With all of the talk at Sundance and everywhere else in the past year about how Louis CK is such a great stand-up comedian who is able to make us laugh while sometimes delving into dark and offensive territory, I thought it's about time you all took another look at comedian Doug Stanhope. Stanhope is making you confront your miserable lives and the most offensive things, too, but from the fringes of the comedy world. Why is that? And how can we change that?
How about by opening your ears and eyes to what he's doing lately. I talked to Doug Stanhope in November about where he feels his career has led him, but since then, he has started contributing regular comedy correspondent pieces for the BBC Four satire program, Newswipe. Here is his recent piece about America's late-night news and where we get our news these days, and also why he hates the topical comedy prevalent in late-night TV:
His report from last week's episode looked at how modern media turns freak shows into celebrities.
And on his new CD on Stand Up! records, "From Across The Street," Stanhope opens his 58-minute set from North Carolina's Cape Fear with a joke about how child pornography suffers, relatively speaking, from a lack of appreciation within show business, notes immediately afterward how he's not for everyone, and within a minute, is recounting how he once drowned his sorrows by mixing vodka with blueberry yogurt while reading blogger criticism of him from a hotel room in Copenhagen. Welcome to Stanhope's world. You're already living in it. You just didn't know it yet.
As he talks about his "Man Show" experience with Comedy Central, how Americans give their kids false hopes, or the scams of health care, Stanhope remains unapologetic. No regrets. He's just telling you how he feels and how he lives his life. On the 11th track, "Don't Talk to Strangers," he opens by saying:
"I'm sorry if this gets too depressing, but it gets worse. I know a lot of people come to see comedy to get away from their problems, and I don't have that kind of show. I have the kind of show that reminds you of your problems, and then I talk about other problems you didn't even know you had 'til tonight Then I dump all of my problems on top of that, and you walk out of here 10 times more depressed than when you even walked in here, and it's the only time I smile during the night, is watching you leave all sad. And that's not professional."
He then goes on to describe one of his loyal fans who waited to see Stanhope one more time before committing suicide. It may not be professional like a slick mainstream comedy club stand-up. But it is honest. And it is honestly funny. And that's Doug Stanhope. Welcome to his world. You're already living in it. Might as well open your ears and start listening.
Buy Doug Stanhope's "From Across The Street" on iTunes or Amazon: