Last week while doing a search for some comedy on You Tube, I stumbled across a video from a show that Doug Stanhope performed in Austin, Texas in 2004. Anyone who has paid attention to my blog over the past year or so knows that I really dig the type of stand up that Stanhope, Joe Rogan, Bill Burr, and Louis C.K. perform. They seem to be the offspring of the brilliant, but now deceased Bill Hicks, who was every bit as much a social commentator as he was a comic. I love to watch a good hour of stand up, but what made this one appealing, just from the title alone, was the word "incident" and the name "Alex Jones". At that point, I'm all in. Keep in mind that this show was performed just after we had invaded Iraq and there was quite a bit of uncertainty, fear, and tension about the war.
I assume from the video that Stanhope was just going to give his performance. Nothing that merited any special attention, just doing what he does best....making people think and laugh. Alex Jones is asked to introduce Stanhope on to the stage and does so, after about 8 or 9 minutes of New World Order ranting. Jones, for those who are not familiar with him, is a conspiracy theory guy. He is involved in making some really good documentary films (The Obama Deception) and hosts a radio show. He's out there, and tends to go way over the top, but he does provoke thought and discussion. On this night, I'm not sure if it was booze or what, but he just took over the stage. He went on a long rant about how the government sets up dictators so we can have enemies to fight and how asleep the American public is about it. Honestly, there isn't much of a way for me to describe it that is going to be as interesting as seeing it. So, I'll post his opening rant, without the entire show behind it. Here is the first ten minutes, eight of which is Alex Jones going absolutely ape shit. By the end of this, he's arguing with the crowd, and when Stanhope finally takes over, he has to deal with some hostility and high emotions from the audience for the rest of the show.
Stanhope never really gets back on track as far as his act goes, but he starts interacting with the audience, which leads to truly organic and great moments. Yes, this act goes totally off the rails, but there are some great laughs. I'm not sure how many comics would want to push through a show like this, but it's really great to see something so real. 99.9% of the time, any show you pay to watch, is so pre-arranged and set up that you don't get an ounce of spontaneity from the performer. Watching Jones and then seeing Stanhope's face a couple of times when he comes on stage, it's hard not to get the feeling that he was enjoying the chaos that Jones was creating between himself and the audience. If you love stand up that makes you think about our culture, this one is for you. Interesting, annoying and entertaining all at the same time. I tip my cap to Doug Stanhope. He keeps it real!
If you are interested in seeing the show in its entirety, here you go!