Doug Stanhope is a sick man: a sufferer of umbilical hernia, a surly boozer, recidivist smoker, champion of recreational drugs, former Libertarian candidate for President, rambling social satirist and stand-up veteran who's crawling out of his hole in the Arizona desert to play the Firebird on Saturday night.
He managed to call
Daily RFT as planned, but did so an hour late, thanks to an unexpected visitor...Daily RFT
: Did you say the lead singer of [trash-metal band] Exodus is coming to your house down in Bisbee, AZ?Doug Stanhope
: Yeah, he emailed a couple years ago and said he was a fan. We've swapped emails back and forth. So now [he and his girlfriend] are comin' down, I don't know if they're staying or not.
But he doesn't drink, so that's creepy.
This is one of the few sanctioned social events I'll attend where people don't drink. And we're cleaning up the house, for a fucking death metal guy. It's a death metal guy, and I'm fucking mopping the floor.You recently quit smoking. How's that going?
I'm smoking as we
speak, sir. I got one of those electronic cigarettes and it
actually works pretty well. Now I can smoke like in airports. I end up
smoking twice as much.Some of your best work, in our opinion, has been your ranting on BBC's Newswipe.
BBC knows how to do TV. They run six episodes and stop, quit while
they're ahead. They're not like American sitcoms going into their 19th
season, and they have to add a fucking alien or some random child they
had out of wedlock that appears on the scene.
How'd you get hooked up with that show?
Doug Stanhope - adored in Britain, ignored in America.
honestly don't know. Brian, my manager -- he's the Scottish guy that called you -- we have a very special
relationship. I'm the only one he
manages. He's a funny prick. He's the guy that brought me over to
Europe for the first time.
I showed up there in 2002 with full-page
articles. I had more press just stepping off the plane that he handed to
me -- before I'd ever done a show there -- than in my entire 13 years
of comedy at that point in the states.Why was that?
it was his PR skills, plus the fact that they do treat comedy like an
artform over there. They don't treat it like a Chuck E. Cheese
wastebasket for washed-up talent.
That bothers me so much. Wrestlers are now doing comedy. Everybody that's washed up - Kato Kaelin
did comedy. It's such a rubbish bin for failures. Fucking Terry
- I don't know if it's happened or it's coming, is putting
together a Vegas review. Fucking Terry Bradshaw
In Britain, they
have some respect for [comedy]. Which makes it terrifying. Because over here,
I can fuck off for a night. If I'm not in the mood, or I'm too drunk, I
tell people to fuck themselves for an hour. It's not gonna make
national news. Over there, at any given time, any national newspaper
could be in there waiting to tell the whole country you suck.That clip of you getting booed offstage in Leeds - that didn't go so well.
why I don't do gigs like that. I play rock 'n' roll clubs. It's not
like a comedy club, you don't have fucking bachelorette parties
wandering in to see the guy from Full House
. You know, people come to
see me at Firebird
, they know what they're coming to see.
for a second. [Says something to his lady friend] Sorry. We're making
hummus and pita for fucking Exodus. I wanna find out if this is the guy
that draws the dicks on all the walls in the green rooms. Musicians have to be so retarded. Ever since I started working rock 'n
roll clubs you sit in these filthy green rooms which is usually the
dumbest, most fourth grade graffiti-dicks drawn. Anyway, I don't
know what I was sayin.
British people -- and how they process you.
Oh yeah, I have a
really good following over there. But when you play a music festival -
putting comedy in a music festival is like putting a message in porn.
It's not the time or the place. Nobody wants to hear it right now.
they'll go to the comedy tent to get out of the rain. It's emptiest
place to kill 45 minutes before Faith No More
goes on, which they've
come to see.
There's no fucking passion for comedy, especially my
kind of comedy, which doesn't get to the point right away. It ain't
short-attention-span theatre. And if you're not really into it -
especially if you're there to have three days of fun and frivolity, and
I'm there spewing all sorts of fucking hate and negativity on top of
your nice 2CB ecstasy buzz. Yeah. It's gonna work poorly.
was a warm-up for London. I knew I was gonna get booed offstage. Who
gives a shit? I got booed onstage
for an extended period of time. So I
filled my contractual obligation. And then laughed like a motherfucker on
the car ride home.
One of those English newspapers saw you as continuing the tradition of legends Lenny Bruce and Bill Hicks.
Stanhope - smoking (again).
I can't get a review that doesn't mention Bill Hicks. It's annoying
because I don't think we're that similar, except for that we both talk
about social issues. He was a very staid, deliberate act.
gravelly and all over the place. Bill Hicks was in AA for the last eight
years of his life. Except for the fact that we might have similar
opinions on things, it's just lazy. Coupled with the fact that not a lot
of people that do what either of us do. There's a sad lack of
comparisons. One of the greatest things I've ever heard about you is that you tried to run for president as a libertarian.
tried. I follow politics about like I do baseball. I'll watch the world
series peripherally but the regular season - yeah midterms, I don't
give a shit. I was never a really political comic at all. I just had
some points I felt needed to be made.
But yeah, that running for
president thing was so completely un-fun, it was so much bullshit and
paperwork. And I was like, 'This isn't funny.' We did all the paperwork.
On paper, we were a legit candidate. But if you talk about your act on
stage, that's campaigning. So any money you received at the door would
be considered a campaign contribution. So it was like, 'Fuck this.'
You've posted pictures online of your umbilical hernia, which is gross. How is your belly button?
