Doug Stanhope rules.
Prescriptioneers are well aware of the high regard in which I hold Doug Stanhope and his fearless comedic career; I believe that he, Louis C.K. and Marc Maron are the three best stand-ups on the planet at the moment. Doug takes no prisoners, and that doesn’t just extend to the hecklers in the crowd.
His latest newsletter tackles those who profiteer by “teaching comedy”.
I’ve previously been involved in some healthy discussion of the Comedy Boot Camp announcement at the AST website, where the initial comments turned into a roll-up-those-sleeves debate involving the relatively known proprietor of the camp, his not-famous brother and a plethora of comics and comedy fans. The general consensus was that it was a Ponzi scheme of psycho-babble about having self-esteem, but if you think you’re getting your money’s worth, well…it was your money.
But Stanhope just showed up at the knife fight with a bazooka.
“It is very easy for a comic – or anyone I guess – to get bogged down in hate and cynicism. I am guilty of that most hours of the day. It has nothing to do with money or career or all the other trivia. While some of my bitterness could be attributed to excessive drink, it is mostly rooted in the idiocy that surrounds me and the shit people will accept as good or correct or real, etc, without any question whatsoever.”
“It’s important – especially in my business – to have a very deep well of hatred. One thing though that I’ve hated since even my youngest,hope-filled days as a comic – worse than bad comedy, hack comedy or even joke thieves – are people who teach stand-up comedy classes. Keep in mind that before I started comedy, most of my young adult life was spent working in low-level fraud – from toner scams and ad-specs to inventor/patent hoaxes. But comedy classes fall into that gray area of deceit – like Jesus or psychics or chakra healing – where you can’t prove that it’s a con.”
“I’m grumpy and caustic and miserable all around and my advice isn’t worth a sack of rat-shit either. But I know a raging scam and dream-profiteering when I see it.”
So Doug has decided to fight fire with fire. Hello, Comedy Death Camp.
I won’t dignify the hucksters he’s talking about by mentioning their names. And I won’t spoil the lengthy, venemous, pit-bull attack that Stanhope lays down on them like Armageddon. Instead I suggest - nay, I implore you to read the whole thing verbatim at his website. He rips a few of the charlatans a new asshole, then lays out what he will do if you insist upon giving your money away by trying to pay for something you can only really learn from time and experience.
It’s caustic. It’s brilliant. It’s impeccably written and pitch-perfect. It’s hilariously funny. And it’s all based upon truth.
In other words, Doug Stanhope in a nutshell.
R.I.P. Harvey Pekar. I’m going to read one of your American Splendor comics tonight and watch that great movie about you starring Paul Giamatti. (Speaking of Giamatti, James Adomian absolutely crushed an impression of him last night on Last Comic Standing. More on that in this Friday’s TGIF…)