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Monday, July 26, 2010

More Stanhope ramblings

A friend wrote me today asking if I really believed the moon landing was a hoax (in reference to the Matt Billon bit in the post below). Of course I don't think it was a hoax. But I still liked Billon's take on it (whether he truly believes it's a hoax or not). I've never felt the need to agree with a comic in order to find him funny. I thought the material was well-researched (there was plenty to chew on), well-delivered with conviction, and – bottom line – really funny. The fact I disagree with the premise and conclusion is immaterial.

Which brings us back to Doug Stanhope. I remembered a couple other bits he did last night. And similarly I disagree with his take, but that doesn't stop them from being killer jokes. He thought a great idea would be to register himself as a sex offender just so his friends wouldn't bring their annoying kids over to his place. I happen to like children (as a general rule), but that's just a great, great line whether you agree with him or not. He delivers it with such earnest contempt that you totally buy it, too. I happen to believe Stanhope isn't nearly the curmudgeon he lets on to be. First off, he's the nicest guy. There are no airs about him. And one hint I had was when I was interviewing him a couple weeks ago. He was entertaining his nephew and niece. Occasionally they'd come into the room and interrupt him and he treated them like anyone would treat kids. He sounds like he'd even make a good father. I think he doesn't like kids in principle (and who does, really?) but in reality he's fine with them.

Stanhope makes you think. Not in an Arsenio Hall "things that make you go hmm" kind of way, but gets you thinking about all sorts of stuff. The other chunk of material I remembered after the fact was his take on artists. He lives in a little town of 6,000, many of whom are artists. Stanhope is an artist. Yet he's come to the realization that he hates artists. And hates art. Again, he's always finding a new way to surprise, just when you think you know a guy. And whether I agree with the sentiment or not, he makes a great case against art and wraps it up in the perfect analogy. He talked about hearing an interview with Jello Biafra talking about his art and what he wanted to say in song, yada yada yada. Then they played a clip of the Dead Kennedys and it was practically unintelligible. Stanhope said if you've got something to say, just say it. Tone it down a little, make it more succinct and just say it. If the message is that important, don't make it harder to understand by flowering it up through art – just say it. Then the analogy: "I've got the cure for cancer here in this Rubik's Cube."

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