Were You At Doug Stanhope StandUp Comedy Last Friday in Lafayette, LA…
It all started innocently enough: interest in Lafayette Comedy’s Facebook event, “Doug Stanhope and Friends”. I wasn’t even sure I was going to go, even though I was a pretty big fan and had been for years. Stanhope, if you’re not familiar, is a fairly ascerbic comic, who will destroy you in a heartbeat just for being an audience member. As for me, even as a fan of comedy, I’d never attended even so much as an open-mic night, and I’ve been following comedy as rabidly as I’ve been following music, and can dissect it like a science more than enjoy it.
I half expected to sit in the back because it was a general admission at a small club inside of the local Hilton, so standing room only. As I’m waiting for my brother and his wife to show up, I’m perusing the event page on Facebook, and I message the event page to find out if they accommodate for wheelchairs (I’m in one, I’ll divulge for the purposes to be revealed later). Turns out I know the opening comedian, Jason, who also puts on the event and that he’ll get me sorted once I’m inside.
So we get there, and Jason directs me to a couple of spots that are open. My brother decides we’d be okay sitting up front. FRONT ROW. If you know
anything about standup, this is a mine field of horror. Even my sister-in-law knew better, and sat behind us in the second row. I didn’t particularly care. I don’t necessarily enjoy the attention, I just know that I’ve gotten this far in Life with a pretty strong sense of humor.
My friend is the warm-up for Stan Hope and his friend, Brendan Walsh. You may know Brendan from Comedy Central’s “Weird Uncle” or go further back to “World’s Dumbest” on Tru-TV. Funny guy. More on him later.
Jason was pretty good, I have to say. Does a bit on driving stoned, another on online-shopping and buying a gross of cereal. Pretty good stuff for a warmup, and to introduce Brendan Walsh.
Holy shit, this guy. Brendan Walsh. He basically comes on and does about a half hour set on some pretty outlandish stuff. Just explosive, really. I’m not sure if he was coked up or not, because he was just pretty animated, and one of those comics that kind of delivers a punchline in a disconnected from the audience kind of way. Either way, he was pretty brilliant. My particular favorite was the rant on using the handicapped bathroom stall, but that’s just my sense of humor.
Walsh was a good setup for what was to come, Doug Stanhope. I’ve been following this guy’s career for quite a while. Maybe not as long as some, but I’ve liked him sense he hosted “The Man Show” with Joe Rogan. He’s completely different from what you’d expect him to be. In fact, he’s different from every other comic, really. I’m a fan of everyone: George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Bill Cosby, Denis Leary, Artie Lange, Bill Hicks, and the list goes on. Stanhope is in a category all his own. My best analogy is that Stanhope would be Bill Hicks if he was still alive. But I digress…
You knew it was gonna be a good show, because he announces he’s already 3 double whiskeys in. It was gonna be a long night. Doug Stanhope, like I said earlier, is in a league all by himself. I think of him as the GG Allin of comedy. He’s an author, a podcast host, and hailed by every other edgy comic (Dave Attel, Bill Burr, and the like) as their favorite comic. I really thought he’d be taller, because his stature really is larger than life. Unlike Allin, he’s not really confrontational, unless he’s provoked. Enter Lafayette, LA.
Let me back up. Early on, I said I study comedy more than I enjoy it. This is true because, although I’m not a comedian, I think of myself as having a sense of humor, having dealt with a disability most of my life. Things have to be funny to you, and Doug Stanhope’s style is definitely in my wheelhouse. I’ve watched him on talk shows, clips on YouTube, standup specials, things like that. One bit of his that I’ve seen is called “Killer Closer”, where he explains about a killer whale trainer who gets killed during a show at Sea World, and how it has all the elements of sadness, horror and comedy. It would be the perfect ending to a standup career. A lot of his bits are available online to watch. It’s really why I’ve never really considered going to an actual show, especially in Lafayette. I couldn’t imagine the local crowd understanding what he was bringing to the table, and I was for the most part right. That’s not to say that there weren’t people in the audience who “got it”, but the general population thinks it’s their responsibility to get tanked up and be a part of the show. At a couple of points, he actually had to stop a few people from taking pictures. His event was the cause celebre’ fodder for this town, and people just don’t know how to act respectfully. I don’t know if it happens in other towns, but it definitely happens here.
This is how it started: “Lafayette, good to be here! It’s safe to say this isn’t gonna be one of those shows I’m recording for a live record. Consider this a ‘focus group.’ I mean, look at this: you’ve got this guy over here, with a cast. This guy’s (me!) is missing a leg….” So I say, under my breath, “Rough town.” “No shit,” he says. First swing at me. After all, I was on the front row. That’s just begging to get nailed. So I let it slide. But he kept coming at me. Finally, he goes on a rant about truckers, and how he’s gotten emails from them, wanting to attack him for something he’s said during his act from time to time. “We put food on your table” was their response to one thing or another he may or may not have said about them. He meandered through explanation how a fraction of truckers, who he’s seen on the road side-swipe others, moving from town to town, carrying their trinkets made in china or wicker furniture from Home Depot and only a fraction of truckers delivered a facsimile of what could be called “food”, with a 25 year shelf life and microwave-ready. He points at me and says, “This guy knows! He probably lost his leg because of diabetes! Right?!!” Howls of laughter from the audience.
In comedy, timing is everything, and here was my opportunity. By this time, Doug had started referring to me as Stumpy. I was fine with that, but by this
time it was time to give back. So, I corrected him by saying,”No, it wasn’t diabetes. I was actually a killer whale trainer at Sea World.” He stopped in his tracks, and immediately recognized where I was going with it, that I was riffing on his own joke. “GO AHEAD…FINISH THE BIT!!!” We were both laughing at the moment, the reference and at ourselves.
Stanhope went on to rant about anything and everything from dead kids, rape jokes and why they should be funny, and being an “age-ist”. All relevant, unfiltered and uncensored. The gloves were off and I was loving it. He even called back to me again in a moment of respect, saying how much he “loved it” that I owned my disability and amputation. Just a great time. Frankly, I think my attendance at any future stand-up event is unfortunately ruined.
After the show, I ran into some friends with my brother so he could close out his tab at the hotel bar. His wife was already in the car; as I told him goodbye, some friends were going to the pool because “they heard Doug was hanging out there”. I told them I’d go meet them in a minute. As I tell my brother goodbye, I meet Jason the promoter by the bar and ask him for directions to the pool. I’m clueless as to my surroundings and he tells me it’s one floor down. So I take the elevator down. I’m down there by myself, unsure of where I’m going or even why, or what to expect to see or who when I get out there. Exiting the elevator, I follow the pool signs to the next door on my right.
Life, as in comedy, timing is everything. I find the door on my right that says “Rooms/Pool/Stairwell.” As I open it, the elevator doors open, and there stands Doug Stanhope and Brendan Walsh with their tour manager Shaley. Doug makes eye contact with me, and says “….shit”. We both just start laughing. Perfect end to all of it, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I thanked him for coming and expressed my gratitude for a great time. I really hope he comes back around, because it doesn’t get much better than Doug Stanhope.
Below is the Doug Stanhope skit that Colby was referring to above: Tune in on Rock Louisiana today by clicking here