Five thoughts: Doug Stanhope at the Plaza Showroom (September 27)

We really have to wonder if there will ever be another Doug Stanhope show at the Plaza after he performed to a mostly sober crowd there on Saturday, September 27.

1. Doug Stanhope’s shows are well-known for their drunken audiences (Stanhope’s manager, Brian Hennigan, actually started Saturday's show by imploring everyone in the crowd to drink heavily), but on that score, Saturday night’s show was an anomaly. Despite the show starting a bit late and the inclusion of two opening comedians—Andy Andrist and Mat Becker—most people in my vicinity had one, maybe two, drinks the entire show. Was this the most well-behaved Stanhope crowd in history?

2. Turns out, it was more the result of the Plaza having only one bar open in the venue—and staffing it with only one seriously busy bartender, making it nearly impossible for anyone to achieve a satisfactory level of inebriation within the show’s two-hour-plus running time. It took one of our tablemates no less than 40 minutes to buy two mixed drinks for himself and his date. Audience members could be heard yelling, “Only one bar!” to Stanhope as he went off on several rants about his way-too-sober crowd. “You guys are a tight-ass audience … there’s something wrong with you. F*cking loosen up.” Easier said than done, Doug.

(We contacted a Plaza rep about the issue, who responded: "For a show with a large attendance such as the Stanhope show, it is the Plaza’s policy to have two bars open. Unfortunately, prior to the start of the show, one of the cash registers at the portable bar in the showroom crashed and was not operational. This left only one bar within the showroom. In order to alleviate some of the congestion at the bar, the cocktail waitresses in the room were retrieving drinks from bars on the casino floor. There were some complaints about views being obstructed because of the line. Management authorized drink comps to compensate those patrons who had their views obstructed." They went on to say that "Customer satisfaction is a top priority at the Plaza and unfortunately an unforeseen technical malfunction occurred and they dealt with it as quickly as they could given the circumstances.")

3. Stanhope’s frustration with the tone of the room didn’t improve when a weird noise began emanating from the bar area, the sound of a carbon dioxide tank spitting out air. “Is there a f*cking rat in a Ferris wheel over there?” Stanhope said, eventually getting so annoyed that he strayed from his set and yelled in the direction of the bar ("Cut the cord! Kill the baby!") until it stopped—nearly three full minutes later. When it did, he screamed, “We made that happen with our minds, and we can do the same thing at blackjack and roulette!” All I can say is, rough night for that bar area.

4. Bar issues aside, Stanhope delivered a set that was almost nonstop laughs, even when talking about his body's various ailments: hernias, balding spot (don’t call it a “bald spot,” whatever you do!) and what he’ll do with his toes if/when diabetes sets in—making them into a necklace that (incorrectly) spells “Jagermeister.” The laughs didn’t even stop when Stanhope continued to berate his crowd as “people who are dead inside.” During one brief lull, he mused, “Did someone get comped into this for winning a f*cking Big Spin?”

5. Lovers of vodka, it’s on. Stanhope’s “unofficial” sponsor is Popov (“every night, every show, against their will”), and he had a blind taste challenge for anyone who thinks there’s a quality difference between that and, say, Grey Goose: “We’re mixing it with Yoo-hoo to make White Trash Russians. If you can beat me two out of three, that’s a f*cking miracle, because it’s all the same sh*t.” And for those who call Popov “a homeless person’s vodka,” here’s Stanhope's answer: “Yeah! Yeah it is, and I’m a homeless person kind of comedian. That’s why I’m playing the Plaza, motherf*cker!”

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Magazine's managing editor, having previously served as associate editor at Las Vegas Weekly, assistant features ...

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