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Doug Stanhope – Manchester Dancehouse Theatre 24.09.08
By Ste Connor
Freshers week, don’t you just love it? Whilst availing ourselves of a pre-show snifter in a nearby bar, in traipse 20 + of the greater spotted “studenti zanyus twatti” in, get this, nightwear!! Kerrrazzeee mofo’s that they are, darn near put me off me Chinese milk stout. Anyways, enough already with the prelim’s - make wit da review, I hear you call in unison (all 14 of you). So it was onto the Dancehouse Theatre (no, me neither) situated opposite that great bastion of free media, da Beeb.
Seats in the 5th row from the front afforded us the somewhat dubious pleasure of up close & poi-sonal views of support act Louis Cipher – what a tattifilarious rib tickler of a moniker for a “comedian”, eh? – suffice to say he was Carlo Nash. In summation - he wore black!! Wooh! He was from Yorkshire! Bah gum! He liked heavy metal!! Ooh! He looked uncannily like Meat Loaf in the video for the utterly abhorrent “I’d Do Anything For Lunch”!! Chubby!! He did a skit version of an S Club 7 song about when a couple of them got caught chonging sometime in the last century! Topical! He swored a lot! Controversial!! Finally, he told a tall tale about nearly defecating in the snoozing grid of an ex-girlfriend! Fibber!!
And that was about it really, Brian Conley would’ve appeared hysterically funny after sitting through Mr Cipher’s act, so Dougy boy had nish to lose – in fact the highlight of S.A.Tan’s set was hearing the posh student tosser in front of us, whose daddy probably owned Lincolnshire waxing lyrical about some gaff he’d found that did a 12 item breakfast with a pint of tea for a deuce – surely the most baulk inducing proposition since Iceland’s “Chicken Tikka Lasagne” for an Alan Whicker? After a pleasantly diverting break during which the stage was swabbed clean of Derek Evil’s plentiful perspiration & Morphine were played much to the delight of well, me at the very least; on shambled Douglas looking every inch the unslinky vagabond in dinner jacket, wing collar shirt (undone at front & at cuffs natch), what disturbingly looked like sponk stained grey shorts & white Converse basey boots ensemble, with accessories by Budweiser.
For those amongst you who may not be aware of who Doug Stanhope is, he is as numerous lazy hacks have pronounced the latest in a long line of great American comedians/social commentators that runs from Lenny Bruce to George Carlin to Richard Pryor to Sam Kinison to Bill Hicks – all of which then ironically makes me a plagiarising, amateur, wannabe lazy hack; ho hum. But anyway, he likes his bevvy does Doug - his unique slurred, stuttering, delivery that’s littered with pauses is testament to that fact.
But crucially, the man is hilarious – scabrously so, even more so than say Hick’s whom Stanhope is often compared to - as he himself states he “gets to sue the Hicks estate” if he gets it once more. Whereas Hick’s was prone to describe himself as a misanthropic humanist, the best description of Stanhope would be a drunken, nihilistic, sociopathic misanthrope & therefore the only justifiable wearer of the Swine Patron Saint of Comedy Crown, were such a title to exist. Religion, relationships, politics, sex, internet bloggers, terrorism, drinking, Scandinavian women, suicide, mental illness, Guardian reviewers, drugs, Sarah Palin – Stanhope takes them all as starting points before viciously ripping most of them to shreds during the course of his 90+ minutes on stage – in fact the only ones he didn’t rip were drugs and Scandinavian women although he did slide into a Patrick Bateman-esque fantasy rant that involved the kidnapping, hog tieing & electrocution of them.
No one since the much loved & greatly missed George Carlin has a stand up been so adept at linking the “big” & “small” themes that blight us on a daily basis with Stanhope equally exasperated by them all. He gets in a dig against “the bootleggers” filming his gigs on mobile phones – because they “make me look shit cos you miss the set up or the end or the punchline, or you take it out of context & the sound’s shit – so please if you want to share it with your friends that’s cool, but just don’t put it on fuckin’ Youtube.” The Sarah Palin bit that The Guardian reviewer clearly got into a bit of a lather about bit is quite possibly the funniest yet most offensive 5 minutes of comedy I’ve ever heard in my life, and I’ve seen Chubby Brown - pouring vitriolic scorn on her & containing a line about Ms Palin’s genitalia “taking more punishment than the Viet-cong inflicted on John McCain’s upper torso in the early 70’s” during the birth of one of her progeny, I’ll leave you to guess which one that could possibly be.
One daft lass who dared to attempt a heckle during the aforementioned bit only increased Doug’s ire & succeeded in cranking up the Offence-ometer & therefore hilarity level to 11 with his retort. He also introduced us to a new drug cocktail that he & his friends have been experimenting with - Mocaine, which is ground up mushrooms mixed with, well, you fill in the blanks. Apparently tis a most invigorating concoction but on the downside it tastes like the contents of Rik Waller’s undercrackers now from when he was on Celebrity Fit Club. And then as quickly as he’d stumbled on he was gone – off to “whore merch in the lobby” although we decided not to hang about and mix with the assembled trustafarian hoi polloi in the hope of making a complete twunt of ourselves in front of Dougy so off we trundled into the night with jaws feeling akin to a Monday morning in 1991 after a weekend of brown biscuit bombardment.
There’s my “pro bono view” – but there’s numerous CD’s, DVD’s & Youtube clips available including his excellent More 4 special on immigration “Doug Stanhope Go Home” – seek & ye shall find, unless you’re easily offended, in which case what in the name of blazes are you doing reading Swine?
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