Doug Stanhope is lewd, crude and obnoxious and he wears those things like a hard-won badge of honor.
The 39-year-old Arizona comedian has been described, sometimes in the same paragraph, as a lazy, drunk miscreant and one of the funniest men in America.
He's coming to soon to a club -- Thursday night upstairs BBC, 2025 E. North Ave. -- and possibly an election near you.
The guy known who became a cult figure through biting standup and appearances on "The Man Show" (post-Kimmel) and "Girls Gone Wild" videos, will announce on May 3 that he is seeking the Libertarian Party nomination for the biggest comedy contest of them all: the presidential election.
"All my ideas are pretty much alcohol-fueled," Stanhope said from a tour stop in Fargo. "This is probably one of them. But, we're doing it May 3. We're announcing."
How will an entertainer fit in with the "traditional" candidates?
"They're all entertainers on some level," he said. "They're just not very good at it. When you hear about campaigns, they always talk about the hardest part being the travel. I'm on the road 40-some weeks a year, going from town to town and talking to a roomful of strangers in every city across America and trying to get them to like me. That's what campaigning is. That's the part I have down pat.
"I'm like herpes: I keep coming to your town and showing up every few months."
What other presidential candidate would have to stones to compare himself to a sexually transmitted disease? And, what other comedian has the huevos to book himself into rock clubs, like the BBC, that don't normally host comedy shows?
Stanhope, both times.
"I like playing the rock clubs, even though there is more of a sense of chaos," he said. "It doesn't feel like a movie theater, where people think they're going to come in and just sit there for 90 minutes and not move. There is better interaction. Even though it can get out of hand some nights, I think it makes the show better. It gives it a much-needed shot of adrenaline."
Stanhope will still play a few comedy clubs, but only the ones he enjoys. "Some of the brand-name places are worried about the comment cards and the chicken wing sales than the art," he said. "You make your own bed. I'd rather be playing to 100 people who are having fun than doing a bigger room with people just sitting there."
Asked about the commercialization and homogenization of the comedy industry, Stanhope freelances a riff that could -- and someday probably will -- work its way into his stage act.
"The comedy industry is no different than any other business in America," he said. "They care about profit, not quality. The mediocrity in the entertainment industry runs across the board. Almost all movies you see today are remakes. Every TV show is like a retarded clone of itself or a rip-off of "American Idol." When you talk about music, I couldn't name a band that has interested me since Pearl Jam."
Stanhope, who is sandwiching the Milwaukee date between gigs Wednesday night at High Noon Saloon in Madison and this weekend in Chicago, could try to change his industry. But, he'd rather change the country.
His platform? "Less government is better," he said. "Less government and more freedom. At least the Libertarian Party has a platform. I really don't know how to describe a Republican or a Democrat any more. What's the dictionary definition?
"They don't really stand for anything, except trying to take away your freedom and your money."
While the major-party candidates worry about things like focus groups and fundraising, Stanhope's biggest concern as he drives to shows is the same one that has dogged him for years.
"My biggest fear is the pain I have from every hangover," he said. "I'm terrified of getting any terminal illness where the symptoms are the same as a bad hangover."
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.