cruel and unusual comedy part 1

Here’s Some Old Bullshit originally posted on Oct. 28th, 2007, where I actually remembered a Doug Stanhope show the next day.

I had my Bill Graham moment last week when I served as promoter of a standing-room-only standup comedy show in ManchVegas. It gave me a few new grey hairs (actually, they just plain fell out), but at least it was a new experience.

Way back in July, a fellow LPNHer who was organizing the annual convention contacted Libertarian comic Doug Stanhope and asked him if he’d be the keynote speaker. If you’re not familiar with Stanhope, here’s an excerpt from his official bio:

Stanhope has been described as a free-thinking nihilist, a vulgar miseriblist, a self-indulgent, drunken washout and a deviant, misanthropic Charles Kuralt. His material ranges from true-life graphic perversion to volatile social criticism. He’s also a bit of a boozehound….He has compiled a wide-ranging television career of dubious achievement.

Now, he is an unabashed big-L Libertarian, and a “famous” (in an incredibly un-PC sort of way) one at that. But if you’ve ever attended an LPNH convention, you know that the average age of the attendees is over 50. Some are quite socially conservative on issues such as abortion, religion, the war in Iraq (in the LP? Please, don’t get me started…). I’ve seen one of Stanhope’s videos, and frankly, I had horrified visions of certain individuals clutching their withered chests and keeling over with shock-and-outrage-induced heart attacks somewhere between the buffet lunch and commencement of the Wonderful World of Robert’s Rules of Order.

Fortunately, Stanhope knows his audience, and declined the invitation, saying “I believe that if I were to do the convention, you’d be asked to leave the party.” He did, however, graciously offer to do a benefit show on behalf of the LPNH, splitting the proceeds 50-50. As my compatriot was already committed to working on the convention, he asked me to spearhead the Stanhope fundraiser, to which I witlessly agreed.

Stanhope would be in the area for a few days in October. My mission: find a cheap (or, preferably, free) venue with a stage, a sound system, and alcohol. I know a few people in New Hampshire who manage or own such venues, and a couple of them are even small-l libertarians. I went first to a fellow Free Stater who opened a bar in Manchester earlier in the year. While not exactly a club, I had heard through the grapevine that he was constructing a private room in the back that might serve my purposes. After face-to-face discussions, it sounded absolutely perfect. There would be a stage, a built-in sound system, and more than enough seating for the expected audience. He wouldn’t even charge me anything, just keep what he made on food and alcohol sales. We made a handshake agreement to commit to one of Stanhope’s available nights (preferably on the weekend), and I left on cloud nine. This was easy! I was brilliant! Score one for Stanhope, my friend’s bar, the LPNH, and me! Just call me Ziegfeld.

to be continued…

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