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Doug Stanhope, O2 Academy, Birmingham - review

By Juliet Hounam | Theatre & Comedy | Published: | Last Updated:

Controversial comic Doug Stanhope is no stranger to tackling taboo topics - and his show last night at Birmingham's O2 Academy did not disappoint.

Doug Stanhope. Picture from: https://www.facebook.com/officialstanhope/

Performing to an almost sell-out audience at the city centre venue, with a standing ovation greeting him on entrance, he was as provocative and razor-sharp as ever.

Adorned in his trademark old suit and huge tie, Stanhope pushed his angry-drunk routine to the limit, weaving in and out of themes like the seasoned comic that he is.

The star has been on the comedy circuit since the early 90s and knows how to work a rowdy crowd of hecklers, of which there were many.

He might be best known in the UK for his collaborations with Charlie Brooker on Screenwipe. However, Stanhope is a staple of the American comedy scene, even appearing on the Roseanne show just before it was cancelled - though he was keen to point out that that was nothing to do with him.

This was Stanhope’s first visit to Birmingham, and his bleak observations on the people of Brum prompted some surprising cheers from a few in the audience.

He is no stranger to Wolverhampton, however, having performed at the Civic Hall in 2011, and even claims to be a Wolves fan.

“I did one gig in Wolverhampton that was everything that you would expect from an epic Doug Stanhope show," the comic said ahead of the show.

"It had fistfights and violent ejections, as well as screaming, adoring fans pounding on the door as we left. Ever since then, Wolverhampton Wanderers has been my team.”

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Watch our interview with the comedian here:

Comic Doug Stanhope on being a Wolves fan

Brian Hennigan, his Scottish manager who features heavily in Stanhope’s material, even appeared at one point through the curtains to present him with a drink.

Occasionally a brave devotee from the audience would shout out a similar offer, and be met by one of the comedian's blistering insults.

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He touched on many controversial themes throughout the evening with mixed responses, most notably the #MeToo movement, which prompted a few angry heckles and walkouts.

But as Stanhope was keen to point out towards the end of his set, 'how do you deal with the savageness of life without humour?'.

Ever the troublemaker, Stanhope pushed boundaries and explored themes like no other comic.

If dry and jaded isn’t your thing then perhaps don’t bother.

And while he would probably scoff at this observation, behind his dark and cynical style there does seem to be a true philanthropic message that is worth listening to.

This show is undoubtedly not for those who are easily offended, but many continue to believe Doug Stanhope’s comedy makes the world a slightly better place - and rightly so.

Juliet Hounam

By Juliet Hounam
Video Journalist

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