Doug Stanhope| Before Turning the Gun on Himself (Roadrunner)

stanhope sqPerhaps his self-proclaimed apathy these days is what allows his humor to be so honest.


It’s been said that brutal honesty springs from a love of brutality rather than the love of honesty. Society has often turned to its comedians for the harsh honesty that only satire and biting social commentary can provide. A comedian in the modern age is classically a mouthpiece for social conscience. While Doug Stanhope addresses quite frankly in his performance on Before Turning the Gun on Himself that he has in the past cultivated an act that spoke on social consciousness, he goes on to admit that nowadays he just doesn’t care.

Perhaps his self-proclaimed apathy these days is what allows his humor to be so honest. His observations on subjects ranging from art and artists, to words and their ability to offend, to addiction and interventions, all push past what most contemporaries would call “the edge” in edgy comedy.

The structure of Stanhope’s act follows a seemingly contrary pattern of cohesiveness and misdirection in which he takes consistent detours off topic into bits involving things like the difference between Koreans and Japanese, as well as the consistency of his own bowel movements. These tangents always seem to come full circle, though, back to the linear direction of his sharp-tongued monologue during which he even expounds himself that every word has to mean something and they all must move in one direction.

As a listener, in spite of the abrasive style of Stanhope’s wit, one doesn’t feel he or she is being simple yelled at or chided. On the contrary, the feeling of the message is that Stanhope labels himself something of a loser, but one who is just smart enough to realize he is one, and not quite smart enough to change his station in life.

Enjoying immediate success in the number one spots on the Billboard, iTunes, and Amazon comedy charts after its initial digital release in early March, Before Turning the Gun on Himself is now available in a CD/DVD companion set, released November 6. | Jason Neubauer

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