Political Asylum — August 29, 2012, 10:25 am

Alternate Roll Call

An exchange from last night in Tampa, where, after an eternity of keeping Mitt Romney at arm’s length, the G.O.P finally nominated him as its standard-bearer against Barack Obama. As always, there was a feather-preening roll call, during which each state introduced itself and cast its votes.

Jack: Kevin, don’t you wish sometimes that when the states introduced themselves, they’d dispense with the Chamber of Commerce pablum?

Florida, “the Lightning Capital of the World,” where more people are injured by God’s wrath than all the other states combined! The state that specifically outlaws sex with porcupines, and whose governor is the World Weekly News’s Bat Boy, casts all its votes for the next President of the United States, Mitt Romney!

Kevin: Nevada, the bankruptcy state, where the mustang is not only a wild horse but a job-creating brothel, setting of more pawnshop reality-shows than any other state in the nation, the proud adopted home of Bugsy Siegel and Virginia Hill, throws all in for Mitt Romney!

Jack: Maine—the producer of 90 percent of America’s toothpicks and the home of Joshua Chamberlain, the last Civil War soldier to die of his wounds (in 1914, at the age of eighty-six), whose residents are still required by law to carry shotguns to church in the event of Indian attacks, and the state that brags it has more French speakers than any other state, lance fièrement toutes ses voix pour Mitt Romney.

Kevin: Mississippi, the birthplace of Elvis, the Confederate holdout that abolished slavery in 1995 (that’s right, 1995, look it up!). Mississippi, the home of more churches per capita than any other state, and the inventor of the soft toilet seat (like we said, look it up), proudly casts all of its votes for Jefferson Davis IV.

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Editor's Note

Many comedians consider stand-up the purest form of comedy; Doug Stanhope considers it the freest. “Once you do stand-up, it spoils you for everything else,” he says. “You’re the director, performer, and producer.” Unlike most of his peers, however, Stanhope has designed his career around exploring that freedom, which means choosing a life on the road. Perhaps this is why, although he is extremely ambitious, prolific, and one of the best stand-ups performing, so many Americans haven’t heard of him. Many comedians approach the road as a means to an end: a way to develop their skills, start booking bigger venues, and, if they’re lucky, get themselves airlifted to Hollywood. But life isn’t happening on a sit-com set or a sketch show — at least not the life that has interested Stanhope. He isn’t waiting to be invited to the party; indeed, he’s been hosting his own party for years.

Because of the present comedy boom, civilians are starting to hear about Doug Stanhope from other comedians like Ricky Gervais, Sarah Silverman, and Louis CK. But Stanhope has been building a devoted fan base for the past two decades, largely by word of mouth. On tour, he prefers the unencumbered arrival and the quick exit: cheap motels where you can pull the van up to the door of the room and park. He’s especially pleased if there’s an on-site bar, which increases the odds of hearing a good story from the sort of person who tends to drink away the afternoon in the depressed cities where he performs. Stanhope’s America isn’t the one still yammering on about its potential or struggling with losing hope. For the most part, hope is gone. On Word of Mouth, his 2002 album, he says, “America may be the best country, but that’s like being the prettiest Denny’s waitress. Just because you’re the best doesn’t make you good.”

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“Bolivia’s gene banks contain far more quinoa varieties than any other country’s, yet the Bolivians are dead set against sharing them.”
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“He explained how sober Doug structured the bits and worked out the material’s logic; drunk Doug found the funny.”
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