DUBBED “the Voice of America” by Charlie Brooker, Doug Stanhope is a graduate of the US stand-up comedy school of hard living- outspoken, outrageous, rarely with alcohol out of his system, and often outside, having a smoke. He’s mostly rather polite in real life though, as Catriona Reeves discovered, when she rang him on his tour bus - but don’t tell. We wouldn’t want to blow his cover.
Catriona Reeves: You're currently about half way through a 38-date UK tour - how is it going?
Doug Stanhope: I’m doing well so far - only one or two major hangovers. Stoke-on-Trent was the worst one - I had some friends come to see me and stay over at the hotel. I don’t think we’ll be allowed back in that hotel.
CR: Wow, I had no idea there was so much fun to be had in Stoke.
DS: I’ve been to 15 different countries, and they all look like the inside of a bar. As long as there’s a bar, I’m happy anywhere.
CR: So are you receiving a warm welcome from UK audiences?
DS: British audiences are scary. In America, audiences are over the top and easily amused; over here they tend to be smarter and more controlled. You have to work a lot harder over here. Luckily, the Brits tend to be cynical and cranky like me, so we get on just fine.
CR: And what exactly should your cynical and cranky audiences expect from your show?
DS: I have no idea. It usually involves whatever’s been irritating me that day. I can always find something to irritate me. I switch it around every few days, but it’s always going to be the same angry, drunken, caustic, blow-hard nonsense that it’s been for the last 21 years.
There will certainly be something about Allison Pearson and the Twitter war we’ve been having [Allison Pearson is a Daily Telegraph columnist stood on the other side of political fence to Stanhope in regards to assisted suicide]. She is fully aware that I’m not going to drop it. It keeps me fired up.
CR: You certainly don’t shy away from tackling controversial issues. Do you think that you’ve got something important to say, or are you just having fun?
DS: Sometimes I’ve got something to say, but sometimes it’s just graphic smut. There’s always plenty of smut to laugh about; I don’t have to force myself too hard to find it.
CR: So, overall, you’re enjoying the tour...?
DS: I have no idea where we’re going, but usually when I come to the UK I’m stuck in Leicester Square, losing the will to live, so it’s great to see the country. We’ve been to some beautiful places - Bournemouth is stunning - but we’ve still got some s**t holes to visit, like Leeds and Liverpool.
CR: But Liverpool is the birthplace of the Beatles!
DS: I know. Henry Phillips who’s touring with me as my support, he’s a musical comedian, so he wants to do the Magical Mystery Tour, but I couldn’t give a monkeys. I wouldn’t say hello to Sir Paul if he was stood in my way when I’m going outside for a smoke.
Not that I’ve got anything against The Beatles, but I’m more interested in having a smoke.
Doug Stanhope can be found smoking outside the stage door at The Anvil, Basingstoke on Friday, April 13, and the Concert Hall, Reading on Wednesday, April 18. Paul McCartney is unlikely to attend.
- First published in the Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, March 29, 2012