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Comedy Review: Doug Stanhope’s An uncompromising light in the darkness

Cleverly constructed: Doug Stanhope’s show forces people to think about difficult subjects


Doug Stanhope

On nationwide tour ★★★★✩

‘THE darker life gets, the more it’s your responsibility to make it fun,’ says US comic Doug Stanhope, following an apologetic disclaimer that, for those who know this uncompromising functioning alcoholic (there were certainly enough of his fans to pack out the suitably grungy Brixton Academy), is predictably tongue-in-cheek. ‘Life is too short not to get the joke.’

So if you’re going to stick two fingers up at censors’ sensibilities, where better to start with than a rape joke? One that is challenging, morally complex and so cleverly constructed, its payoff means you either agree with rape — or agree with racism.

#MeToo gets a subversive spin too, as do other such bleak topics as child death, though the journeys to get there — a swirl of seedy motels and dive bars, the way this self-proclaimed lowlife prefers it — are frequently more memorable than the destination.

That’s because, as unapologetic as it is, the show is also smart and nuanced, forcing people to think about difficult subjects and the shades of grey within them. And in these easily offended, binary times, we can’t argue with that.

Stanhope plays Hammersmith Apollo on Saturday,