Comedy legend Bill Hicks, to whom Stanhope is often compared
haven't gotten the surgery yet....but based on that website update
some anesthesiologists that are fans in Tuscon said, 'We'll do the
anesthesia for free,' and I wrote back, 'Well that's 95 percent of the
battle. If you knock me out, I got a dry cleaner that can do the
stitching. Or that guy that does my tailoring for my thrift store
And they wrote back, 'We got friends that are surgeons
that will probably waive their fee. So they got the surgeon to waive
her fee. I'm just having to pay the hospital costs. So I'm getting that
done in December.
It's pretty gross. There's not an hour that
goes by that I don't think about it. Any time you pick up your
groceries, you go, 'Are my guts gonna come flying out when I pick up
this pack of beer?' I've seen some pictures where they go wrong and it's
pretty fucking awful.
Google-image search 'umbilical hernia,'
and you'll see
everything from mine to something that looks like babies
coming out of them. Your take on stand-up comic Greg Giraldo's
recent death -- that people should be more open about prescription drug
use -- was interesting.
I didn't know him. This is kind of a
bastardization of my joke from No Refunds
, but everyone who says, 'Yeah
he had so much left to give.' Well, how fuckin' selfish are you? He had
so left to give? Well, how about how much he had to get
? How much he had left
He had stuff to give -- that's like a credit card company saying, 'Aw, it's so sad. He had so much left to pay.'
Giraldo was hilarious. And Mitch Hedberg
[who died of an overdose] was
hilarious. And [Hedberg] was a drug enthusiast. The word 'addict' is way
too loosely used. Hedberg fucking loved drugs. He was never some
panicky guy, 'Ah, I should get help. I'm really down.' He just, non-stop,
loved fuckin' drugs. They killed him, but they didn't really ruin his
Then you see his parents doing a charity golf tournament,
to benefit a fucking rehab clinic? There was nothing Hedberg hated more
than sports. And nothing he loved more than drugs.You're kind of a drug-enthusiast yourself, no?
I do drugs very rarely. I'm just very open about when I do drugs. I do as much as most people have cocktails.
I'll do some blow. If I'm at home in the right circumstances, and the
house is clean, and we have mushrooms, occasionally I'll get high as a
kite. But if more people were open about their drug use, when it IS
social, we'll be a lot closer to legalization. And all the Mexican
violence across the border here? All you gotta do is legalization --
Do you see any of that violence down there?
An umbilical hernia. Not Doug Stanhope's.
No....we do have illegals coming through all the time.
know, the two things I'm waiting to see, because I walk my dog in the
desert every day: I've yet to see, in five years, a snake of any kind,
much less a rattlesnake. And I've yet to find an illegal corpse. Which
they find all over the place. They're as common as snakes I think.
seen these wild javelinas
which are these wild pigs, scary as shit. And
footlong centipedes that will scare the shit out of you. But never a
snake. Or a body. Is it a tall order to get people to come visit you down in Bisbee?
I'm home for a long stretch, it's like 'Come down!' You get to the
point where you miss comedy. Comics are such a unique people. Shit, I'd
pay Dane Cook
s' airfare to come down and talk about comedy. Or have that
I've trained myself here to take my sense of humor
down ten or twelve notches. You can't just openly say 'cunt' and
'nigger' and stuff. Comedy is its own creed, its own religion, its own
race. It's all about the joke when you're hanging out with comics. It's
all about funny. No one ever used any word or subject in a joke around
comics and had another comic say, 'Hey that's offensive.' Doesn't
happen.Like some other comics, you've figured out how to avoid the comedy club system.
remember the first time I realized it. I was in one of shittiest comedy
clubs in Portland, Oregon. Where the club owner would brag about the
fact that he didn't have to hire good talent -- to the talent.
such a seedy, shitty place, you felt like you should've been wearing a
nametag as the artist. You felt like a fucking employee.
If you build up a mailing list - everybody's
down on Facebook and MySpace. But it works as a marketing tool. You don't
have to fucking make friends with these people. As long as you have
direct access to your audience - I can play a fucking VFW hall. Why
should I give some fucking comedy club a major cut?
I've played a
backyard. Two hundred and fifty people, in a dude's backyard. Everybody
was polite and well-mannered, nobody trashed the place. It was in Vegas,
so the weather was nice. It was a local comic who couldn't get stage
time so usually he was doing 15 - 20 people. So we filled it. And got
But the fact is, if you put any small amount of effort
into it, you can make your own rules in this business. It used to be comedy clubs - like
St. Louis, they had two comedy clubs. Those two managers decided if
you're funny or not. That's pretty fucked up.
A lot of quality
stand-ups seem to be gravitating to the Firebird, which as you remember
from last year, is the basement of an office building.
Old-timey Doug and friend.
has a kind of fight-club feel when you're on stage. And you can still
smoke, and there are no windows. It's such a better climate. It's such a
better sense of chaos.
You know, an Improv
[comedy club] is comfortable and nice, and they're gonna try to
sell you jalapeno poppers to some minimum and they overcharge you. You
don't feel like any "improv" is gonna happen at an Improv. A guy is gonna
go up and do their set. You drop the checks at 45 minutes into the set
and you leave like a movie theatre.
You play the Firebird, you know, somebody could throw a bottle. Someone
could get punched or shot in the men's room. People talk back.
Somebody's gonna be too drunk and throw up on themselves. It's gonna be