If you don’t know Doug Stanhope, his material ranges from true-life graphic perversion to volatile social criticism. Doug is vulgar, opinionated, brutally honest, shockingly uninhibited, and he is certainly not for everyone. But Doug’s done it all—he hosted The Man Show on Comedy Central, as well as Girls Gone Wild. He’s appeared on The Howard Stern Show, Comedy Central Presents, Comedy Central’s Premium Blend, NBC’s Late Friday, Spy TV, Jerry Springer, and while on ecstacy, Doug wrote, produced, and starred in Fox’s Invasion of the Hidden Cameras.
Yet, his live performances cannot compare to anything he’s ever done on television. He’s a two-time winner of Time Out New York’s ‘Best Comedy Performance of the Year’. Doug has performed in all of the major comedy festivals, including: Montreal Just For Laughs, Aspen U.S. Comedy Arts, Chicago Comedy Festival, and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland, where he won the Strathmore Press Award for ‘Best Act of the Fringe’ in his debut year.
Doug Stanhope might be the most important stand up working today.
The Doug Stanhope interview is unlike any other. It took place amongst his traveling entourage—and Doug travels like a rock star. In a blue and white checkered suit, he sat alongside his girlfriend, Bingo, who was garbed in a bright yellow summer gown, complimenting her turquoise and royal blue colored hair. Doug’s road manager, Greg, rocked a solid cardinal red button up shirt and pants, sporting a soul patch goatee with his frizzy and stringy hair. Doug’s opener, Junior Stopka, with dark, long hair, had a grungy, bass player type look in his black t-shirt and jeans. And lastly, there was Whiskey Brother, Rob Mungle, in a white button up and black slacks, who aside from a comedian, could easily pass for a magician.
Rather than playing the entire weekend, Doug decided to roll into town on a Tuesday night. And with a cult following and a die hard fan base, Doug completely sold the place out. The atmosphere was electric. Like being at a rock concert—but at the Improv comedy club. It was an honorable opportunity to hang with Doug and talk about stand up comedy. And when he wasn’t talking comedy, him and his crew took every chance they could get to bust my balls and crack jokes at my expense. And now, you too, can join in on the amusement. Enjoy.
First of all, who is everybody?
Girlfriend: I’m Bingo! [blows a kiss] muah!
Opener: I’m Junior Stopka
Road Manager: Name’s Greg
Doug’s Biggest Fan: Jackin’ Dino
Doug: He’s not a big fan. Jackin’ Dino is a guy that’s fuckin bitter and hateful because he knows he’s actually funnier than me…but he has the social skills of a retard. And it makes him a fuckin bitter man. And anytime a hot chick tries to talk to me, he tries to fuck it up.
[Jackin’ Dino shakes his head at Doug]
Doug: [to Jackin’ Dino] I said you’re funnier than me! And you’re fucking frowning!
Doug: [to me] Got a light?
Me: Eh…I don’t smoke…
Doug: [sighs and shakes his head] All right, so what is this…what are we talkin about here?
Well, what does it take to be funny at your level? You’re a comedian of 23 years. Talking to you about comedy is like a two year old talking to a twenty-three year old about life…
Well, you’re saying that in a very self-effacing way. Where…what you don’t understand is…you being a two year old to my twenty-three year old is…I dunno how to be a fuckin two year old anymore. So, how are YOU gonna be funny TODAY? I have no idea. ‘Cause it’s a whole different landscape. What was funny to me twenty-three years ago is not really funny anymore…’cause comedy builds on itself. So you have a whole new…uh, ya know…tablet of people to learn from that are funnier than the guys that were alive when I was your age.
So…you’re askin the wrong guy. Ask the guy that’s two years more funny than you, for advice. He can tell you. When fuckin Kyle Cease was doin comedy classes with Louie Anderson…what’s Louie Anderson gonna tell you when you ask him, “How do I get out there?” He’d say, “Well, you send a VHS tape to Bud Freidman at the Improv…” You gonna take that advice? [laughs] It’s irrelevant now.
You always come to town on a random weekday, in this case, a Tuesday—and it completely sells out. Why not spend the weekend here?
Because I have enough fans to sell out this place once. So rather than play this place for six or seven shows from Thursday through Sunday, where I have, ya know, [laughs] forty people that like me in every audience, you do ONE show where everyone knows what their into, and there’s not any bachelorette parties! [laughs] And then you drive to fuckin Broussard, Louisiana [laughs] and you fuck with them and burn a bridge. [everybody laughs]
How do you gauge success in stand up comedy? Can you?
No! Do people tell you you’re funny? Like, do people around you in your everyday life go, “Fuck! You should do comedy!” [laughs] But again, there’s no rules. There’s alotta guys—fuckin Sean Rouse is never funny in real life! [everybody laughs] All right…he’s slightly funny. [more laughs] Sean Rouse will tell me a bit before he does it that night, and I’m like, “I don’t even get it…” Then ya see him [snaps his fingers] do it. Where he puts the nuance of Sean Rouse on it. And then I’m like, “Ohhh fuck! And I told him not to do it!”
