REVIEW: Doug Stanhope at The Albert Halls

First published in Theatre The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , news editor

AT best he was shambolic, at worst, plain offensive.

Watching Doug Stanhope ramble through 80 minutes-or-so of disconnected material was uncomfortable, to say the least.

At his peak, the American was a little-known comedian over here, who drew favourable comparisons with the late Bill Hicks.

In his own words, he told us, "You used to be able to watch me for a lot less money ... and I was hilarious."

He went on to explain that press about his close-to-the-bone sets often drew controversy and criticism, only serving to boost his audience numbers.

"I got lazy," he added. "Now you have to pay more to see me try less." Or words to that effect.

Cheers, Doug. We’d already figured that out, but don’t rub it in our face.

His targets included the local media who ring him at 8.30am to interview him about his tour, when he’s hungover and doesn’t want to talk; women, especially "chick authors"; and gays.

He also backed controversial US Republican Presidential hopeful Ron Paul.

"Yes he’s racist, but he wants to bring the troops home," Stanhope shouted. He went onto say that while he wasn’t racist, he did hate people for different reasons, such as poor table manners, appearing to suggest that this was no better than discriminating against someone because of the colour of their skin.

This left me dumbfounded. He later told us he was sexist, but that he "probably shouldn’t admit to that". No, probably not.

He saved his worst 'til last. An at times funny, albeit shocking, fantasy sequence involving him and a black American football player getting up close and personal in front of 60,000 fans.

Sadly, his punchline was based around AIDS and its prevalence among gay men. Such attitudes are wildly outdated, drawing disapproving shakes of the head from a polite British crowd.

Objectionable material aside, Stanhope’s gags were ill-conceived and poorly delivered. He constantly checked his notes, which is fine if you are warming up for a big tour, but when this is the big tour, then it’s just unprofessional. Sorry.

Bolton was the first of 37 UK dates. He urged us to "tweet ahead" to let people know he was coming.

I’m not sure I could sum up the show in 140 characters — well maybe #giveitamiss — but I suppose I could post a link to the review.

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