Doug Stanhope at Portsmouth Guildhall

As You Like It, with Jessica Hayles centre. Picture by Keith Pattison

How do you like it? Gender and politics in Shakespeare at the New Theatre Royal

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I had only seen two other American comics live before.

They were both very funny. Neither were anywhere near as funny as Doug Stanhope though.

It’s impossible to tell whether his act is scripted out or is genuinely stream-of-consciousness. My money is on the latter.

Stanhope has gained a certain notoriety, not least for his Twitter attack on The Daily Telegraph’s Allison Pearson after she wrote defending the UK’s laws on euthanasia.

Stanhope devoted a segment of his act to explaining his position on both euthanasia and on Pearson. Like his spiritual antecedents Lenny Bruce and Bill Hicks he is able to take a serious subject, make a pertinent point and make it funny too.

Like Hicks and his cigarettes, Stanhope has beer on stage.

Also like Hicks he has several deeply funny routines about sex, unlike Hicks he hates the UK yet still kept the audience on his side as he slated all aspects of life in the British Isles (cleverly massaging the egos of the audience at the same time by praising our intellect...).

Stanhope is no Bill HIcks though. He’s his own man and like all good performers he borrows some of the best bits from those who have gone before.