No-holds-barred comedian Doug Stanhope is currently on tour in Asia for the first time just ahead of his April shows in Australia. SIAN CHOYCE spoke with him just ahead of what he calls his Tom Rhodes Tour. Even though some of his habits may be getting cleaner, it doesn’t sound like his act will be any time soon (much to the delight of his fans). He performs in Perth on April 18 at Empire.
Will you get to spend much time here either side of the show?
Honestly, I have not even looked at this schedule. I know there’s Hobart, but that’s about it.
I’ve got this whole fucking Asian tour that I’m terrified about before that and I haven’t even looked at and it starts real soon.
I was gonna ask you about that, have you done much through Asia before?
No. None. It’s the Tom Rhodes Tour. It’s all the places Tom Rhodes plays. Hong Kong and Shanghai and a whole bunch of places. I got no business being there, but hopefully I’ll get some stories out of it cause I do need the material.
You mentioned on your podcast the other day about being 10 days sober (at least with regards to smoking), it must be more days by now. How’s that going, especially three hours into press calls?
I’m on day 13 without cigarettes. I don’t really have a problem until, yeah… around, like now. I’ve been trying to stay distracted, stay busy. Then, (Brian) Hennigan springs this press junket on me. So, I’m having some cocktails, which makes me want a goddamn cigarette. But instead, as soon as we’re done, we’re gonna go walk along the beach. I just got a pedicure! I got a pedicure, a facial, a 50 minute massage and yeah, we spent $750 in a spa. Sober good times! Havin’ sober fun.
I didn’t realise being sober was so expensive, they don’t tell you about that…
(Laughs) It’s money I saved yesterday, our first day here, when I spent most of the day with violent diarrhoea and, not blood vomits, but it was almost like sewage vomit. I must’ve had some kind of bacterial infection in my stomach cause everything that’s coming out of both ends stunk like you wouldn’t believe. So yeah, I was puking and shitting all yesterday, didn’t spend a nickel! Didn’t even eat! I never puke when I’m drinking, but now I’m not drinking, I’m puking.
Well, they say when you quit smoking you start coughing more, have you experienced much of that?
That hasn’t happened to me. I had the most grotesque cough when I quit two weeks ago. Within five days it was completely gone. The vomiting, that was just a brief thing, I don’t know what that was. I spent some time on the internet trying to figure out what it might be and everything pointed to some of that discount meat I love to buy. That 50% off meat that I buy at Safeway. I probably left some of that out too long then ate it, who knows.
Seems like as good of a reason as any (laughs). You tweeted recently that you’re a big fan of the TV show Impractical Jokers…
Oh yeah, they’re good friends of ours.
Oh cool, I wasn’t sure if you knew them or whether you just watched the show…
Yeah, I found that show when it first came out and I tweeted a lot about how funny it was and they got a hold of me and we went and saw them a bunch of times, went on their cruise. They came to Bisbee for the Super Bowl one year. Yeah, Sal and Q mostly, the others are kinda dicks, but yeah, I fucking love that show. Still love it, never gets old. Have they been to Australia?
Umm, I don’t think so. Not that I’ve seen. Possibly somewhere on the East Coast, but not in Perth…
I’m sure they’ll show up eventually because when you’re that successful, its only so long before everyone starts recognising you and it kills the prank.
Are you a big fan of the prank genre in general or is it just those guys that struck a chord?
Oh, absolutely. Since I was a kid with Candid Camera. Absolutely love hidden camera shows.
What do you think of all the YouTube ‘pranksters’ around now? What did you think of the kid who went into the Japanese Suicide Forest and pretended to talk to a corpse?
Oh, I vaguely heard something about that. I’m not a big YouTube guy. So much of it’s poorly done. I love hidden camera when it’s done well and when it’s not, it’s fucking vulgar. Like Ashton Kutcher and that Punk’d show was just such a slap in the face of the entire genre. It was fucking ugly and retarded. You try to get into a loop of that kind of stuff on YouTube and you just go “alright, this is so obviously fake.” I just can’t do it. And, they’re not actors. They’re just people trying to pull off a YouTube prank. If they can’t act in porn, they can’t act for free in a fucking YouTube clip where you pretend to get punched in the face.
Yeah, gotta be able to take a convincing shot to the face in both instances. Do you have many distractions planned outside your shows while you’re Australia? You said you’re going for a walk on the beach after this, we have a lot of beaches…
(Laughs) Exactly. I have no idea what my schedule is, no idea how much time we have in any given city. I wouldn’t make plans anyway. Just target some opportunity. You show up, you have a day off, you meet a guy who says he’s got the keys to this thing and you can sneak in when no one’s looking and you go “oh, I’ll do that!” But its nothing you plan! Like, when we were in Norway and I got drunk and we tried to steal a boat, that wasn’t something that we had on the ‘Day at a Glance’ months ahead of time.
Don’t know how much you’ll want to say about this, but I’ll ask. Did you want to let people know what to expect ahead of your April shows in Australia?
No. But, if they’ve seen me before, it won’t be drastically different. I’m not a changed man, by any means. It’ll be the same guy you know and love… or hate. I don’t know the punchlines yet nor would I tell you them in an interview, that would be dumb. Like, those alternative medicine assholes who pretend to be doctors.
Completely fair. We’ll just have to wait for that Perth comedian, Jeff Hewitt, to post your entire set list on Facebook like last time…
(Laughs) Yeah. The great thing about Australia is, it has that feeling of old comedy where you can tell people anything cause who the fuck are they gonna tell? So, as long as they aren’t like American audiences and can keep their stupid fucking phone in their pocket and not try to film every goddamn thing, I might tell ya shit I wouldn’t even tell anyone in America. Low-rent Zapruders, every one of ’em. Gotta get evidence.
So, you have a pretty strict no phone policy at shows?
But, people still get around it?
They just don’t listen. Then you end up screaming at people half the night. My fans have been pretty good about it though. When it first kicked off, it was just, everyone. Now its just a few. They’re like “uh, I was just takin’ a picture” and it’s like “take it after the fucking show!” It’s just so goddamn distracting to me when you’re in a flow and actually riffing stuff, then you look down and you’re straight out of your head… you’re posing. Anytime someone puts a camera on you, you pose. Nothing takes you out of your head more than someone about to take a picture of you. That little distraction that might fuck up the whole new way you’re taking a bit. You stole it. You stole my soul with your fucking camera. I wanna kick people to death sometimes with just a bare foot.
(Laughs) Do you think your fans are good with not taking photos because they don’t want to bear responsibility for ruining a new bit?
Yeah, but it only takes one that didn’t know better.
“I’m you’re biggest fan!”
No one is worse in my career than my biggest fan. Everyone that had to eventually be thrown out because they’re too drunk and they won’t listen and they keep fucking up and they keep talking back to you like it’s a conversation (laughs) and then you finally go “look, I don’t want to have to do this, but you’re obviously not gonna listen and you’re gonna have to leave. I’ve spoken to you too many times and you keep fucking up my show.”
“But, I’m your biggest fan!!!”
Always my biggest fan. That cocksucker.
(Laughs) Do people get kicked out regularly or is that guy only around every now and then?
I don’t kick people out as often as I should, because I can. Over the course of my career I could’ve thrown so many people out, just for no reason. “I don’t like your glasses. Your glasses are stupid, get out of my show.” I can do that, I don’t know why I didn’t. They say that absolute power, corrupts absolutely, but I kinda missed the turn. I should’ve seen my absolute power when I had it in spades. Could’ve thrown everyone out and not do the show. “I had a great hour of stuff for you guys, but you all look stupid. So, I’m having you all thrown out and I’m not doing the show.”