Doug Stanhope on acting, ‘Louie’ and his deathwish list
BY MIKE THOMAS Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org September 29, 2011 6:16PM
Doug Stanhope prefers a smaller crowd when he performs. “If the money were equal, I would never play [places with] more than 100 seats.”
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday; 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: Mayne Stage theater, 1328 W. Morse
Information: (773) 381-4554; ticketweb.com
Updated: January 23, 2012 3:46AM
“Dear Jews who run show business, Please give @dougstanhope a television show.”
That’s a recent tweet from (Jewish) comedy queen Sarah Silverman, who’s apparently one of comedian Doug Stanhope’s biggest fans.
His pal Louis C.K. just gave him public props, too. In an avclub.com interview published last month, the stand-up vet and FX star lauded Stanhope for his bitingly honest portrayal of a suicidal comic named Eddie. The role was created by C.K. with Stanhope in mind for an episode of his widely acclaimed dark comedy “Louie.”
Critics were wowed as well.
But the flagrantly self-loathing Stanhope, 44, is largely unmoved. For a guy whose last name ends in “hope,” he seems to have little for much of anything. On stage and in life (or at least during interviews) he exudes an insightfully vulgar mix of bleakness, anger and despair — much of it laugh-out-loud funny, some of it wince-inducing, all of it genuine-sounding.
A handful of examples: “Life isn’t for everybody,” tradition and heritage are “dead people’s baggage,” religion represents the “retardation of human intellectual progress” and most ugly people (unlike, say, minority groups) have no social or legal recourse when they’re subjected to discrimination and scorn.
Most of those subjects are plumbed on his newest CD/DVD “Oslo — Burning the Bridge to Nowhere.” They’re also likely to surface when Stanhope appears Wednesday, possibly while drunk (the last show he remembers doing sober was in 2003) and certainly while drinking (he’s a beer guy), at the Mayne Stage Theater in Rogers Park. Intimate and thus comedy-friendly, it’s the kind of venue he loves to play.
“My show is built to be teetering on that precipice of abject failure. If the money were equal, I would never play [places with] more than 100 seats,” Stanhope said by phone from a tour stop in Wilmington, N.C. (He resides for much of the year — in an actual house, not a trailer, as C.K. described it — in the artist community and showbiz mecca of Bisbee, Ariz., near the Mexican border.) The next day he’d jet off for some much needed R&R in balmy Reykjavik, Iceland, where he was slated to entertain inmates at Litla-Hraun maximum-security prison.
Despite the praise from Silverman, C.K. and others, Stanhope is staunchly against cultivating a full-time television career. It doesn’t jibe with his stand-up sensibilities.
And, anyway, he’s been there, done that and failed miserably — most notably on Comedy Central’s “The Man Show.” He and fellow funnydude Joe Rogan took over the testosterone fest in 2003 after its original hosts, Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla, left for bigger platforms and paychecks. Almost immediately ratings began to plummet. Cancellation soon followed. Regardless, Stanhope has only fond memories of his tumultuous tenure.
“It was a piece of s---. Awful,” he said in a shredded slacker voice cultivated by years of cigarettes, booze and disgust.
“It was worth the shame and humiliation to get the lesson on how TV really works. Every idea we had that was funny got shot down and torn apart.”
Even the prospect of doing a program entirely of his creation, with no strings attached, doesn’t sit well.
“I really don’t like acting,” Stanhope said. “Doing it with Louie was great because I know him, but if I had to do that on just any Hollywood shoot I would have been f---ing retching with nausea. It’s so phony from a comedian’s perspective and what you’re used to.”
And don’t expect him to host any more “Girls Gone Wild” productions, either. Stanhope’s 2004 shilling for the sex franchise aired for far longer than he anticipated and haunts him still. The one bright spot: “GGW” founder Joe Francis.
“Absolutely by far the filthiest individual I’ve ever met in any dark alley of show business,” Stanhope said. “Just an utter f----n’ cretin.”
The adulation continues.
“I would have no problem killing him. Just looking him in the eye and killing him.”
Television therapist Drew Pinsky and HLN host Nancy Grace, “an evil, mean, awful person,” are on Stanhope’s (pretend?) death-wish list, too. In their cases, however, he’d farm out the dirty work.
Don’t get the wrong impression, though. Stanhope’s really an old softie at heart.
“I f---in’ hate kids. They’re just stupid people and they’re boring.”
Let’s hope his vasectomy holds.