On November 21st 2022, just a few days before Thanksgiving, Doug Stanhope began updating his twitter followers with some unexpected news. His Bisbee, Arizona house, which he has lived in since 2005, had caught fire.
In the ensuing days, Stanhope shared news about his journey, from a Thanksgiving in a hotel to his ensuing struggles with insurance. On his podcast, he also opened up about some of the details of the fire, the whole time injecting his trademark frank comedic commentary.
Some of the details, according to Stanhope, are still a bit up in the air. At the time of this writing it appears that the fire was caused by some faulty wiring. The comedian says that little of emotional value was destroyed, save a certain cherished bath towel. And to assuage the fears of fans of Stanhope’s fashion, his trademark thrift store suits were not burnt up.
Obviously Stanhope is using this difficult moment as a source of comedy, but he has let people see occasionally that emotionally, this is more serious than he is letting on. Some may be surprised about how open and nonchalant Stanhope is largely acting throughout the whole incident. But fans know that this abrasively honesty is a trademark of Stanhope’s comedy and personality.
The comedian has made a name for himself partially from a sort of brash overexposure of difficult parts of his personal life. He famously made dark jokes about his experience helping his mother commit suicide, for example. It may be off-putting at first, but his complete openness about his difficulties helps to break down the barrier that comedians often talk about between themselves and their audience.
Comedians rely on audiences buying in. It’s hard to win over an audience if they see you as a phony. And Stanhope’s willingness to embrace very personal and difficult conversations immediately lends him credibility in a way that helps his comedy. Making jokes can be a coping mechanism, but it can also be a way to connect with people. With Stanhope, there is always a way to make any situation, no matter how unpleasant, a little more bearable through comedy.