I first heard of comedian Doug Stanhope in 2000 when I was temping (fun!) at a Los Angeles talent agency that represented him (APA, I doubt they rep him now). Anyway, I heard of him because he came in with a friend and grabbed a bunch of bottled water and left. I guess he was thirsty. Anyhow, video librarian at the place told me who he was, gave me a couple of CDs to listen to (Sicko, and Something To Take the Edge Off. all the info on Doug can be found here – I’m not for doing links on every other word I type. Maybe later I’ll be at it, but I’m writing shit, not linking shit on this site. I’ll link when I feel like it.)….ANYWAY, the first thing that struck me was there was an annoying music track underneath the jokes on one of the CDs. Like some cool hip jazz mellow music. A ‘can you dig it’ sort of thing. I couldn’t dig it. The jokes were funny – Doug is funny – but the music on the CD was distracting.
So, cut to a few years later, and I recall seeing Stanhope on television – of course, why wouldn’t he be – he is funny and he works and tours hard, it seems. More recently, he has a Showtime special: Doug Stanhope: No Refunds. Not sure where it’s taped, don’t really care. I recommend watching it for several reasons – some funny bits, and a good example of the personality selling the jokes in some cases. Stanhope is one of the grumpy, know-it-all comics that tell you things suck, etc. – there’s a market for that (believe me, it’s a purposeful style: some comics do impressions, some do PG observations, and some are the angry comic; but he does it better than anyone, I suspect. I never buy that David Cross or Patton Oswalt are really angry or upset about the world/America/people/current President/whatever. And I’ve mentioned it before, but any comedian who bitches for an hour in their act can come across as a little ridiculous – you’re a comedian, dude! Chances are you are living a crazy (possibly profitable, God forbid) life doing what you’re doing – you’re not stuck in an office staring at spreadsheets, or adjusting your drive-thru headset every five minutes. So, I’m always a little suspicious of the ‘angry comic’ – especially those who have broken through to the level that Stanhope has. Can you really be that angry all the time? Chillax, all you mad comics. But, I give him full credit for having a great presentation style and material. If there’s a comic who can joke about anything, it’s probably him. Check out a bit from the No Refunds show (note: adult language alert or caution or announcement in this video).
Oh, btw, and Stanhope smokes and drinks and so will probably be dead before too long. So, if you can see him in person, do it! Then later you can say “I saw that dude when he was alive, man” and where the tribute t-shirt with pride, knowing you were in the same room. If you don’t, you can still wear the tribute shirt, but it won’t be the same. Now, if he stopped smoking, he might have good cause to be angry! But, to each his own.