Friday 27th April 2012, 10:00AM BST.
So here goes.
Lee is not a stand-up in the traditional sense and on Thursday night he set about proving that – by using all the techniques you would expect a stand-up to employ.
There was topical comedy – although not in the form you’d recognise (Andres Breivik’s a fan of Jeremy Clarkson. Osama Bin Laden didn’t have anything against chickens) and some observational humour and even talking about things his kids have said.
Lee now has a level of fame thanks to TV appearances, but not for him the route of Mock The Week and Live At The Apollo (there is a dig about this). In fact his fame leads to his own mock frustration because there are people at his gigs that he doesn’t want there – the ‘People’s Friends’ who are stitting in the upper balcony (where I happen to be sat) and aren’t working hard enough to make his jokes funny.
“What are you doing here?” he asks. “This isn’t for you.”
The stand-up techniques are used to show that is exactly what he doesn’t do. In fact he spends a large section of the first act going back through what has gone before to explain why it was funny and that it will be referred to again in the second half. This doesn’t sound funny but it is. It’s hilarious.
Lee deconstructs his own show even while he is doing it. No mean feat.
The second half descends into a critique of social networking, with Lee reading what may or may not have been genuine tweets about him resulting in an on-stage meltdown from which my ribs still ache.
Then he is back to mocking others ‘observational’ comedy. A line about going into World of Leather and imagining a world made of leather takes a turn you wouldn’t see coming in a million years – unless you knew Stewart Lee.
Lee spends the entire gig insisting it has been thrown together because all he does it drive up and down the motorway to gigs and look after children. He repeatedly tells the audience he is using other comedians techniques because “I have nothing”.
But every single second of the show is worked out to prefection. Every reference is tied up in a neat little bow at the end. It is stand-up comedy without jokes, but it is also art.
So yes, Lee’s gig is pretty impossible to review. I’ve re-read this a few times and it doesn’t do it justice. But maybe that’s a good thing. Go and see for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.
And if you are, you can relax safe in the knowledge that Stewart Lee didn’t want you there, anyway.
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