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Arts & Culture

Doug Stanhope comes to Improv Orlando

The comedian on ambushing pedophiles, why Hitler was a loser and why all the good stuff comes from the darkest places

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The idea for this “ambush video” sprang out of a line from Andrist’s stand-up act, but it doesn’t seem like a documentary about childhood sexual abuse is going to be a comedy, per se.
Oh, you don’t know Andy! Andy can take the most rotten lemons and make Citrón out of it.

Awesome. Or, I guess, not really awesome, but …
Yeah – pretty awesome. The fact that it actually worked, that he actually found the guy, that we coerced him to come out – uh, under dubious pretenses – but we got him to show up in a public place where we could actually film his reaction.

You do a long piece about helping your mother out when her terminal lung cancer became too painful. Do you think the best stuff comes from the darkest places?
Yeah, and it’s the most necessary stuff. That’s where comedy’s desperately needed, because there’s none inherent. You talk about dating, it’s not like, “Oh thank god, someone’s taking the edge off this.”

Like jokes about that missing sock from the dryer.
Yeah, you’re not curled up in a dark closet crying into your eyes because you lost a sock.

Speaking of dark places, your character on Louie: Would you say there was some of you in that character?
Oh, yeah, yeah. No, I’m not an actor. I stink at acting. That’s me if I had a few less dollars.

Have you ever gone up as Shitty Fat Tits, or was that name an invention of the show?
Yeah, actually I did. I just did that New England tour and I made ’em book a shitty bar in Bangor, Maine, just ’cause that’s where my character was going to kill himself. He was gonna play one last shitty gig and then kill himself, so I squoze Bangor in there. They were gonna bring me up as Shitty Fat Tits, but I don’t remember if they actually did.

Mm-hmm.
I shoulda just said “Yes.”

With an album title like Beer Hall Putsch, should we assume you’re a big Hitler fan, or just really into history?
No, it was more about Hitler’s failure. The Beer Hall Putsch was where he tried to take over the government in the ’20s – they’d all meet in beer halls and yell and scream about politics and how they got fucked over after WWI – he was the good public speaker who’d get them all riled up and out into the streets and then when the first shot was fired, he ran like a pussy. Which is basically how I feel, yelling about how people should do this and that and change the world and I don’t do a fucking thing. That was the symbolism.

Noted. Bill Hicks, to whom you’re often compared, talked a lot about history onstage – but I’ve read you think you’re more like Chris Rock than Hicks.
I would expect that [the comparison to Rock], but I never hear it.

How so?
Higher energy, a squeaky annoying voice. Bill Hicks, he was very methodical, knew what the fuck he was talking about, he wasn’t a drunken, stuttering, screaming prick like me. That guy was all sober and read books and whatnot. … The thing about Bill Hicks is you can listen to everything Bill Hicks ever put out and not know a single thing about him as a human being. That’s where I bristle at the comparisons: I, I bare my asshole almost literally onstage.

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