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My First Week Living In Los Angeles [with Doug Stanhope]

My friend Doug [Stanhope] is finally coming to my home town. I've known Doug for about 22 years. He's my generation's comic. There's no one else like Doug. Prolific. Invective. Mercifully merciless.  

I have a million "Doug" stories. Like everyone else who's had the joy of swimming in his orbit - we've all got stories. The Death Valley Parties. When He Talked Hot Neighbour Chick Into Leaving Him Her Car Keys And He Painted Her SUV Purple AND Made A Mixed Tape Of Songs That Contained The Word Purple While She Away. He drove it around to where were living and parked it out front, giggling maniacally as the stereo cranked, Purple Rain. The time we Woke Up To Find A Local Cafe Sign In The House After A Drunken Walk Home and he was genuinely perplexed. The Day After in Playa When Two Girls Stripped Naked To Answer The Door When The Booze Delivery Man Arrived. The poor guy was so flustered he handed over the delivery, the change, all his tips AND his car keys before walking away with a story he knew NO ONE would believe (he had to come back for his car keys). Crossing The Mexican Border With A Wheelchair Andy Had Swapped It's Disabled Owner For a Bottle Of Jägermeister. Fair and square. She need Jäger and Andy needed a wheelchair.  The New Years parties in Bisbee. I came home pregnant from one of those... you get the picture.

One story I was reminded of recently was when I first moved to LA. Ben and I were relocating from Denver to Los Angeles and I went ahead to get things organised. Doug was working on the Man Show [some say, his Magnum Opus] at the time so he handed over his house keys and said, "Me and Andy [Andrist] are staying on The Lot - just help yourself. See you on the weekend." The house that Doug had a the time was a little bungalow in Venice - a little two bedroom shack and a smaller bungalow next door that he used for an 'office'. The little house had an enclosed front yard filled with a BBQ, a giant palm tree, even gianter ashtrays and various oversized TV set props. The office next door had a covered porch and low brick fence. Doug let Patti - a homeless woman stay on the porch.  Occassionally her boyfriend, Van would stay too. That way they were under cover, technically off the streets and hopefully, a bit safer. 

Doug and Andy came home on the weekend and the three of us sat around drinking, laughing and watching movies. It was late. Patti had been wandering in and out of the house during the day. Slightly more agitated that normal. Doug thought that the violent movie we were watching was perhaps not appropriate for Patti [or minors] so he asked her to go 'home'. She stomped through the kitchen and left. A little while later we heard Van screaming. "Patti! Stop it! You're hurting me!" 

All three of us ran to the front yard. Doug was on the phone, he covered the mouth piece and yelled, "Patti!" and to us, "This is why we can't have nice things." Andy leapt up on the [6ft] fence and because he's Andy, then jumped over it - in to the fight. "Put the knife down, Patti!" Doug hung up his call and punched 911 into his phone.

Doug and I, not being Andys at all, went back in to the bungalow and out the front door to get around to the house next door to watch out for Andy. We could hear Van pleading for help, Patti screaming and Andy yelling at her to, "drop the fucken knife, Patti!" Doug handed me his phone, switched his cigarette to the other hand and picked up a chair that was on the front porch. He used that to 'trap' Patti while Andy kicked the knife away. Van was bleeding so I ran back inside and got some towels.

Chaos. Utter chaos. I could hear the boys joking, Patti yelling and Van questioning, "Why would you do that to me Patti? Why? I love you, Patti. I love you." I handed Andy the towels. He pressed them over Van's stomach wound. "Am I doing right? You used to be a nurse. Am I doing this right?" I looked at Van's ashen face, "How are yo, Buddy?" He looked up at me, "I'm so confused." I looked at Andy, "Yup, you're doing it right."

Doug's phone rang in my hand. He was still holding Patti down with the chair, so I answered it. 


"This is the LAPD." said the gruff voice. "I understand a black man has stabbed a white woman."

I was incensed! "Actually" I mustered ALL my indignation, "a white woman has stabbed a black man!"

"No ma'am, that's not how it happens. The report I have here says a black man stabbed a white woman. Has the man been subdued yet?"

"Are you shitting me?! I'm telling you... wow. Ok, what the hell is YOUR name?!" I spat. 

The gruff voice chuckled, "It's [Dave] Attell. Stanhope still alive?"

"You hilarious asshole."

"Heh, just get him to call me back later."

The wailing sirens pulled up out front, blue and red lights splashing all over the front of the house. The actual not-as-racist-as-Dave-Attell LAPD had arrived, guns a blazin'! "Where's the knife?"  Lights. Sirens. Sensory overload. Paramedics arrived. The cops put up actual police tape across the front of both little houses (it stayed, pride of place, in Doug's front yard untll he moved. It might even have been listed for sale in one of the eBay yard sales?!) The cops took Patti away, the ambos took, Van. 

I'd been living in LA for a whole 3 days and I was standing in my friend's front yard next to a very large sign that read, "Make Me Hard", giving my first deposition to a very nice boy in very dark blue. 

After the dust settled, the three of us went back inside. Doug walked into the kitchen to get everyone another beer. He looked at the knife block, "Oh shit, she used one of my good steak knives!" 

Doug's probably forgotten this incident by now. For him, it's just one of the thousands of nights he's had that ended with a good story. That sums up my friend. I love him and I'm looking forward to a nice normal night with him, Bingo and Hennigan when they land. It'll be a first. 


Melb tix available here

Doug's twitter