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The Best Stand-up Routine of the 21st Century! A must buy!
on August 23, 2004
For those of you have never heard Doug Stanhope perform his material, there are two things you need to know: No. 1, Stanhope is a comic genuis. I'll tell why in a minute. He's also likely to offend just about everybody in the audience at one time or another. That said, I would recommend this DVD to anybody in the country who is into comedy, politics or the human condition.
On "Deadbeat Hero," Stanhope tackles all of the most relevant and controversial issues of our times: Abortion, "liberty," war, whether blindly supporting the troops is a good thing, the drug war, the Alabama-Mississippi ban on dildos and other sex toys, gay marriage and priest molestations. More bizarre topics include two-head babies, his suicidal cat-lady mother, an erotic story about a woman with 44 holes instead of the standard three, and the "rules of war." Stanhope also relates the time he performed for the Benefit for Fallen Officers, argues whether democracy is a flawed theorty and then provides a convincing argument as to why this is far from being a free country.
That's an awful lot of issues to deal with in one comic routine. In fact, it's mind-staggering. But Stanhope does it with the ease of rapping with friends while drinking a beer. To make that type of material consistently funny is next to impossible.
As an entertainment writer, I have known Stanhope since 1995. He was just reaching the point where his three-year journey living in his car while traveling from gig to gig was coming to an end.
The first time I saw him, I was laughing so hard my stomach began to hurt and I had trouble catching my breath. Not just once either. Many times. He wore a $10 suit and pants outfit that he bought earlier in the day at the Salvation Army.
I have seen Stanhope live numerous times since then. More than a dozen, I would guess.
What makes Stanhope truly a comic genius is that he is not afraid to try new things. In fact, the person he is forces him to write new material. Most comedians, even very good ones, will keep at least 15-30 minutes of material that works in their act for years. It's very difficult to write a 45-minute routine of solid material. Heck, it's hard to write for five minutes. Did I mention that Stanhope's "Deadbeat Hero" is a staggering 95 minutes?? And there's nary a slow spot in the act. It goes very quickly.
When I first saw Stanhope, he was mainly an auto-biographical comedian. He lived a very non-mainstream type of life that provided much food for fodder when it came to writing material. And he has always been capable of writing even bad experiences in a funny way. And his delivery, slow, yet confident with a baby-boy face that used to make some of his more "shocking" jokes go over. His baby-face has grown a little harder though over the years.
And now Stanhope has an entirely new act. There isn't one joke or bit from the first time I saw him. And his early 1995-96 routines were filled with brilliant bits. Any comedian who wants to see how to put together a routine on a difficult subject, or any fan of comedy, needs to listen to Stanhope's five- to seven-minute bit about the tragic flight of (Cant' remember plane's number) back east about seven or eight years ago. Stanhope still considers it his favorite bit.
But he's let them all go as he constantly works on improving and changing his act. That's also why I've seen Doug suck a few times on stage too. When you try new material, some of it's going to bomb no matter how good you are. Michael Jordan missed wide open jump shots. It happens.
But therein lies Stanhope's genius. A self-called road warrior, Stanhope prides himself in being one of the best stand-up comedians in the country. He's not interested in being on TV other than it pays well, he gets more recognition which in turns means he gets a little more when performs live. Don't ask him if he's "made it" because he was on "The Man Show." The way he sees it, he made it years ago.
In his early years, most of his material, exceptions being the TWA bit, was auto-biographical. He spoke of having sex with transvestite midget hookers and other things that escape me at the moment.
On "Deadbeat Hero," Stanhope tackles the most difficult issues: What society is dealing with now. I never cease to be amazed at how he comes up with such brilliant and funny comments about recent events. Regardless of what you may think of his material, and some of you will be offended, the man needs to be respected for his willingness to constantly evolve and try something new. He speaks from his heart. I know for a fact that 90 percent of what he tells you on stage about himself is basically true.
"Deadbeat Hero" is a relevant DVD in much the same way that Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" is. Stanhope has well-thought out points and he expresses them beautifully.
I laughed very hard at times watching this DVD and at other times I just listened and said, "Yes, Doug, you're so right!" So in some ways, it's not as consistently funny as some of his older auto-biographical material.
But it's so much more important. This is a socially relevant DVD (it also comes with a free CD of the concert) that all teens and adults should see. Any fan of comedy must see Stanhope, who is simply at his best here.
And the cinematography gives it an underground feel, which is appropriate since the concert was filmed at the Comedy Underground in Seattle.
The CD also includes five street rants by Stanhope backed by his buddy Banjo Randy. Very funny and he makes solid points.
And as if Stanhope doesn't reveal enough of his true self, both "good" and "bad," during his routines, he includes an extra feature called "Behind the Mullet." When I met him, he had a mullet. Of course, so did I.
This shows about five to 10 minutes of Stanhope when he was young, as young as 17, until about 26 or 27. It's amazing to watch the young Stanhope and see that even then, he possessed his unique way of talking to people and making them smile, understand or walk out in rage.
This is an absolute must-have for anyone who watches comedy on DVD or listens to it on CD.
I would compare him to Lenny Bruce or Bill Hicks, but that wouldn't be fare to Bruce, Hicks or Stanhope. He's good enough that he's his own man. And some day some other young comic will unfairly be compared to Stanhope.
In the meantime, buy this DVD. A true must-have.
P.S. There's an abortion bit in here that will make most people cringe and think, "Did he really say that?" Yes, he did, because he's the Great White Stanhope