If you recognize Doug Stanhope, you probably know him from the later seasons of The Man Show, where he played Coy Duke to Joe Rogan’s Vance. But that, my dear people, was hardly a glance into the world of Stanhope. His stand-up finds him teetering on the brink among several forms of utter oblivion. He stares down the evils of narrow-mindedness wherever they may lurk, attacking any and everything you might hold sacred, find wholesome, or think is just plain good.
In spite of his ubiquitous vulgarity, his profane humor, and his relentless vendetta against your favorite traditions, Doug is a good guy. Not only that, but he’s damn smart, too. His comedy is laced with serious commentary, astute observations, and blistering critique. His penchant for the perverse often hides this side of his work, but trust me, you’d have to get up pretty early in the morning. . .
In the midst of all of this obscenity, intellect, and outright venom, though, you get the feeling that Doug is on your side, fighting the big, ugly system right along with you. As he says, “To err is not only human, it’s revolutionary.”
Roy Christopher: Well, this being my first postelection interview, I figure we ought to get into that. I know you’re pissed, but what can we do?
Doug Stanhope: Oh, I’m not pissed anymore. You see, I won $800 at roulette in Shreveport this week. And I just booked a gig at a women’s prison. Then I go to Costa Rica for a couple weeks. I only really get pissed when I’m doing nothing — or nothing that I enjoy — and start living vicariously through CNN. Powermongers will always rise to the top so long as people have a desire to be lead, and the world will always turn its back to all that is unfair, so long as the majority are unaffected.
The illusion that we have any more than a lottery ticket-holder’s part in changing the big picture simply by voting distracts from all the difference we can make on a personal level, even by just cutting a sucker an even break.
RC: Okay, let’s not mess around here, Doug, you’re a smart guy. Do you ever think that your association with The Man Show or Girls Gone Wild betrays the intelligence of your comedy?
DS: Yep. But I didn’t do it for the comedy. I did it for the experience. Sure, the money was good, but I’ve done equally dubious things for nothing but the story. I did Jerry Springer in its heyday — a completely invented story — just because it was amusing. I did comedy on a tour bus to an Indian casino as a goof. I made out with Brett Erickson in a bar in Louisiana this week — deep, plunging tongue kisses — just to annoy dangerous military rednecks that didn’t like The Man Show.
Selling out includes not doing something you’d enjoy, on whatever level, just because of what someone else might think. Maybe you’ve betrayed yourself for thinking I was intelligent.
RC: Maybe I have. How’d you get into doing stand-up anyway?
DS: I was living in Vegas and thought I was funny. I wrote five minutes of jack-off jokes and went to a local bar that had an open mic. Now — fourteen years later — I have a world of jack-off jokes. Only in America.
RC: Who do you like doing stand-up these days?
DS: Guys you wouldn’t know — Dave Attell, Mitch Hedberg, and, of course, Joe Rogan you probably know, but there’s also a whole world of unknowns who never get heard: Andy Andrist, Sean Rouse, Brendon Walsh, Brett Erickson, Brian Holtzman, Lonnie Bruhn are all guys who are brilliant but who knows if they’ll ever be known beyond XM Radio — and only then if they get their shit on CD.
RC: What are you reading lately? Any recommendations?
RC: What’s coming up for Doug Stanhope?
DS: I’m debating between defecting to Costa Rica or running in 2008. In the meantime, there’s always smoke being blown up your ass here in LA about some television project or another. The road pays the bills but too much of it just makes me hate comedy and humanity equally. If I could keep focus for more than two minutes, I’d write a book. Or maybe do a show on satellite radio. I’d really like to go to Massachusetts and gay-marry Gary Coleman, although I don’t actually know him. It’d really be funny, though.