Stewart Lee - How I Escaped My Certain Fate (4 stars)

Stewart Lee - How I Escaped My Certain Fate


Like Ezra Pound’s notes on The Waste Land if they’d been more cutting, self-critical and in awe of Johnny Vegas, Stewart Lee here transcribes and annotates the three stand-up shows that brought him back from disillusioned retirement in 2001 to his position as one of the UK’s most revered struggling comedians. From conception through to reception, Lee traces the development of each show, (two of which were recorded at The Stand in Glasgow), acknowledges debts to comics such as Simon Munnery, Greg Fleet and his old partner Richard Herring, while guiding the reader line-by-line through the intricacies of describing to an audience the act of vomiting into the gaping anus of Christ.

Taking comedy seriously but himself rather less so (it’s subtitled ‘The Life and Deaths of a Stand-Up Comedian’), Lee’s footnotes serve as wry toppers to his original routines, their knowing, brutal honesty permitting him to settle a few scores and brazenly insult friend and foe alike. Exceptionally funny and insightful.

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