Stewart Lee: A Room With A Stew
- Brian Donaldson
- 16 March 2015
The Comedy Vehicle comedian continues to intrigue, influence and irritate in wonderful measure
A couple of years ago, the Daily Telegraph’s longstanding comedy correspondent reviewed Stewart Lee’s then touring show, Much A-Stew About Nothing. Or rather, he reviewed the first half because, boasting rather too gleefully, he walked out at the interval due to Lee’s perceived bad attitude towards his audience. If they were handing out prizes for The Person Who Should Probably Know Better Yet Totally Missed The Point in 2013, we’d have a very clear winner.
Were he attending A Room With A Stew, chances are he would have bolted after five minutes. Somehow an experienced comedy critic failed to note that his anti-audience running gag is a fairly natural by-product of the detached snooty intellectual persona that creeps in and out of Lee’s stage act. Happily for the crowd, his new show (more try-outs for the next series of his BAFTA-winning Comedy Vehicle) is absolutely packed with laughs as that persona rails and jibes and mocks everything from English nationalism to urine and the ‘polo-necked’ Dapper Laughs to, yes, the inadequacies inherent in his crowd as we all work towards making the night a success.
One of his central points in the show is that the news agenda has never been so impossible to pin down, so that any actual intention he may have had to display ironic Islamophobia on stage had been shot to pieces by the ever-changing events of the last year. Instead, he pillories those who think that observational humour and perceptive analyses of fundamentalism go easily hand-in-hand.
Those who love Stewart Lee’s deconstruction of both his act and the very nature of stand-up will revel in another prime example of this, while his critics (and friends of fans who came along, only to be bored to death) will have left feeling at best perplexed, and at worst, irritated beyond words.
Reviewed at Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Sun 15 Mar. A Room With A Stew is on tour until 8 Jan, 2016