Doug Stanhope at St David’s Hall – at last

September 23, 2022 by


This was a show that threatened to never happen due to the pandemic. Despite several postponements over the past two years, Stanhope finally took to the stage at St David’s Hall. Judging by the reaction of the crowd when this veteran comic of more than 30 years wearily trudges into the venue’s spotlights in his self-confessed charity shop attire and clutching what looks like a large tumbler of whiskey, it was well worth the wait.

Aside from the release of the show finally taking place, another reason for the rapture from the respectably-sized crowd was due to Doug developing something of a cult following in the UK over the years. His reputation for saying things others won’t or covering topics most will shy away from, has largely spread through word of mouth and from the accolades he has picked up during successful stints during the Fringe Festival. In a rare moment of television coverage, Stanhope was in some short segments for Charlie Brooker’s Screen Wipe and TV Wipe shows on Channel 4. Those big tv gigs were either elusive or perhaps not worth the compromising of his outspoken and anarchic values. Over the course of the evening’s gig, it was no mystery why Stanhope has not enjoyed prime time success in his native America or in the UK. His material veers from the shocking to the downright outrageous. Few however, if any, complained and the laughter was frequent and sustained.

Stanhope claimed to be ‘high on edibles’ on stage during the set which was hard to believe given he delivered two hours of comedy without fluffing his lines, was razor sharp to despatch the odd heckle when it came his way and was able to deliver long monologues that veered way off course only to return expertly to the original topic for a satisfying punchline. He also revealed he had contracted Covid-19 without knowing and only realised until it had gone following hospital tests due to him “feeling like crap every day.”

Given he is perhaps most famous in the UK for delivering a coruscating putdown of the monarchy as an institution on one his segments for Brooker, recent events involving the Windsor family were a notable absence during the evening. Stanhope explained this by saying the set was written for the original tour before the pandemic postponed it a number of times and is therefore, by and large, two years old. Nevertheless, it still seemed a little odd that Stanhope avoided this matter completely given its prominence in the news agenda during his tour. It was no surprise to hear from him that he had been heckled to “TALK ABOUT THE ROYALS!” at a previous show on the tour.

By the end of the night, Stanhope had been on stage for an extra half an hour than billed. Perhaps this was a reward for his fans’ patience and their refusal to seek refunds – a trait he praised in a rare moment of positivity. I get the feeling Stanhope would have been happy to stay for another extra half an hour had there still been whiskey in his glass.

All-in-all, this was a stellar, if at times uncomfortable, evening of comedy expertly delivered by a master at work. His Welsh fans will no doubt be hoping it won’t take so long for him to come back to the capital.


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