Interview: Doug Stanhope on Roseanne, a hatred of sitcoms, working in a gay sex call centre & his Australian tour

Hours after landing in Australia, we spoke with US comedian, three time author, podcast host and former host of The Man ShowDoug Stanhope. He exclusively spoke to the AU’s Lachlan Mitchell about his upcoming appearance on an episode of the Roseanne revival, Roseanne Barr’s twitter feed, why he hates sitcoms, why he feels his season of The Man Show (which he co-hosted with Joe Rogan) failed, his new book This Is Not Fame and the area of Australia he is most excited to visit.

We had originally pitched the idea of doing a filmed interview at a brewery in Sydney but was met with a reply from the man himself that stated, “I’m not much for breweries, leaving my hotel or talking to people and this sounds like it involves a lot of that.” A few weeks went by and a date and time was agreed upon to do an interview over the phone. “Hello.. isn’t this much nicer than a brewery?” Doug immediately answered in a sarcastic and antagonistic prod with a laugh. “I’m on a balcony 28 stories above Melbourne smoking a cigarette”, he continued before adding the weather and view of the city was “…absolutely perfect. I might even have to put on sunscreen” as we begun our chat.

How was the flight down?

Oh, I love it. It was 24-hours total.

How could you possibly love that?

Ah, Xanax and cocktails. There was a bar on the plane you can sit at. I can sleep like a baby in a moving vehicle, and on a plane with the lay-down seats… I sleep great.

You’re in Australia for 3-4 weeks, how do you get used to such long stretches touring overseas and avoiding becoming restless and bored then?

I have a stack of books. I can’t reread at home – too many distractions and shit going on. When I’m overseas I just dig into books.

What are you reading at the moment?

I have a bunch of shit. I’m reading something called The Stowaway [by Laurie Gwen Shapiro] which is about a kid who stowed away on some Antarctic adventure in 1928. I got some book on Australian history that’s looks like a pain in the ass to read. 600 pages of tiny print. It’s called The Fatal Shore [by Robert Hughes].

Have you heard much about Australia’s history?

If I did, I don’t retain anything..

I recently heard you talking about Captain Cook in Hawaii so I’m sure you probably at least know he’s the main person associated with ‘discovering’ Australia?

[Laughs] Yeah, one of the early illegal immigrants. Yeah then I have a bunch of other shit. Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception which I haven’t read in a long time and [Dale Carnegie‘s] How To Win Friends and Influence People, just to be funny in airport bars.

Last week on The Howard Stern Show, Roseanne Barr mentioned that you’ll be in an upcoming episode of Roseanne. What can you say about the role?

Oh yeah? I didn’t know she mentioned that. It’s like two lines. I suck. I said two lines and I kept fucking them up even though I did two. It’s not a major part, I’m just a guy at a bar – I’m kind of type-cast like that.

So it wasn’t a hard role to get into?

Doing a live sitcom like that, it’s gut-wrenchingly fake. You’re doing a scene six to eight times in different angles and then you have a studio audience that’s coached to laugh even though they’ve just heard the fucking joke that’s not even a laugh out loud joke anyway. You’re like, “This is so phony”. That’s the medium. I was happy to do it cause I love Roseanne, but I don’t think I could ever do that for a living.

Yeah, it seems like it’d be a difficult place to get an authentic and real-vibe off an audience and play off of it since they’re instructed to laugh at nearly every line.

It’s hard enough to film a stand up special. The last one I did, I remember I missed a big pay-off chunk in a bit and I had to go back and do it again and just having to do it that once, I didn’t have to repeat myself, but I did the pay-off line so they could edit it in later, and even that’s painful. Sitcoms are just not funny. I don’t watch any sitcoms, the live audience stuff like that – it seems as antiquated as vaudeville.

Yeah, it seems too calculated and premeditated.

I remember watching Letterman once on acid where it finally became painfully clear that it is as prearranged as a sitcom – “So I heard you went water skiing?”, no you didn’t hear that [Laughs] When you have to play to the camera rather than the audience it’s completely unnatural as a standup to ignore the audience even when The Man Show. I wanted to play to the people I’m looking at.

So how did you get around that huge obstacle of wanting to play to the audience, but had to play to the camera instead?

I got around it by putting out a show that stunk. [Laughs]

Back to Roseanne, you must have heard how it debuted to 18, some figures even say 22 million people which is unprecedented into today’s landscape of hundreds of channels and streaming platforms. What did you make of that?

