Comedian Doug Stanhope throws up his hands at the end of his new “Before Turning the Gun on Himself ...,” declaring that his ranting at drunks (his audience) about society’s ills has been pointless over the decades: “Anyone see how dumb this is? ... We’re like Dark Ages people, and I’m not even smart!”
Yet in all of his performance leading up to that moment, the veteran American comic proves himself quite brilliant,
Stanhope is fearless in the show (recorded live in Salt Lake City), a man in his mid-40s comfortable with his place in the world and boldly aggressive with the crowd. For instance, he takes aim at “ambulance chaser” Dr. Drew Pinsky for his “unsolicited advice to Charlie Sheen via Twitter” as well as Pinsky’s advocation of rehab, which Stanhope scoffs at as unscientific because it involves bringing God into the formula for recovery. Then Stanhope adds, “There’s no such thing as addiction. There’s only things that you enjoy doing more than life.”
Meanwhile, those who wince at Stanhope’s liberal use of both the n-word and a gay slur will really squirm when he says their uneasiness with words is a result of their bad parenting. And then he offers to do a vulgar act with a black man to prove he is neither racist nor homophobic.
He also has no patience for those who live in hostile environments (they should just move, he opines) or struggling families who have numerous children.
However, Stanhope’s sole purpose isn’t to insult the downtrodden and his audience’s religious beliefs. He also offers clever self-effacing jokes, base potty humor and comments about the downside of high-definition television (porn is less appealing in such vivid detail). His brusque demeanor and raspy voice create the perfect vehicle for him to be as endearing as he is abrasive.
Stanhope’s strengths all come together in his extended impersonation of a haggard (female) prostitute during tough times, explicitly detailing the nuances of her job while also discussing economic theory.
It’s outrageous, hilarious and thought-provoking all at once.
Rating: 4 stars (out of five)
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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