Review: Stewart Lee - an intelligent and expertly crafted act

Stewart Lee. Royal & Derngate
Stewart Lee. Royal & Derngate

Review: Stewart Lee, Brighton Comedy Festival, The Dome, Friday September 20

I remember Stewart Lee from his days on TV comedy sketch show Fist of Fun, with Richard Herring, which aired back in the ’90s.

Even back then as a teenager I liked the sardonic and intelligent nature of his comedy, while Fist of Fun had a strong following among my friends, so I was looking forward to seeing what he was like now, around 15 years later.

He’s been called the comedian’s comedian and it’s plain to see why.

With his use of deconstruction employed to explain how his jokes work on different levels, it’s a cerebral and fun experience to see such an intelligent and expertly crafted act.

His use of repetition is another one of the techniques he is famous for, which he deployed to brilliant effect throughout.

There’s a story about a cabbie giving him a ride home in London, who tells him: “These days you say you’re English and they lock you up.”

Lee repeats this phrase back at the cabbie endlessly until the cabbie admits that, no this isn’t the case, with Lee quipping: “I don’t want him to think I’m sneering at the guy, but I am.”

Repetition is used in an even better skit casting scorn on UKIP calling for the brightest and best Bulgarians to stay in their country to help it grow.

He then takes the audience back through waves of immigration, including the Caribbean, Pakistan, the Huguenots, the Anglo Saxons and the Beaker Culture, all the way back to the Big Bang, to illustrate his disdain for their arguments in a rant laced with repetition, which becomes angrier and angrier.

There’s an examination of life after ten years of marriage and celebrity Tories.

And look out for a piece about a Hackney jazz club closing to be replaced with Nandos, which plays with the liberal’s fear of appearing racist.

Watch out for side swipes he takes at fellow comedians too.

His material was political, clever and dark, rippling with sarcasm and swathed in a laid back style of delivery.

I swear if comedy legend and firebrand Bill Hicks were alive today he would go and watch Stewart Lee. And I think he would like him a lot.