Doug Stanhope brings stand-up comedy to Empty Glass
WANT TO GO?
WHERE: The Empty Glass, 410 Elizabeth St.
WHEN: 10 p.m. Sep. 19
TICKETS: $25 INFO: Call 304-345-3914 or visit www.theemptyglass.com
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Doug Stanhope gets a little flustered when he's asked to talk about his stand-up comedy act.
Sighing, the 46-year-old comedian said, "I suck at talking about my act. I do what I do."
Of course, people are welcome to come give it a try. The former "Man Show" co-host performs Sept. 19 at The Empty Glass. If you're interested in trying before buying, he also has a new comedy special, "Beer Hall Putsch," available on Netflix.
The title is a reference to Adolph Hitler and the Nazis' unsuccessful attempt to seize Munich, Germany and ignite a revolution in 1923.
Stanhope's putsch is less ambitious -- maybe make a few people laugh, continue to make a living. He doesn't have to make a whole lot. He lives in a small town. His house is paid off.
"The plan is we put that [the special] up on Netflix, then next week it goes digital and then we release it on DVD," he said Monday.
He sighed, sounding a little unsure as to how this might be successful commercially. Finally, he added, "Everything is kind of weird now."
Stanhope's comedy can get more than a little weird. It's sometimes very dark and often incredibly personal. In "Beer Hall Putsch," recorded in the spring, he discusses, among other things, violent sexual fantasies involving professional football players, the ineptitude of "Occupy Wall Street" and helping his mother commit suicide.
He's currently working on new material.
"I just put out the special," he said. "I need all new sh-t. I'll be pulling any half-baked, unworked idea out of my a-- over the next couple of months to make another beautiful baby."
The problem is there hasn't been a lot going on past the usual.
To his girlfriend in the next room, Stanhope yelled, "Hey honey, is anything new with me?"
When she didn't respond right off, he considered for a minute, then said, "I did acid for the first time in years up in Canada. That was weird. I don't recommend it. That's a young man's sport."
And he thought he'd picked up a cough for his troubles.
"My immune system is threadbare on a good day. Even if I'm bordering on a cold, there's nothing like hallucinogens to kick it into overdrive."
The smoking probably doesn't help, not that he planned to quit. He kind of resented that his girlfriend Amy "Bingo" Bingaman had.
"She just quit smoking," he said. "She's pretty much quit drinking, and she'd going to aerobics classes. She's lost 15 pounds and is looking all buff and tan -- and I'm like, what part of co-dependent don't you understand?
"She's supposed to be on the other end of the same couch I'm never off of when I'm home."
Stanhope won't be home for a while, however. Over the next few weeks, the comedian is embarking on what is billed as "The Sh-t Town Tour 2013," though he acknowledged that not every town on the tour, in fact, is actually a "shi-t town."
"I don't know that I've ever even been to Charleston," he said. "I'm sort of assuming it is, but a lot the tour is just because of the routing."
It hardly matters whether Charleston is a sh-t town or not. Stanhope said he likes playing towns he's never been to before. West Virginia is new to him, and he thought The Empty Glass definitely sounded like his kind of place.
Other comedians, he's sure, would never deign to come to a place like Charleston.
"Somebody has to," he said. "Jim Gaffigan sure isn't."
The closest Gaffigan gets is Louisville, Ky., in October.
Aside from performing in new and unusual places, Stanhope said each new place is an opportunity to raid the local thrift stores for old clothes.
"I have a closet full of vintage 1970s 'Anchorman'/'Caddyshack' clothes."
He's always looking for something to add, which can take the sting out of not making a lot of money every single night on the tour. But it's OK. The money isn't the only thing.
"We can make it up in Chicago," he said. Reach Bill Lynch at email@example.com or 304-348-5195.