It falls into line with the whole Trump thing. She’s getting a lot of legs with that. She’s out of her fucking mind, she’s crazy as shit. If you read her Twitter feed, one tweet will discount the last. Are you pro-Israel? Are you pro-Palestine? I don’t even understand what you’re saying half the time. I first started hanging out with her when we met in Hawaii. We went out for liquid breakfast. I said, “Hey, people are going to worry about you because it’s been 45 minutes and you haven’t tweeted anything!” and she said, “You know what? I’m bat-shit crazy and people don’t know the half of it!”. She’s so fucking funny, I don’t give a shit who she supports.

Especially when certain backlash for the show and character is that she is simply playing a Trump supporter, like they don’t exist.

Yeah, well in the show she’s just a Trump supporter and not the actual Roseanne, who probably also believes in the Illuminati.

Yeah, none of the Hillary-Clinton-killed-somebody ideas have made it into the show, she’s just playing a supporter devoid of those views.

[Laughs] Yeah, she believes in someone who actually exists. It’s working in her favour, and she doesn’t give a shit.

Similarly, you are known for not having much of a filter and speaking your mind in your standup since you began. Where did that approach for you come from?

You talk about what you know about. I didn’t have a lot of opinions when is started because I was 23 years old and all I cared about was getting pussy. That’s pretty much all I talked about. I didn’t have a point of view. I have no Trump material, everybody else has it, why bother? It bores me. It’s interesting to watch sometimes. I don’t think I have anything to add, I have enough shit going on in my own life.

What can Australians expect at these shows?

An hour, an hour fifteen, maybe an hour and a half if I’m drunk and on a roll. It’s not going to be anything that is surprising to people, it’ll all be stuff that you would expect. I’m not born-again or clean and sober, I haven’t turned over any new leaves. You’re not going to be disappointed. It’s all in that same kind of arena.

It’s those type of classic Doug Stanhope stories that make up your new book, This Is Not Fame. One of my favourites is about your brief stint at a call centre…

Yeah I got a job at a gay phone-sex call centre that was always in the paper and my friends would always claim they couldn’t find a day job. I did it on mushrooms on a fucking graveyard shift. I ended up working two shifts and made them all prank phone calls. If I had recordings of those calls I’d sell them as an album.

What type of things can you remember saying? I mean that’s a very vulnerable setting to have someone fuck with you.

That’s what I said in the book. Once you get a guy jerking off, you know what it’s like. You’re in the middle of fucking a girl and all of a sudden she goes, “Oh, I have AIDS,” and you’re about to cum, you finish. [Laughs] You know, you wait till they’re in it and then tell them, “Oh yeah, I’d love for you to fuck me in the ass but I just found out I have Stage 4 colon cancer. I guess it isn’t a good time to bring it up. Go ahead, fuck me in the ass just shove it past that malignant lump, let’s get it done.” You get it to a place where they pause, then you reel them back in with real gay phone sex and then hit ‘em again.

There is also one of my favorite ever blurbs I’ve seen on the back of the book from Marilyn Manson.

Oh I asked him if he would write a blurb for my book and texted me back and said, “Yes.” But he never got back to me so I just put “Yes” on [the back cover] [Laughs]

You’re going all around Australia on this visit – any particular highlights you’re looking forward too?

I get to play Hobart and that’s one of the great things. I’ve never been to Tasmania; I don’t know a soul. It’s really nice to know you have no obligations. I wanted to go to Tasmania last time, even if just for fun. I thought it was its own country till I played here last time. But everything people warn me about – “Why would you want to go there? It’s a bunch of inbred, alcoholic yahoos”, the more people shit talk about it, the better it sounds!

Doug Stanhope Australia and NZ Tour Dates

April 7th – Hobart, Tasmania – Hobart Brewing  Co. – SOLD OUT
April 10th – Canberra, ACT – The Street
April 11th – Adelaide, SA – Capri Theatre
April 13th – Sydney, NSW – The Orpheum
April 14th – Sydney, NSW – North’s Auditorium – SOLD OUT
April 16th – Brisbane, QLD –  The Greek Club
April 18th – Perth, WA – Empire
April 20th – Melbourne. VIC – Astor Theatre
April 21st – Melbourne. VIC – Astor Theatre
April 23rd – Auckland, NZ – Hollywood Cinema

For tickets and information on all his shows, books and podcast you can visit HERE.