Doug Stanhope – No Refunds


Doug Stanhope – No Refunds

By Srikanth Panaman
Saturday, 25 August 2007
There’s this thing about writing that I’ve realized after starting this site.That it doesn’t come naturally to me and I need to be sleepy to really come up with anything hunky-dory. That’s when this mind has total focus without any real world worries about why that chick won’t just shut the fuck up and blow me and such. When I went through a drinking phase though, all I made were embarrassing posts on message boards, so I’ll say that didn’t work for me at all. And I’m too much of a wimp to try out other shit like pot and so on. But not Doug Stanhope. He smokes, drinks and snorts cocaine twice a month. Cocaine, he says, makes him think. Smokes help him write it all down and alcohol gives him the audacity to tell this to the audience.

No Refunds is Doug’s third DVD and this was recorded in Gotham Comedy Club in NY earlier this year and aired on Showtime, unrated of course. My previous and the only other exposure to his works was the CD/DVD Deadbeat Hero released in 2004 and magnanimously reviewed here by Sriram Sharma. Doug says in the introduction bit about the choice of the venue and the city. Paraphrasing at best, “…this is where comedy works, where people are miserable. I’d rather be filming a special at Costa Rica but they don’t need comedians there, they’re already smiling, they’re already happy. So that’s why I’m doing a special here cause it’s the last place I want to be.”

In the three years since Deadbeat Hero, he hasn’t deteriorated like you’d expect your typical drug user to have. One look at the DVD cover, he even reminds one of Spider Jerusalem, the Hunter Thompson-like hero from the stunning futuristic-cyberpunk comic book called Transmetropolitan written by Warren Ellis and drawn by Darick Robertson.


They both hate society and the cities and live elsewhere. Spider in the forest and Doug, some obscure little town in Arizona just a few miles away from the Mexican border.
They’re both chain smokers, heavy drinkers and drug users. They have the same enthusiastic attitude towards them.

Both misanthropes, nihilistic and full of hate. Spider is a journalist out to tell everyone the truth and Doug is an all out libertarian, even seen here wearing a t-shirt saying “Libertarian” parodying the Yankees jersey.


Obviously, both are pissed off atheists and will go to any extent to tell people how they hate religion. Doug here says he’ll rip on any and every religion out there simply because it’s a religion. Catholics and even more brilliantly, Jews fall prey this time around.
In short, think of Spider Jerusalem as a stand-up comedian, he’d be closer to Doug Stanhope than anyone else. Of course, being all gonzo, Spider is extremely famous and Doug, well he should be. He’s been on TV and in his own words from his myspace page, “If you only know me from television, then you aren’t familiar with what I do. Television is shit but you take easy money when you can. Live shows are the only true freedom of speech left. Get out of the house. We will only be alive for so long and no good stories ever came from your couch or getting up on time for work.”

He’s also right about the freedom of speech bit. During this era of political, religious and social douchebaggery all around the world and especially in the States, people like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are out to teach the first worlders a thing or two about atheism and science and Noam Chomsky goes about doing his political activism by talking regularly to mouth-breathing university students. All these people organize conventions and conferences to spread their word other than writing books and releasing their videos/documentaries of course. And what’s better than comedy to do it? Hell, jokes always work. If only someone like Subhash Chandra Bose had some sense of humour, he’d probably have had some success in the Indian Independence struggle and not just be famous for opposing Gandhi’s tactics and dying mysteriously.

Spider, er…Doug does to stand-up what Maddox did to Internet and Southpark to Television. Tell people their opinions about various (sensitive/taboo) topics with a great dose of extreme humour.  And they all work. In fact, all the three have successfully tackled the issue about immigrants. Maddox’s and Doug’s come the closest to each other and Southpark too, did it brilliantly on the episode called Goobacks. Though, he isn’t anywhere near as popular as either Southpark or Maddox so fret not, we still don’t have shitty copy cats to deal with.


The DVD is divided into 16 topics and other than the ones already mentioned, he talks about sleeping sober, national pride, living for ones sins, how this generation has pussied out but somehow has balls on the internet and even closes the show with some good ripping on the Yankees.


I must warn though. What Doug does is not for everyone. It’s for pissed off libertarian-like people who can dig his style of ranty nihilistic gross out humour. One also needs to be cool with the way he improvises on stage and at times stutters, unlike regular stand-up comedians who follow a well-rehearsed set of jokes. He’ll invariably make the most of you go “sicko” (funnily, one of his earlier albums is titled so). Doug says about large parts of the audience frequently walking out, “People will leave. I go on stage, it’s like I’m leading you into battle — you’re not all going to be here at the end”.  I for one completely revere what you do Doug and will do what I can to make more people sit up and take notice.


My only disappointment is with this DVD running at only 70 minutes, so if you’re a newcomer I’d suggest you rather give Deadbeat Hero a shot first.