It was 3 p.m. on a Thursday when I caught Doug Stanhope on the phone. He was en route to record a podcast, he said—and was waiting for his 'shrooms to kick in.
The standup comedian and Bisbee-area resident has been described as obscene, vulgar, profane and perverted. He is a man not afraid to speak openly about his drug use and perusing of online porn. He's clearly not for the easily offended.
According to Stanhope, he's not the type to do benefit shows. "As far as I remember, I did one once for legalizing weed, and I'm not even a pot-smoker," he said. However, following a major act of kindness to him, Stanhope is now doing something nice: All proceeds from his upcoming show at the Rialto Theatre this Saturday will go to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.
Why would a man who compares the crudeness of his show to sadomasochistic porn want to benefit innocent animals?
Well ... for years, Stanhope didn't think much about the odd shape of his tummy, which protruded abnormally near his self-proclaimed "beer belly." In fact, he thought pulling up his shirt was a funny self-introduction when he lacked something witty to say.
Last year, he learned that the strange sticking-out of his outie belly button was actually a medical condition called an umbilical hernia. Although it wasn't life-threatening, a nurse friend mentioned nasty potential side effects—and that was reason enough for Stanhope to begin posting online bribe offers to any doctor willing to rid him of his belly bulge.
All Stanhope had to offer prospective doctors were show tickets, autographed CDs, DVDs and a "Fuck the Yankees" T-shirt. Luckily, some Tucson anesthesiologists are fans, and they gathered some willing doctors and agreed to do the surgery free. According to his doctors, the surgery ultimately would have cost between $8,000 and $15,000.
"I was like, 'Fuck. How do I even say thank you?" he said.
To show his appreciation, he agreed to do a performance in Tucson benefiting a charity of the doctors' choice, which turned out to be the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.
The comedy show is titled Doug Stanhope and Friends. Comics Neil Hamburger, Henry Phillips, Lynn Shawcroft, Brody Stevens, Brendon Walsh and Garrett Staab will join Stanhope onstage. Nowhere Man and Whiskey Girl will provide the musical accompaniment.
"I started out with Twittering everyone I did or didn't know, some who are famous—Dane Cook, Michael Vick and Jim Gaffigan—anyone I could think of that was a name."
For no reason in particular, Stanhope has been name-dropping Sarah Silverman as much as possible, in the hopes that she just might show up.
Stanhope's friends agreed to do the show for free. Although Stanhope notes that he was unable to capture any "big swingin' dicks for names," he confessed that if it weren't his show, he wouldn't do it, either.
"I'm paying all their expenses out of pocket," Stanhope said of his friends who are participating. "It's all going to the Humane Society. I don't even think (the Humane Society is) behind it, to tell you the truth. No one told them that we were doing it on their behalf until a month ago."
If you are planning to attend the show simply because it supports a worthy cause, be warned: Stanhope's comedy isn't for what he describes as "charitable, nice people." He encouraged all prospective audience members to check out his comedy on YouTube.
"If you don't like my comedy, we have six other comics on the bill who are brilliant," Stanhope added. "It's better comedy than Laffs brings in a year, and it goes to fuzzy kittens and starving puppies."
Stanhope said he has no plans to water down his routine for the show. He jokes that the show may include videos of "animal porn," such as a puppy humping a chicken while Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" plays in the background. He said he also intends to auction off his mother's ashes.
Why in the hell would someone want Stanhope's mother's ashes?!
"Because my fans are creepy as shit," Stanhope said. "And I'm sure eBay has a rule against it."