Writer/Performer: Stewart Lee
Reviewer: James Higgins
Reviewer: James Higgins
"Can anyone one tell me the name of their favourite high street coffee shop ?" asked Stewart Lee. "Starbucks" Came the reply from Candice in the front row. "Why is it your favourite ?".... Silence, Candice had fluffed her lines and Mr Lee looked exasperated. He looked even less impressed when after trying something else on the other side of the row that broke down as well. Eventually we got back on track and he started to slowly flow once more in his usual drawn out, over analyzing style with cutting re post and high intellect.
Earlier this year he returned to our TV screens for the first time in a decade with his BBC Show Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle and this date at Richmond was part of his nationwide tour culminating in a month's slot at The Leicester Square Theatre in December.
He has much to say about our dumbed down culture and the ability of today's more mainstream comedians to go for the easy observational gags (a nod to Michael Macintyre) and crude boring jokes (a nod to Boyle), especially on the panel shows that clearly infuriate him. He mentions fellow comic Frankie Boye's recent comments, that once comedians are past 40 they lose their anger and subsequently their edge, referring to him as '38 year old Frankie Boyle'. He admits he is less angry these days but as ever this observation comes with steely irony. It is at this point that Lee seems to become stirred by this anecdote and the rage starts to return fully. Jeremy Clarkson, his faux crusade against 'political correctness gone mad' and his Topgear side kick Richard 'the hamster' Hammond are given both barrels.
He rants at the emigrants who are after "a better quality of life" that only seems to amount to their ability to source larger prawns in former British colonies. He shares with us his disappointment with the media, culture and with the Government. We get urban vs country dwelling and discover how not even Otters will persuade him to abandon Hackney. The anger returns once more at full throttle and he leaps from the stage abandoning the mic, storming up the stairs to the dress circle and shouting madly at the audience. "Stop bit torrenting my DVD's" he yells "that is my living", we wouldn't dream of it Stewart. He meets a startled lady on the way back down and implores us to wait for a wee. He finishes on a touching song number, with a link to family and the onslaught of corporate advertising nonsense.
The Daily Mail maybe preparing their own cute version of 'Minority Report' style justice but before they do someone should tell them Mr Lee isn't really going to murder 'the Hamster', it was as Jeremy would say, 'just a joke'.
Stewart Lee is not everyone's cup of tea and doesn't create as many big laugh out loud moments as he could, but he is very clever and full of cutting satire. As he said whilst standing in a row of seats with no mic and out of breath, "am I not entertaining ?" To that I would say he certainly is, after all if we had preferred a milder comedian then we know what we should have done !
On Nationwide tour until 29th November 2009, In London 7th December 2009-17th January 2010
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