*Update: Check out Doug’s recent Huffington Post interview above.
Usually comics will refer to the unsung hero stand-up as “a comedian’s comedian”. Well, Doug Stanhope, through his refreshingly caustic blend of political comedy and degenerate charm, is a comedian’s comedian’s comedian. I recently spoke with Doug about to find out more about his feelings on Osama bin Laden, giving other comics advice and his horror stories from road.
Aroundphilly: How much of your on-stage persona is part of your actual personality?
Dough Stanhope: I don’t know how I grew into this dishevelled monster that you see before you. I don’t really try to pattern my style after anyone that I’m aware of.
AP: So, it just is what it is?
DS: Yeah. I’ve just become a more miserable human being as the years go on.
AP: What comedians first got you interested in doing comedy?
DS: At the time I started it was like the peak of Andrew Dice Clay. I was doing telemarketing at the time and I was quoting Dice Clay bits around the office and my boss asked me if I wanted to open for his band. I told him it wasn’t my material but just knowing that I could get a gig if I had my own material- that was kind of a catalyst to write my own shit.
AP: What comedians, if any, do you follow nowadays?
DS: I don’t see much comedy anymore ‘cause I live in Bisbee, AZ. It’s sort of a small town with 6,000 people so there’s obviously no comedy there. But, Dave Attell is always great. Louis CK is always fantastic, but I just don’t see enough of it. I rarely go to comedy clubs.
AP: I actually saw something about Louis CK’s show on your Facebook page. Are you making an appearance on his show?
DS: Yeh, I’m filming that in a couple weeks. I don’t have a large resume for acting so hopefully I’ll be on Louis’ show.
AP: Are there any comedians out there that you despise?
DS: No. You know back in the days when I was living in LA- I’ve spent most of my life in comedy clubs, you found the people who annoyed the fuck out of you. But again, not being in that world, I kind of miss that spiteful, back of the room, backstabbing, nay-saying (laughter). But yeah, I’m too old to be bothered by shitty comics.
AP: Most people would describe your act as abrasive- do different cities react differently to your act? How does Philly fare compared with cities like San Franscisco?
DS: Philly is about as hardcore as you can get. But the people that come to my show live everywhere- in the fuckin’ cracks and underneath dumpsters. My audience seeps in from the woodwork wherever I am, but it’s easier to find them in Philly (laughter). When I go to San Fran and they’re sipping red wine- there’s no fuckin’ heathens.
AP: I saw your comment on Osama bin Laden (“I shot Bigfoot yesterday. I ate him and dumped the remains in the lake before I could prove it. Just take my word for it. Seriously.”)- are you skeptical of his death?
DS: We should all be skeptical. The first thing you should do is question it before you pop the champagne cork. It’s ridiculous on so many levels- fuckin’ Pat Tillman. Put that up- see Pat Tillman. When Pat Tillman was killed, initially he was storming a machine gun nest or some shit and they blatantly lied about it just to up the image. And it turns out, no, actually he was killed by our own guys and we blatantly lied to you.
DS: Yeah, they’re starting a comedy branch unless I can completely fuck it up and ruin it for everyone (laughter).
AP: Do you have any advice for young comedians?
DS: No (laughter), no, not at all. The best advice I ever got- I was giving someone advice when I was just a bum at an open mic level and another comic came over and he goes, “Never give anyone advice because you’re just telling them how to be like you”. Which is true, not just in comedy but in life.
If you think of how many people that try comedy and suck at it- all the advice they tend to give like, “stick with it”, “get on stage as much as you can”, (laughter) “keep calling bookers”, most of those guys you’re telling that to stink awfully. So, what you’re telling them to do is stink up stages and never get a clue. So yeah, there’s no advice you can give.
AP: Well, I guess no advice is at least some sort of advice, right?
DS: Right. Have fun, that’s all that matter. You die at the end, you die sad and alone and horrifically so just enjoy it.
AP: What’s your worst horror story from the road?
DS: I don’t know why this sprung to mind, it’s not really a horror story but I was working in Houston with a guy named Shannon Mclaughlin. And we were similar in stature, we’re both short guys, big heads. After the show I was out selling CDs and this woman came up and started telling me how funny I was but how awful the headliner was. And she was going into great detail, thinking I was the other guy, and I was like, “Yeah, I was the headliner.” And she’s like, “No, no the last guy, he was terrible” . I go, “No, no, you don’t get it. I was the last guy”. And I finally had to walk her over to where the other comic was sitting and she looked at him and looked back at me and just went absolutely fuckin’ gray. But it’s okay, its funny.
Photos courtesy of DougStanhope.com.