If the thought of a comedian yucking it up with jokes to please the masses is your thing, then off the bat I will tell you Doug Stanhope’s new album Oslo-Burning The Bridge to Nowhere is not for you. Perhaps pick up some tickets for a Larry The Cable Guy show or Jeff Dunham DVD.
For anyone still interested, Oslo manages to be a revolutionary album before a single joke is said. Recorded in front of an audience for whom English is a non-native tongue, in a hastily converted warehouse turned stage, and with a scant thirty six hour notice; Oslo is the closest a recorded performance comes to capturing the feel of being in an actual comedy club. It’s a far from perfect performance, Stanhope’s act shows edges of roughness, the audience sometimes takes a few seconds to understand a joke, and the sound is by no means recorded with discerning audiophiles in mind.
What you do get however is eighty minutes of brilliant comedy that is dark, dirty, and at times demented. It never feels like Stanhope is a comic telling jokes, but rather a guy who has just been beaten down for his whole life getting a chance to vent to you after one too many drinks; which in a way he is.
The material is all new but Stanhope does like going to his usual m.o. of addressing the hypocrisy and selfishness in society and interspersing it with vulgarity. He attacks people with children as the biggest polluters on the planet, sympathizes with ugly people as the most unrepresented group, and rails against the idiocy our culture associates with “romance”. Small bits will build up on top of each other super quickly until Stanhope ties everything together with a longer rant. Making the twenty five track album feel very well paced and never like it is dragging or too long.
What Oslo does manage to do is create something that is a combination of smart, dirty, and brilliant all at once. Short of seeing Stanhope in your city’s local club this is the next best thing.