Stanhope has one of the great voices of comedy. It's so smoky and drinky and old. I don't really know why they compare him to Hicks. There is a superficial similarity, which I get, (otherwise the comparison would be so out of the blue as to be absurdly arbitrary, which it doesn't seem to be). There's that nothing-sacred no-holds-barredness. But Hicks, fab though he was, had points to make and he made them.
Stanhope has points to make too, but he doesn't deliver them the way Hicks did. You might even say he fails to deliver. He just talks. Like you're both relaxing on a sofa with a drink. It doesn't seem like a performance, just a conversation. With lulls in it. And the almost believable struggles for the next word, as if he's caught in his own headlights.
But there's more than one of you, and there is no sofa, and he must stand and talk instead of sit (which he got to do on Charlie Brooker's show). Just occasionally he shuffles across the stage, like an old man in a dressing gown, as if to get as far away as possible from the dreadfully funny place, emphasis on the dreadful, he's just been.
You know he's not normal because - quite apart from talking about the sort of stuff you wouldn't normally talk about even in private - he's so good at describing what humans do. Yes there's toilet humour. He does describe the horror of what he's just done in the aircraft toilet. He reveals the concerted action of the people in the row ahead of the toilet he's just left, all of them turning on the overhead airstreams at the same time. And he tells of the stewardess moving up the isle and stopping at the toilet door and looking at it as if it were a person. That, as they say, is funny shit.
The audience pretty much loved him, which I think he may have found a bit off-putting, But who am I to infer the mental states of others? It's not like his discourse is veering towards the safer territory of fluffy bunnidom, so no worries there. There was a bit of an inner struggle (another inference of a mental state) about how to finish, and he decided to go for the thirteen year old story of Bobby Barnett. Now that could have been disappointing - I guess about a third of the audience would be fanny enough to know it - but there's no hint of protest. It's a great (though earthbound) story, and - although this bit must therefore be more of a piece of performance art - that mountain has not yet crumbled into the sea.