupid children over to your house?” really hit the mark. Indeed, at its best, you’ll find yourself in hysterics whilst wondering whether you should feel guilty about laughing.
There are sadly few comedians around today like Stanhope who combine being incredibly angry with not being scared to speak their minds. I’m not sure how well his act will go down in the UK, but he is certainly much better than most comedians working today. And whilst the DVD is well-worth a purchase, I would say that it’s likely to reach a whole new level live.
You can catch him on
Friday 16th March – St Georges Concert Hall – Bradford
Saturday 17th March – Winding Wheel – Chesterﬁeld
Tuesday 17th April – Engine Shed – Lincoln
The DVD is released by Roadrunner Comedy on 12th March