What can I say about Doug Stanhope – people either know his comedy work or they don’t. Whether or not the name rings a bell, there’s a healthy chance you’ve seen him. He was a prankster on Spy TV, co-hosted The Man Show with comedian and podcaster Joe Rogan, and has an admirable collection of stand-up specials under his belt. He has also guest starred on Louis CK’s hit television show Louie, started his own podcast in 2013, has been collaborating with actor Johnny Depp, and recently drafted a book called “Digging Up Mother: A Love Story.”
When I moved to Bisbee, Arizona in 2011, I hadn’t ever heard of Doug Stanhope (although I realized after-the-fact that I had seen several of his works). During the annual Bisbee Home Tour, an elderly gentleman – who had been regaling me with treacherously graphic Vietnam war stories – told me about this interesting house he’d toured over in the Warren District – it was the Stanhope Compound. A few months later, my girlfriend and I were invited to a Superbowl party over there and all the pieces fell into place.
He was a gracious host. A pretty and relatively quiet guy, it seemed – a radical shift from his opinionated, anarchic, cynical stage performances. From everything I’ve gathered, he chose Bisbee because it’s a remote location, away from the madness of Hollywood. He spends a tremendous amount of time on the road, so it makes sense to have a quiet, sleepy, bizarre little high desert town to retreat to.
In the years since then, I’ve consumed just about as much of his comedy and writing as possible. His cynicism and outright rage at our political system, at social justice activism, and at art in general – almost always clutching a cocktail – absolutely resonates with me. I also found it refreshing to wander about the grocery store or stand in line at a local bodega for a cup of coffee and see a man like Stanhope – a successful performer and, by all accounts, a celebrity – milling about and saying hello to people just like anybody else; no grandeur, no need for a posse of sycophantic parasites, he doesn’t appear to treat anybody like they’re beneath him.
If the name doesn’t ring a bell, check him out. I believe Beer Hall Putsch is still on Netflix, and there are plenty of clips on YouTube to dig through.
Today’s image was taken at The Bisbee Royale in the winter of 2012, during a stand-up performance filmed by the BBC. He returned to The Royale in November 2015 to shoot No Place Like Home, which you can watch here. He’s a genuine talent and I am very honored to have had the chance to wander around backstage and take his photograph.