Although Doug Stanhope doesn’t stick a pistol in his mouth at the end of his new album, Before Turning the Gun on Himself, you’d have to admit it would be a killer closer. Instead, the comedy veteran turns the gun on society– yet again, blasting away at a celebrity-obsessed culture rife with addiction and apathy.
Stanhope’s usual no-bullshit, no-holds-barred style of comedy wastes no time tearing apart Dr. Drew (of Celebrity Rehab fame). “You do bits and you fake anger and you write a bit and you have passion for it. Then you do it too many times and you have to work up the anger…and I’ve never had to do that with Dr. Drew Pintsky,” he rants. “Dr. Drew is to medicine what David Blaine is to science.” Complaining the “doctor to the drug-addled stars” offers no real, tangible cure, he also vents on 12-step programs. “AA makes Scientology look credible,” he says.
But he doesn’t knock on the religious, but simply the infusion of spirituality into medicine. “The problem is that when a medical professional is telling you you have a disease that’s not a disease. And he’s telling you that the cure is a God that doesn’t exist.”
Last year’s album, Oslo: Burning the Bridge to Nowhere (which landed on our list of top 10 favorites of the year), found Stanhope slightly toned down and admitting defeat due to age and an entertainment industry that had driven him as far away as Norway to record an album. Hilarious, his voice sounded that of a frustrated, tired grandfather who has settled down with a glass of whiskey on the couch, sharing with us his perverted wisdom rather than shouting it from the mountaintops, as we had been used to. Before Turning the Gun on Himself, however, is a glorious rejuvenation of his raunchy energy and damn-it-all spirit. This album could act, in effect, as a bullet list of people he vehemently loathes: friends who bring their kids to parties, pretentious turquoise belt-making artists and people offended by words.
After shooting down a myriad of people and institutions, Stanhope opens fire on his own fans. He ponders, “In 20 years of comedy, I’ve probably had a dozen good points.” He wanted to change the world with his microphone, and no one ever seriously listened to what he was trying to say about marriage or abortion. “It gets frustrating as shit. Fuck it, fuck everyone! It’s as frustrating as if you lived in a world full of starving people, where occasionally you could point out food that no one seemed to notice…and people go, ‘Oh! He’s so right! There is [food] over there. I never noticed that.’ But instead of eating them, they shove them up their noses and assholes for entertainment value!”
Only one group of people seem to receive his sympathy: prostitutes. Some people fear that if they, too, lose their jobs, they may be out on the street turning tricks just to feed themselves. “Hooker doesn’t have that same safety net. Hookers are already out there sucking dicks,” he reminds us. He explores the predicament of a hooker in this economy who may have to compete with these new hustlers in what is three minutes of possibly one of my favorite character monologues that I have heard in a stand-up routine– a track properly titled “Keynesian Economic Theory As Applied to Private Sector Independent Contracting.”
At 44 years old, Stanhope, just doesn’t seem to give a shit about this world anymore. “I’m way closer to dead than I am ‘life of the party’…I’m treating this planet like the fucking rental car that it is and I’m turning it in trashed with the bumper hanging off!”
The prolific comedian has now released 12 comedy albums, over 12 hours of material that has captivated fans around the world. He is an act that corralled his drunken fans from the bars, to the comedy clubs, to the theaters. For anyone craving realness, blunt honesty about the low level our civilization has reached, Stanhope becomes their lord and savior, with a cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other, turning water into vodka.
Before Turning The Gun On Himself is now available on iTunes. Buy it here! Seriously, what are you waiting for?