Doug Stanhope sat down with Ron Bennington at SiriusXM’s studios to tape an hour episode of a new interview series, Headliners, in front of a live studio audience last Tuesday. It was a phenomenal hour, with big laughs and great conversation as Doug talked about having panic attacks, and going through difficult times when longtime girlfriend Bingo went into a coma last year, and of course he talked about his new book- This is Not Fame: From What I Re-memoir- which he said is the book he really wanted to write. In the book, Stanhope tells war stories about sleeping with hookers, drinking and all the things he says got away with because he’s not more famous. Stanhope said he’s proud to call the book a “degenerate fuck up biography” and that unlike many other “degenerate fuck up biographies”, in this one the author doesn’t sober up 2/3 of the way through, or drone on about their childhood.
He also read out loud one of the funniest letters you’ll ever hear a comedian or anyone else read. He wrote to a Gawker writer a few years ago when that writer asked Doug some questions about the Louis C.K. scandal.
Stanhope provided a little background for those not obsessively following every detail of the story– decades ago, a friend of his told him that she had watched Louis C.K. jerk off, and had consented to it, because she thought it was funny. So when in 2012 reports began circulating that “America’s funniest comedian and sitcom auteur” had some inappropriate sexual habits that involved jerking off in front of women who didn’t want him to, Stanhope had some inside insight into the story. At the time, he thought it would be funny to come forward and confess to being the mystery jacker, mostly because he thought it would be funny to take credit for being America’s funniest comedian and sitcom auteur.
Three years later, Stanhope says, a Gawker writer approached him. “He wanted to know what I knew because I took credit earlier and he knew that it was facetious,” Stanhope told the audience. Doug wrote back, and the letter is too funny to summarize, so here it is, transcribed in its entirety. You’ll never forget the phrase “clammed off.” You can watch and listen to Stanhope reading the letter to the audience below.
“Jordan, your infatuation with comics masturbating in front of one in front of one another is as troubling as it is uninformed. Comics on any professional level masturbate at each other in the same way urban dancers might step to one another. Your opponent can then choose to try to match you and top your style and intensity or simply concede defeat and walk away. Blocking the door with your back is an unspoken regulation. Not to keep someone from leaving, but to keep non-comics from walking in and blowing it out of proportion. This isn’t just a comic common practice with male comedians either. I can’t count the number of times lady comics have clammed off at me in a green room. Tig Notaro, Bonnie Mcfarlane, Jackie Kashian, and even the legendary Roseanne Barr have all beat me under the table figuratively and literally. Did I cry foul or shout, hey, I have to use that microphone. no, I chalked it up to pay your dues and pulled stronger wood the next time. It’s not about being sexually untoward, it’s an age-old comedy practice meant to instilled courage, pride, and a pump each other up before the show.
“The conveniently anonymous comedian sources may have stepped on an open mic here or there, but that doesn’t qualify you as a true working comic any more than going to the batting cages makes you a baseball player, baseball players who also legendary legendarily jerk off in front of one another. I once went head to head with former Atlanta Braves, pitcher John Rocker, who used the same hand technique as his slider and made me look a fool. Andy Kindler is a proficient club wanker, notorious for turning his back to you during the ordeal. Maria Bamford prefers to smudge it into a window. Which is why I never got ground room floors on the road with her. Ron White never even puts down his cigar and Scotch. These people aren’t perverts. They’re sophisticates with a respect for tradition.
As for the alleged female comedy duo in Aspen luring other acts to their room with the promise of illicit narcotics. You had to remember the fucking allegations at the time. You penned an article alluding to me, making spank in front of them. Yet coyly left out the fact that they had really shitty weed. That’s yellow journalism. I’d offer you the old adage, write about what you know, and that certainly isn’t stand-up comedy. Slapping off one’s genitals in private comedy circles is as much a staple of it as much as stable as the joy buzzer or whoopee cushion. The original Friars Club Roasts were barred door bukkake sessions mostly because everyone back then was scared the other comics would steal their jokes. If you want to crucify Louis C.K., it should be for pirating my overhand downward twist execution without giving me credit.
You can hear the entire hour conversation from the Headliners series today on SiriusXM’s Raw Dog at 2pm, and it will repeat throughout the weekend including Saturday at 10am, Sunday at 1pm and Monday at 8am.
This is Not Fame: From What I Re-memoir, won our Readers Poll for the best book in comedy in 2017, is available on Amazon, iTunes and everywhere books are sold. It’s a must-read for any fan of “degenerate fuck up biographies” which, lets face it, is everyone.
In addition to hosting Headliners, Ron Bennington co-hosts the Bennington Show daily on SiriusXM’s Raw Dog channel 99, and has hosted nearly 200 episodes of his infamosu Unmasked series. Unmasked, which began in 2008, documents the careers of the most interesting comedy writers, directors, filmmakers, actors, screenwriters, satirists, political comedians, comedic musicians and of course, stand up comedians in the business. It is a veritable archive of the greatest comedy of our time. Past Unmasked guests have included Joan Rivers, Bob Newhart, Amy Schumer, Dan Aykroyd, Simon Pegg, Paul Feig, Jim Jefferies, Gilbert Gottfried, Louis C.K., David Brenner, Brian Regan and over 150 more comedy greats.