Stanhope was born on March 25, 1967 in Worcester, Massachusetts to a middle class family. His father Russ was head of science at Stanhope's school, and died in 2000. His mother Bonnie (née Kirk) was a waitress. A recovering alcoholic, she divorced her husband when Stanhope was ten years old, quit drinking and moved to Florida. In 1998, he convinced her to live near him in West Hollywood. In her later life she suffered from emphysema. In 2008, at her request, she wished for Stanhope to be involved in an assisted suicide with a mixture of cocktails and prescription morphine. Stanhope waited until the statute of limitations had expired for the ensuing credit card fraud before telling the story in his stand-up act and his second book. Stanhope has an elder brother, Jeff.