Doug Stanhope: Before Turning the Gun on Himself (2012) – Review
by Dan Berlinka
Award winning US stand up comedian Doug Stanhope already has quite a following in this country. He’s familiar from appearances on 8 Out of 10 Cats and Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe, as well as numerous live performances on the UK comedy circuit.
But if you’re not familiar with his scabrous on-stage persona, this show from Salt Lake City, Utah, is not a bad introduction. Stanhope specialises in a kind of nihilistic libertarianism. Or what he at one point describes as “the crippling honesty of comedy”. Mostly it’s rage and alcohol that fuel him.
At its best his invective is funny, exhilarating and insightful. At its worst, relentlessly scatological and a touch too desperate to find a boundary that hasn’t yet been pushed. This 70 minute show includes rants on drugs (he’s for them), Alcoholics Anonymous (he’s against it), the economy, other people’s children and why he would benefit from being pictured having interracial gay sex.
“Flashes of wit and linguistic dexterity”
There are frequent flashes of wit and linguistic dexterity. Even if a few too many lines provoke more cheers than laughs. Although whether that’s the fault of the material or the whooping audience is not entirely clear.
The DVD itself is a pleasantly unfussy production. The camera stays on Stanhope. There’s no over-complicated intro and outro. If you’re a fan of comics like Bill Hicks, Louis CK and Mitch Hedberg, the latter two are both name-checked within the DVD, you’ll find a lot here to enjoy even while you’re being baited and provoked.