Reviewer: Tracey Lowe
The Public Reviews Rating:
Despite being a comedian for over a decade, most people in the UK hadn’t heard of Doug Stanhope until he appeared as a regular contributor on Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe. With his opening gambit, “I’m Doug Stanhope, and that’s why I drink”, it was clear we weren’t dealing with another Michael McIntyre. His dark style is evidently successful, as he is currently in the middle of a massive UK tour, and has comfortably filled the biggest theatre in the Lowry complex.
Supporting Stanhope is close friend Henry Philips, who is not only hilarious but a very impressive guitar player. He has some great songs about heartbreak, but the highlight of his set was a number reminding people to not pick on nerds in high school, as they may know how to make explosives. If you are fan of musical comedians, I urge you to check him out.
On Stanhope’s previous visit to Manchester, his style could be described as shambolic. He rocked up on stage in jeans, drunk but very articulate, and at one point passed a bottle of Jagermeister around the audience. On this tour he visually makes more effort, wearing a suit, but his comic style is still very off-the-cuff. He has a couple of bits that can be described as routines; there is a particularly hilarious section regarding his desire for NFL players, which is definitely not for the faint-hearted.
Before Stanhope even appears on stage tonight, his presence has already been felt in the media. Earlier in the week he had to taken to Twitter to respond to a particularly enraging article in the Daily Telegraph, where journalist Allison Pearson had made some ill-advised comments regarding a paralysed gentlemen who wanted to die by assisted suicide. Stanhope was understandably outraged, and he spends a good twenty minutes discussing the incident, with the adoring audience lapping it up.
Assisted suicide is a subject close to Stanhope’s heart, as he explains that his mother got so ill that she took her own life. It is extremely dark territory, one which very few, if any other, comedians would touch. However, he still manages to derive humour from it. The section is oddly touching but I did feel a little uncomfortable laughing at such a tragic situation.
Stanhope ends the evening by bringing Henry Philips on stage to do an old routine about a girl called Bobbie Barnett, one of Stanhope’s more popular routines. Again, it’s touching, and Philip’s instrumental accompaniment is absolutely spot-on. As visceral and cutting as Stanhope can be, he is capable of great tenderness, something that his uninformed critics should be aware of.
Reviewed on 18th March 2012
Doug Stanhope – The Lowry, Salford,