Doug Stanhope is seemingly afraid of nothing.
Certainly not death. Most definitely not offending anyone’s sensibilities.
Showtime premieres the video version tonight of his most recently recorded hour, “Before Turning the Gun On Himself” (Roadrunner Records), with rebroadcasts throughout August 2012 on Showtime’s various pay-movie channels. Even when he starts off by claiming that the late Mitch Hedberg loved being a drug addict up until the moment he died from it — wherein Stanhope briefly hopes that Hedberg’s parents aren’t listening, before proceeding to mock their decision to host a charity golf tournament to support a rehab facility.
He’s in better spirits and finer form than his previous effort, Oslo: Burning the Bridge to Nowhere. Well, better spirits is all relative, isn’t it?
Stanhope would rather support Charlie Sheen’s craziness than Dr. Drew’s hypocritic efforts to rehabilitate such celebrity “clients” — as he rants in track #2 on the disc ,”Dr. Drew is to Medicine What David Blaine is to Magic.” You can listen here:
Stanhope then takes on the whole practice of Alcoholics Anonymous, comparing it to a cult that doesn’t work because it relies to heavily on god. After growing up in the program (he says he did his school homework in the back of the rooms while his mother was recovering), he maintains that alcoholism isn’t a disease at all; once you have detoxed medically and recovered physically, all that’s left, he says, is a choice: To drink or not to drink. There is no God.
Of course, I’m paraphrasing.
He does, however, target himself early and often in this hourlong performance. He looks in the mirror and wonders if it has added too many years, too many extra pounds. His piss stinks. That’s the title of another track. And when an acquaintance asks him how the road is treating him, Stanhope answers with personal details about his health, when all the friend wanted to know was how the business side of his road gigs were faring.
So it’s not all preaching to the chaotic choir.
He feels sorry for prostitutes in our global recession. He doesn’t feel sorry for families who gambled away their life savings by having multiple children in this economy. He defends using the word “faggot” because he supports homosexuality and doesn’t mean it that way, as well as using “nigger” because he only uses that word when he believes it’s appropriate. And don’t get him started about art and artists. Stanhope delights in being contrarian, then arguing his viewpoint and making you feel like you’ve been wrong all along.
“I used to have social relevance,” Stanhope laments late in the hour, feeling as though he has made “11 good points” during his career. But the “revolution” he was hoping for never surfaced.
Spoiler alert: Despite the title of his CD/DVD as well as his final track “Killer Closer,” and despite playing a suicidal comedian in a memorably great episode of FX’s Louie last year, Stanhope isn’t about to turn the gun literally on himself. Hopefully he’ll keep refining his arguments and stepping up onto his soapbox for many years to come, or at least until society starts paying attention to what he has to say.
The live companion CD/DVD will be available Nov. 6, 2012.
You already can buy Doug Stanhope’s “Before Turning the Gun on Himself” on iTunes, though. Just click the button!
Stanhope launches his “Big Stink” stand-up comedy tour next week. Here are the dates and opening acts…
Tour Dates With Carlos Valencia and Junior Stopka:
8/7/2012 Lindsay Street Hall Chattanooga, TN
8/8/2012 Relix Variety Theatre Knoxville, TN
8/9/2012 The Orange Peel Asheville, NC
8/10/2012 Music Farm Charleston, SC
8/11/2012 Neighborhood Theatre Charlotte, NC
8/12/2012 Lincoln Theatre Raleigh, NC
8/14/2012 The Worm Hole Savannah, GA
8/15/2012 The Underbelly Jacksonville, FL
8/16/2012 Orlando Improv Orlando, FL
8/18/2012 Culture Room Fort Lauderdale, FL
8/19/2012 Tampa Improv Tampa, FL
8/21/2012 Georgia Theatre Athens, GA
8/22/2012 Handle Bar Pensacola, FL
8/23/2012 One Eyed Jacks New Orleans, LA
8/24/2012 Zydeco Birmingham, AL
8/25/2012 Relapse Theatre Atlanta, GA
Tour Dates With are Brett Erickson and Geoff Tate:
9/12/12 Jukebox Comedy Club Peoria, IL
9/13/12 Sinking Ship Indianapolis, IN
9/14/12 Woodlands Tavern Columbus, OH
9/15/12 The Token Lounge Detroit, MI
9/16/12 Cleveland Improv Cleveland, OH
9/20/12 Skyline Comedy Café Appleton, WI
9/26/12 Boonies Bar Sioux Falls, SD
9/30/12 Improv Kansas City Kansas City, MO
Additional Tour Date:
11/17/2012 Wilbur Theatre Boston, MA