Doug Stanhope, Worst

Feature by Will White | 14 Aug 2006

Doug Stanhope is a prophet. While our pathetic minds are anaesthetised, allowing us to live in the world, he just can't switch his off! He sees things as they really are, he sees the truth. This truth includes: all women are whores (of greater or lesser proficiency), and everyone loves a story about kickfucking a girl with cerebral palsy.

Stanhope's invectives on the drive of corporate America to make us all into automatons have been widely lauded at this Festival, with five star reviews a regular occurrence. With the prevailing American climate as it is, anyone who has been so thoroughly rejected by its mainstream is likely to receive automatic sympathy from Edinburgh audiences; Stanhope certainly knows how to capitalise on this - if we're not laughing, we're part of the machine.

So you take a seat in front of the stage. You know this guy has been pilloried by fundamentalist Christian America (who you hate), and by the 'PC gone mad' brigade (who you can't stand), and he's got five stars from the newspaper you read. So when he says you would far rather have been molested as a child than smacked, that's all ok. Isn't it? In tonight's show, during a tirade against those who complain about having been molested as children, someone shouts out: "mate, you haven't got a fucking clue". Instantly, the laughter is more subdued. It seems to have given people an opportunity to reconsider their response, and once they do, they realise they don't actually want to be laughing at this.

If you don't laugh at Stanhope, it doesn't mean that you're joyless, naive or "easily offended" (as it implies you might be on your ticket). It just means that you refuse to be complicit in his lazy, squalid misanthropy.