Caustic cult comedian comes to Bangkok for the first time ever to mix up a 50-proof highball of black and bawdy comedy
This tour includes your first gigs in Southeast Asia, but have you travelled in this region before?
Not to speak of. I did some military bases in Korea and Japan in 1994 but was too broke to go do anything off base. Now I have spending money with none of the interest.
Will you be doing any Asia-specific material? I’ve heard you make references to Bangkok, and the Killing Fields of Cambodia, and participating in a live sex show in Japan.
I have nothing planned, but I’m sure the longer I’m there the more I’ll have to talk about. I imagine nights of being goaded by locals into drinking some type of septic alcohol concoctions, with a chicken head floating in the bottom, will turn up stories. I’ll pass on the sex shows though. I’m too old to make myself believe they are actually enjoying themselves.
What do you think are the funniest, or weirdest bits in your new memoir This Is Not Fame?
The Costa Rica story is fun for me because it includes crooked police, high-paranoia, and tops off with violent public diarrhea which is a fail-safe for hilarious. The weirdest part has to be simply the fact that Dr. Drew Pinsky wrote the forward after the egregious public beating I gave him on an earlier special. He is quite the gentleman and good sport.
You routinely joke about topping the comedian’s “death pool”. Have you toned down your drinking and partying in recent years?
No and yes. I drink more but it’s less of a party. More like maintenance drinking without the funny hats.
You’re renowned for extreme and edgy material, but have you ever rejected bits that just seemed too controversial?
I may avoid a bit that has a better than even odds of resulting in immediate physical violence, depending on my proximity to a fire exit, but I am professional enough to skip a bit that has repeatedly not gotten laughs. I’m on top of my game like that.
After your acclaimed role as a down-and-out comedian on the Louis CK show, will we be seeing you in any more TV shows?
I have a couple of lines in an upcoming episode of Roseanne. That should assure that I never get another opportunity. My best work was playing me on Louie and it led to zero offers. So probably not. Or… maybe on the news.
You’ve now got a big cult following and celebrity supporters like Johnny Depp and Marilyn Manson. Do you want to be any more popular or infamous than you are now?
Once you have Manson and Depp in your cult, you quit while you’re ahead. Now, to join the cult, it’s like “Fight Club” where you have to stand on my porch for days being berated.
In your most recent special you mention you’re the only comic doing the weird shit that you do. What do you think your most original contributions to standup are?
Knowing when I’ve had enough. Being aware that it’s okay to not have to be bigger, better, more well known. Above all, the hooker/drug/drunk/violent diarrhea stories in my last book, the underlying theme was being comfortable with not being addicted to fame.
I’ve had a few comedian friends who would try out their new material on me. Is that something you do with your buddies?
Absolutely not. But also, when you do say something stage-worthy to your friends in conversation, don’t hesitate to grab a cocktail napkin and write it down. It ruins the tempo of the dialogue—much like stopping a one-night stand to put on a rubber—but in both instances it’s worth it.
When I’m bummed out I get on YouTube and watch you, or Bill Hicks, or Bill Burr, and use those shows as antidepressants. Has comedy had that kind of positive influence on your life too?
Yeah. When I’m bummed out nothing helps more than listening to a comedian who is better rated than me.
What if you had to write your own epitaph for your tombstone?
It would be “What’s Time To A Pig?” Because when you’re dead, you don’t feel a need to explain the joke.
Doug Stanhope is performing live at the Westin Grand Sukhumvit on Saturday, March 17 at 8pm.
Interview by Jim Algie