“We’ll make it a two-day party,” cult comedian Doug Stanhope says on his blog about his Sept. 27 show at the Plaza hotel-casino in Las Vegas. What he means is this: After that Saturday night gig—in which, in typical Stanhope fashion, he’ll smash every piety in sight and trample every boundary of good taste—he plans to spend all day Sunday in the Plaza’s sports book, in downtown Vegas. He’ll watch football, crack possibly offensive jokes, mock fans of the wrong teams and, no doubt, hit the sauce. Anyone gutsy or drunk enough to want to join him is welcome. “All the people I don’t normally have time for,” he said recently, “I’m making time for.”
He doesn’t mean just nearby Las Vegans, either. “Road trip, fly or even take the Greyhound if you have that kind of budget and sense of humor,” the onetime Man Show host and Louie guest star urges on his blog (the Plaza is right next to the bus station, which regularly disgorges every flavor of economically disadvantaged humanity onto Main Street). He might even offer a prize to whoever travels farthest to join the debauched fun. The dress code is extremely casual: “This is old Vegas. You’re supposed to look like a jerk-off.”
Old Vegas, indeed. The Plaza sits at the end of the Fremont Street Experience, a huge video canopy over the long pedestrian mall that used to be the fabled Glitter Gulch. Despite its overload of garish lights, it has a stubbornly downmarket feel, with a lot of lower-end tourists, plus locals busking in superhero suits. In other words, ideal for a connoisseur of human variety such as Stanhope.
He prefers this milieu to what he terms “the corporate dullard feel” of the glitzed-up, high-end Strip. There’s been a well-publicized effort to gentrify parts of downtown into a zone of buzzy restaurants and grog shops. But in Stanhope’s eyes the area retains a bit of the old scuzz he remembers from decades ago, when he got his start in Vegas. “Downtown Vegas is the only Vegas I really enjoy,” he writes. “It’s still cheap and threatening.”
There’s every chance that “cheap and threatening” will describe Stanhope’s Sunday football shtick, too, as the NFL at the moment offers plenty of outré material for a comedian whose thing is pushing the envelope: the various tentacles of the Ray Rice domestic-abuse scandal; the league’s concussion problems. According to an admiring piece in Harper’s earlier this year, his act has been known to include a fairly transgressive bit about football’s latent homoeroticism. So, know what you’re getting into. Don’t bring your tender sensibilities—or your Dallas Cowboys jersey, which will be mercilessly ridiculed—on the Greyhound.