Comic Doug Stanhope brings his 'drinking brain' to Tampa Improv: interview

Comic Doug Stanhope won't back down

wtatangelo@bradenton.comAugust 19, 2012 

Sure, Doug Stanhope has problems.

Maybe some issues he can't work out.

But to legions of fans he's funny, truthful and full of passion.

An outlaw comic.

Perhaps the last one standing.

An entertainer doing a high-wire act of uncensored social criticism similar to the ones performed by caustic greats like Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Bill Hicks.

"Sure it's flattering, I admire a lot of those guys," Stanhope, a two-decade veteran comic, said of the comparisons.

"But the best guys are the ones working now. Comedy dies on the vine. It has the shelf life of mayonnaise left out in the hot sun. So the guys who are up and coming are just inherently funnier than the legends -- they're new and fresh."

Stanhope's latest Showtime special, "Before Turning The Gun On Himself," started airing earlier this month.

Stanhope digitally released the album of the same name in March and it shot to No. 1 on the Billboard, iTunes and Amazon comedy charts. Recorded in Salt Lake City, the live companion CD/DVD will be out Nov. 6.

The performance finds Stanhope comparing Dr. Drew to Joseph Goebbels, reducing Alcoholics Anonymous to a cult for simpletons and lambasting people who bring their children to house parties.

Stanhope drinks during pretty much the entire show.

"I go on stage with an outline and then I have several cocktails and think of things I've never thought of during the day," the 45-year-old said by phone.

"It's almost like I have a co-writer: my logical brain will see an angle and then my nighttime, drinking brain adds the color."

Stanhope's current tour, which comes to Tampa Improv in Ybor City on Sunday, also features performances by his friends Carlos Valencia and Junior Stopka.

All three comedians are riding across the Southeast in a big, white van.

"It's a blast," Stanhope said. "I spent a couple years just flying into gigs and flying back out and that's no fun. You don't see your friends and miss all the best parts of hanging out and drinking and crawling into the van with a bag and a hangover."

He added, "That's where you get material."

Details: 7 p.m. Aug. 19, Tampa Improv, 1600 E. 8th Ave. C-12, Tampa. Tickets: $25. Info: 813-864-4000.

Wade Tatangelo, features writer, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow

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