A previous review called this “the best Doug Stanhope stand-up comedy album to date.”

I agree wholeheartedly, and would recommend this album not only to Stanhope’s existing fan-base, but also to those who have been on the fence about Stanhope.  This is not the rambling, seemingly “stream of consciousness”-style performance typically delivered by Stanhope.  Instead, it is much tighter and well structured.

It takes a comic with a very unique skill to craft a joke the premise of which few people will agree with, and still make it hilariously funny.  Case in point, Stanhope opens the show with a joke about the family of the late, great comic Mitch Hedberg.  Stanhope discusses the fact that Hedberg’s family started a charity to raise money for drug treatment centers, and opines that such a goal is the exact opposite of what Hedberg would have wanted … because Hedberg loved drugs.  I have to admit this bit made me squirm a little, but that’s one of the main reasons why the joke works.  As all the great “cringe” comics know, discomfort is an incredible source of laughter.

Doug Stanhope then delves into such topics as prostitution (how when the economy is down and more and more people are forced into prostitution to make money, it creates a “buyer’s market” and prostitutes have to do nastier things to beat the competition), the economy (how people blame the economy for their poor decisions, when the reality is that they chose to have four children they cannot feed and a house they cannot afford) and artists (how artists should not “hide” their messages and should just be blunt about the points they are trying to make).

Doug Stanhope then closes with perhaps my favorite bit on the CD; an honest, introspective statement about how he used to try to “change the world” and make poignant statements through his standup.  He would be perplexed by the fact that he did a bit about abortion back in 2004 and yet “…the problem is still there … why? … I’ve already yelled at thousands of drunk people about that.”  Great stuff.

While his style and subject matter are not for everyone, Doug Stanhope proves with this album that he is a major force to be reckoned with in the stand-up world, and deserves to be recognized as one of the all-time greats.

Brett Watson

Before Turning the Gun on Himself
Doug Stanhope
Stand-up comedy CD and MP3
Roadrunner Records 2012

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