Doug Stanhope is not a happy man. Those familiar with his work will recognise the angry bewilderment with which he cuts through the bullshit, stupidity and (perceived) hypocrisy in the modern world, but it seems that age – he’s now 44 – has added bitterness and resignation to the mix. Mixing the shocking with the absurd, he’s made a career out of propagating a warped common sense, a world view that thrives on black and white and reduces complex issues to one, key point to be questioned. Gay marriage doesn’t deserve support because, well, marriage itself is stupid – “If marriage didn’t exist, would you invent it?” – while the very concept of religion and beliefs was nullified with the simple “If you read the Bible on the back of a cereal packet, would you base your life on it?”

Now there’s only one issue he wants to talk about – his impotence as a comedian. And unsurprisingly, he’s livid. He still delivers hilariously seedy tales from the dark underbelly and badlands of the USA, but he’s left the big issues behind – and it’s our loss. Religion, politics, government, and abortion are all studiously ignored – getting worked up about them was ruining his life – with his ire focusing instead on the human misery found behind all conflict and debate. Addiction and rehab, families in economic blackspots, and even fellow artists all get it with both barrels, and his genius is perfectly encapsulated in an inspired rant in character as an urban hooker using the economics of Milton Friedman to explain why she must resort to anal.

Tearing down the façade of geniality which society uses like a comfort blanket has clearly taken its toll, and as he sadly admits, if his friends don’t even listen, what chance does he have with 200 drunk strangers? But his comedy is not a strand of idealism, it’s a challenge; to see through the deceit and lies of the powerful (“It’s not that these buffoons exist that’s the problem, it’s that people take them seriously.”), to take responsibility for our actions (“You got 4 kids? In Flint, Michigan? You’re not a victim, you’re a gambling addict!”), and to live your life however you see fit (“You don’t like your surroundings? Just move! It’s not 1857 anymore.”) It’s fitting that with the battle lines drawn between the haves and have-nots and a looming Presidential election that seems like a fight for the very soul of America, he’s back to lay bare a few more harsh truths. There’s a Stanhope in all of us, and if we’d just stop and listen for a second, the world would be a better place.