Sean is probably the best, like…I dunno how you… In boxing terminology, they say “Pound for Pound”. Pound for pound, Sean Rouse is probably my favorite comic of my generation. And he’s not necessarily funny just hangin around him. He’s more fuckin sad [everyone laughs] and…and terminal—literally! [more laughs] He’s NOT the life of the party—he’s the death of the party! [intense moment of laughter] Like, “I’d like to hang out with you and finger your friend, but my friend Sean Rouse just took ANOTHER header into the carpet! [continuous laughter] And he’s goin up on stage tomorrow night with fuckin WEAPING SCABS on his forehead! [even more laughter] BUT—he’ll have a fuckin GREAT five minutes ABOUT the weaping scabs—and you know it’s new ‘cause the scabs are currently weaping!
[moment of laughter]
How’d you get into comedy?
Ahh ya start doin it like karaoke, and then ya get a fuckin ten dollar gig and people clap for you, and then some fuckin stripper—from NOT the good strip club, she’s from fuckin…Larry’s Villa [everybody laughs] in North Vegas—and she fucked you ‘cause she thought you were funny, so ya keep doin it…and then ya get a fifty dollar gig, and then you get a house MC job, and then you’re like, “Holy shit! I can do this for a living!” And then it’s like, “What else am I gonna do?”
[Junior Stopka chimes in with sarcasm] Will you ask, “How do you come up with material?” [everybody laughs] Or, “How long you been doin comedy?” [more laughter] Or, “Hey! Who’s your biggest influence??” [continuous laughter] Or how about—
[Doug interrupts] All right, all right…stop bustin his balls.
[long awkward silence]
…Yeah…okay, influences. Let’s talk about that.
[the room gets silent, and then breaks out in laughter]
Doug: All right, go back to bustin his balls… [everybody laughs] What do you mean influences?? Who are YOUR influences?
Well there’s you—
No no no, you can’t say me—
Bingo: [points to my press pass] Hey wait a minute, he has a laminate! He has a fuckin laminate!
Doug: Oh Jesus! Good spot! He has his own press pass! [laughs] He’s like, “I’m from THIS!” He has his own backstage pass…to nothing! [everybody laughs] And he wears it! That’s fuckin hilarious! [continuous laughter]
Doug: You are gonna look back at yourself, if you have any fuckin balls—if you’re any good—you will look back at this day and go, “Oh my God! I can’t believe I wore my own back stage pass to my own podcast!” [more laughter] Podcast? What is this anyway? I’m talking into a fuckin dicktophone—and I don’t even know what it’s for! What is this?? [even more laughter]
It’s an interview that’ll be published on—
Doug: ‘Cause that’s THE thing! Instead of listening to a podcast, people would prefer to READ it! [everybody laughs] Will people be able to read my studder?? [more laughs] Do you do these as Podcast-Books-On-Tape? [more laughter] That’s great…Podcast-Books-On-Tape! New, from the laminate guy in Houston! [moment of laughter]
[Junior starts to ask another sarcastic question]
Doug: Junior, don’t…wait—he has to answer the REAL question: WHY ARE YOU WEARING A BACKSTAGE PASS for whatever we’re talking about?? [laughs]
Well, I’ve been coming to the Improv every weekend for these interviews for over a year. But they still ask me for my credentials.
Doug: Wait…that’s…actually genius! That means THE STAFF is dumber than you! [everybody laughs] You’re like, “If I wear a back stage pass, the door guy is gonna go, ‘Ohh, he has a laminated thing around his neck! He must be important!’” So you just turned from rediculous to brilliant! Good work! [more laughter]
Doug: Point being…the only artistry I truly enjoy wholeheartedly is…con artistry. [moment of laughter] And it really is an art form. [laughs] You’re like, “I’ll just put a fuckin laminated thing around my neck and The Improv goes, ‘Oh! He’s good!’” [everybody laughs]
Greg: And time to wrap it up…
Okay Doug, what’s the best advice you can leave us with?
The best advice I ever got was from Joey Scazzola. He said, “Don’t ever give advice ‘cause you’re just telling people how to be more like YOU.” Which is absoletly true. I would have told Dane Cook to fuckin give it up, you’ll never make it, you should sell shoes, you stink! [moment of laughter] Because it’s not my kind of comedy…
But the best advice is to not give advice—unless the person can hear what they wanna hear. I’ve told the WORST COMICS advice through the press, like, “Stick with it! Send out your tape! Be ambitious! Go up on stage anywhere you can go!” But…99% of aspiring comics SUCK SHIT! [moment of laughter] So you’re telling people who SUCK SHIT to keep fuckin clogging up open mic nights! [more laughter]
If no one’s telling you that you’re funny, and no one’s laughin, and you fuckin stink…then go be the funniest guy at Wal Mart. Because, that’s more important. If you really think you’re funny, and you’re not making a difference on stage—they don’t need it on stage—they need it at their day job. Go to your day job, where everyone’s fuckin miserable and make ‘em laugh for free.
In a fuckin, Mother Teresa way, [everybody laughs] go make people laugh for free! Be funny around Subway—while the line’s backed up ‘n everyone else is cranky. Just be nice in general and go, “Hey you’re doin a great job! You have a beautiful smile!” Do it on stage, and you’re a paid whore. Do it for free, and you’re a decent human being who’s gonna change the world quicker than we will as paid comics. Good night!
Interviewed & Written by: DAVID GAVRI