Mark Nelson's comedy hero: Doug Stanhope
One charmingly profane comic praises another
Naturally being Scottish, I have always regarded Billy Connolly as an inspiration and probably the inventor of modern stand-up. Growing up I always loved Jack Dee and Frank Skinner and now as a comedian myself there are comics I work with whom I constantly look up to: Frankie Boyle, Jimmy Carr, Tom Stade, Jim Jefferies.
However, there is one comedian who had probably the most influence in me actually doing stand-up and who I consider to be the best in the world today. I first saw Doug Stanhope on BBC’s Live Floor Show in 2003 with ten minutes that was unlike anything I had seen before: no real structure, no real style, just a semi-drunk man spitting bile. Yet being funnier than most people will ever be in their entire careers.
After that I downloaded everything I could of Stanhope and was amazed at the blend of truly insightful, hard-hitting material and sheer filth. Stanhope can deliver horrific, jaw-dropping descriptions of depraved sexual acts yet follow it up with the most thought-provoking idea you will hear that month. I have seen him perform live five times now and I’ve never laughed more at a show than I have at his. I’m always in awe of his performance more than anything. It is a shambolic mess, he’ll dip in and out of things, completely lose his train of thought and forget the point, yet always have something to back it up.
Other stand-ups claim to be mavericks and not play by the rules. For Stanhope there are no rules. What other stand-ups have run for Presidency, recorded a DVD in a Norwegian prison or charged £8000 for one sole ticket to an Edinburgh show? Others make comedy look effortless, for Stanhope it is effortless. As he says, his act is not for everyone, but if it is for you then you will love every minute.
Highlight, Glasgow, Sat 22 Oct; The Stand, Glasgow, Thu 3–Sat 5, Mon 7 Nov. Tickets are available for Nelson’s Glasgow International Comedy Festival show in March on Ticketsoup.com.