Published Jun 21, 2016Exclaim! is reviewing every standup comedy special currently available on Netflix Canada, including this one. You can find a complete list of reviews so far here.
Doug Stanhope has been slinging his irreverent brand of standup around the globe for 26 years now. His brash, intelligent, barbed humour has earned him the respect of a veritable who's-who of standup comedians and the diehard admiration of an international cult following. While never quite achieving mainstream success — he certainly doesn't aspire to make his comedy easily stomach-able for those prone to offense — he has cemented his reputation as the comedian's comedian perhaps more immovably than anyone in the industry.
His 2013 Netflix special Beer Hall Putsch — a title inspired by Adolf Hitler's first attempt at a coup in 1920s Germany — is typical Doug Stanhope brilliance. His brutally incisive critique of just about anything is reminiscent of the title. Few people can rally an audience behind a cause or an idea the way Doug Stanhope can.
Stanhope's political material in Beer Hall Putsch is particularly brilliant. His commentary on the Occupy Wall Street movement is more than just hilarious, it's particularly difficult to argue with. It's enough to make even the most stalwart of organic, hippie protesters wonder how much it would cost to get the beer-swigging, chain-smoking comedian into their war room.
Stanhope also goes into great length regarding his experience with assisted dying. Stanhope's account of helping his mother end her life — about which he has recently written a book called Digging Up Mother — is surprisingly a highlight among an hour of non-stop highlights. In theory, one might have expected the special would take a turn towards sombre sobriety at the thought of such a subject. Not so with Stanhope. His approach to the subject is no less crass, well-measured or high octane than the rest of his material. That's not to say it isn't a very integrally moving part of his special, but he doesn't have to change in his overall delivery to make it so. It's a testament to his paramount ability as a storyteller. It's unforgettable.
As in all of his past work, Doug Stanhope's Beer Hall Putsch takes an axe to the root of hypocrisy, stupidity, ego and prudishness. No subject is off limits, and Beer Hall Putsch is an onslaught of laughs start to finish. Whether he's tackling self-serving cancer fundraisers, the loss of his mother or the merits of alcoholism, Doug Stanhope is always smart, always blue and forever one of comedy's greatest contrarians.