Another Tramadol Night: Doug Stanhope – The Forum, Nottingham – 5/4/11

My compadre and I, both suffering from debilitating back pain, took the questionable decision to drop 100mg of Tramadol each before making the hour-or-so journey up the M42 from Birmingham to Nottingham, and, by the time we hit the sheriff’s town, I, for one, was itching like a £10-bag-a-day-merchant in the waiting room of the man. Prescription drugs, huh?

Now, I’ve always like Nottingham – three-girls-to-every-boy, as the nursery rhyme went when I was but a whippersnapper – and thus the stroll through the town centre towards the venue began as a joy in the unseasonably warm spring evening’s dying rays. Venue located, and bearings nailed, we decided to hunter-gather in search of fish and chips, but our joy, our fun, our seasons in the sun soon turned to conflict. No sooner had we taken our chip and Coca Cola place, seated on a concrete plinth in the centre of a square around the corner from the venue, when our relative peace was shattered by a local Celtic pisshead, intent on sharing his vin blanc with the red-haired-fella with the chips. His breath stank worse than his demeanour, and I stridently refused his offer of swigage, explaining that I had won with my battle-with-the-bottle some time previously, and forcibly, but not aggressively, declined a sup at his paper bag sheathed teat. Thus followed an uncomfortable few minutes when he, at first, congratulated me on my abstinence, indulged in flattery, then stood and wobbled, getting ever-angrier, and started swinging his arms in a threatening manner. I sat my ground and remained unfazed, eventually agreeing to watch his bottle while he bought fish, and, on his return, told him plainly that we were offski. Our parting cuddle was both moving and repulsive, in equal measure. Alcohol, huh?

The venue was perfect for comedy, and rammed to the proverbial. A single microphone stood centre-stage, next to a table that would soon be plied with alcohol. We took to our seats, and the chap next to me introduced himself, loudly, in a Yorkshire accent. He was, he explained, a massive Doug Stanhope fan. He’d been into him for over ten years, and seemed to snort derisively when I confessed to have only been ‘into Doug’ for a mere half-decade. He was drinking pints, fast, and his much-younger girlfriend kept disappearing to the bar, keeping him constantly well stocked, and, before long, well oiled. We discussed Doug, and compared Doug DVD stashes. Again, he appeared to snort when I confirmed that No Refunds was the only one I owned, and got even more annoyed when I suggested that Doug fronted a comedic lineage that drew a straight line through Bill Hicks all the way to Lenny Bruce. He declared Nirvana his biggest moment in the history of popular music. If there had been any Doug Stanhope t-shirts, this guy would have had his on over his jacket. By the time I’d asked him how many punters he reckoned were in the house, had calculated how much Doug stood to make, and commented on how comedy sure paid better than rock and roll, it seemed, he was looking down his not inconsiderable nose in my general direction. Obsessives, huh?

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Doug hits the stage to rapturous applause. As per usual, he makes his ‘not worthy gestures’, knocks back a short, rips into some sad-fuckers filming him on mobile phones, then the rampant rant of invective-filled, stream of consciousness rhetoric commenced. For those of you who know little of Doug Stanhope, he trades in misanthropic deconstructivist nihilism, posing as social commentary, and it’s by far the funniest show in town. He carries a picture of his dead father around in his wallet to show people who insist on showing him pictures of their babies. He asks if anyone in the audience with a big black dick fancies having it photographed across his face so he can show that one to people who approach him to bite him out for his use of the word ‘faggot’. Inevitably, the heckles begin, and, wouldn’t you know it, Yorky-The-Number-One-Doug-Fan can’t keep his fucking mouth shut. He’s desperate to get involved, the comedic equivalent of chanting the chorus to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, I guess: “I Love you Doug!”… “Are you sure”, spits back Stanhope, “I don’t believe we’ve been formally introduced, you may hate me!” Fan worship, huh?

Meanwhile, back at the plot, the laughter is constant. We weep tears of comedic salt, hold bursting sides of splitting gut, resisting the urge to get our jeans as pissed as Yorky Boy, yet beside us, on the other side, sits a young lady who laughs not once throughout the entire show. Obviously, one man’s comedic liberation is another woman’s ambivalence. No target is sacrosanct, no mercy is shown, no quarter given, no punches pulled. Alcohol fuels Doug’s show, and he’s hilariously aware that he is as hopelessly addicted as the poser-addicts he rips so mercilessly during the AA portion of tonight’s set. He claims that whenever he tells his AA mates he’s going to perform sober, they respond with, “Not tonight, I’ve got tickets for the show!” As the show progresses, Doug gets drunker. The shorts go back with regular aplomb, his face ever-redder, words becoming slurred. Doug introduces his closing riff on relationships with the line: “I once fucked a nine-year-old!” Luckily, it transpires, Stanhope was nine-years-old at the time, so paedophilia is something you can’t add to his ever-growing list of socio-comedic crimes. By the time the show closes, it’s hard to work out where Stanhope The Stand-up Comedian ends and Stanhope The Drunk begins. It’s getting hazy… it’s hard to see the join. Alcohol, huh?

Simon Morgan

Punk rocker, folk strummer, baby social worker, and parent, Simon Morgan is a polymath. He has brought you many things in his time – as Jean Encoule he created the legendary trakMARX website, but has now stepped from behind his alter ego to reveal his true, vibrant colours. Despite having gone prematurely orange, he maintains a youthful open-mindedness, which he combines with his vast experience and ready wit. His debut solo album, Domestic Abuse is now available. “Spirit/Is Life/It flows through/The death of me/ Endlessly/Like a River/ Unafraid/Of Becoming/The sea.” (Gregory Corso)

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Originally posted 2011-03-28 10:32:20. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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