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Sex, Drugs and Politics with Comedian Doug Stanhope

When a comedian is not afraid to say anything on stage, their crowd can get a little rambunctious. Alcohol fueled rants, hecklers and controversy are all things that gritty and smart comedian Doug Stanhope deals with on a daily basis. The former host of The Man Show and popular stand up comedian is currently on a North American tour that will bring him to Nietzsche’s this Saturday (May 22). He talked to AV this week:

You’re originally from Worcester, Massachusetts and you’re currently touring the east coast. You also have a few tour dates in Canada. How do you feel when you come to a place like Buffalo that has cheap Canadian beer?

I drink the same shitty beer no matter where I go, Miller Lite or Coors Lite. I drink weak, piss beer because I know I can drink a lot of it throughout the course of the night without fucking up my show. Although, my type of audience doesn’t really seem to give a shit if I fuck up my jokes. I don’t have to write as much new material as quickly as other comedians because 75 percent of my audience is too fucked up to remember what I did last year anyways.

George Carlin once said, “if you’re not offending someone you’re not doing your job as a comedian.” When you hear an audience member heckling you while you’re on stage, what goes through your mind?

It depends on what they’re upset about. You can offend someone because of the minutest thing. You could be talking about rape or fisting or abortion, things that on paper would be highly offensive to some parts of the audience, and then in passing you say something about diabetes and someone in the audience is offended because their grandpa just died of diabetes. The rape and suicide stuff is all great, but it’s the diabetes that gets you.

So when that happens do you look at it as a chance to riff or is it more like “shut the hell up and let me do my job?”

It’s all in the timing. If you have a seven-minute chunk of material that builds up to a pay off and they start screaming shit at five and a half minutes you’ve wasted all that time and you can’t get it back. At that point you look at it as an opportunity to just… assassinate someone’s character out of anger. It becomes more of a personal vendetta than a part of the show.

You’re not afraid to touch on subjects like child porn and pedophilia, have you ever met Chris Hanson of Dateline NBC?

No, but he’s one of those guys you watch and you just imagine a punching him in the face over and over. Like a scene in Fight Club, you know “I just wanted to destroy something beautiful”

Was there ever a time in your career that you were uncomfortable getting up on stage and doing material like that?

I guess when I was working comedy clubs, before I had my own audience and people were just coming to see whoever was on stage. One of my favorite pieces of material I ever did was about the crash of Flight 800. I was playing on Long Island, near the crash site and I kept saying “I’m not gonna do it, I’m not gonna do it,” and then as soon as I got on stage I fucking opened with it and I died miserably. I couldn’t get the audience back. It was 45 minutes of staring hatred

Which was more painful: being held “responsible” for the downfall of The Man Show or watching Too Late With Adam Carolla.

I think Adam Carolla is very funny, I see him on Howard Stern all the time and I think he’s fucking great. I didn’t mind shooting that pig in a ditch called The Man show. Unfortunately American television, unlike the BBC, doesn’t always know when to fucking quit.

You were recently on BBC’s “Newswipe” where you talked about sodomy and abortion as ways to curb overpopulation, so I know you’re an avid environmentalist. How has the oil spill in the Gulf affected your life?

My gumbo tastes like Kuwait now.

You ran for president in 2008, will you run again in 2012?

No, I’m counting on that end of the world shit. I might run if it weren’t for the Myan calendar thing. But (former Governor of New Mexico) Gary Johnson seems like he could be a candidate that could get away with some stuff. I like his liberal drug policies and his ideas about stopping government spending, but it will take something cataclysmic to actually cause some change. We’re a bunch of fat pigs. Even people who are in tough times still have 700 channels of cable and all the 99 cent value meals they can eat.

Gary Johnson is a libertarian candidate; he’s for tax reform, relaxed drug policies, freedom to bear arms. Do you own a gun?

No I don’t. I’m a responsible drunk and drug user. With a head full of alcohol and a seething Napoleon complex I should not be bearing arms. That’s just personal responsibility.

Do you think your appearances on Girls Gone Wild helped to shape your on stage persona?

(Laughs) You ball busting motherfucker. It helped me learn how to act like I didn’t mind being there, when actually I did. People talk about it like it must be some dream job. I got no pussy and did little to no drugs.  Ask any bouncer at a nightclub how much fun it is to be around drunk, stupid sorority girls at last call.

I’m a blogger and this interview will probably make it into a blog. You have a journal on your website, you regularly update your facebook and you have a twitter page. What does blogging do for you?

It gets people to visit my website and they can see when I’m playing on the road. But blogging is instant gratification. When you’re watching Chris Hanson and imagining pummeling his face in, you can just go right on Facebook and go “I want this guy dead.” I bet there are a dozen Facebook groups devoted to Chris Hanson being dead. Google that.

-cory perla

  • Mark P.

    Great interview. Good questions. He sounds like a real classy guy.

  • Cindy M,

    Insightful, well-written, and informative.