Stewart Lee Snowflake/Tornado at Brighton Dome - Review

‘I can do it and I’m very good at it’ – Stewart Lee’s prosaic performance assessment doesn’t even begin to cover it...

Despite physically creaking a little at the edges Lee is writing the best material of his life with levels of comic technique which should shame a generation of one-note TV-softened comedians.

His latest show Snowflake/Tornado, which packed out four nights at Brighton Dome last week (February 16-20), was littered with barbs and savage lines against comics who have carved out lucrative careers with comparative creative paucity.

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The evening was divided into two huge chunks of material, the first vaguely connected to a misleading shark-based Netflix review (Tornado), the second a sprawling look at the growing polarisation of the country (Snowflake).

For years he’s been the smartest comic around, deconstructing and poking around the all-too often formulaic processes of modern comedy.

It was a disappointment to many when the BBC axed his BAFTA-winning TV show in 2016 (due to budget cuts), but the flipside is that his stand-up shows seem invigorated without the crossover of writing material which could be used for six episodes of TV.

Of course there were plenty of familiar devices from the self-styled ‘Master of Multiple Callback Endings’ – including the chiding of the crowd: ‘Normally a bigger laugh there – you’ve obviously not understood the basic conceit’, and the extended, often uncomfortable, repetition of a gag.

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But everything seemed harder, faster and more packed with ideas and there was much which was sharp, physical, and asthma attack-inducingly funny.

One of the most welcome aspects of the show was that Lee is still fighting the good fight for fairness and refreshed a familiar old routine about political correctness.

After reminding us that a whole generation had mistaken political correctness for health and safety legislation, he outlined some absurd and grotesque flights of hate-filled fantasy.

Unfortunately those flights of hate-filled fantasy weren’t as vile as those expressed on Question Time the previous evening, and he accepted that ‘reality has outstripped comedy’.

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He ended with an unambiguous broadside at that depressing reality and also a positive message for the ‘virtue-signalling metropolitan liberal elite of Brighton’ who lapped it up, and will, understandably, return in droves for his next visit.

By Steve Holloway