Tag: Stewart Lee

Stewart Lee shows his playful side at Nottingham Playhouse

stewKnown for offering the antithesis of big venue comedy gigs, Stewart Lee began his latest show, Much a Stew About Nothing, by telling us unceremoniously that he is trying out new material for an upcoming TV show.

When he was last in Nottingham for Carpet Remnant World he performed in front of a row of grubby, sad-looking carpets and the show culminated in a nihilistic super rant about modern alienation. But when he appeared  at Nottingham Playhouse on Sunday evening, Lee seemed altogether more playful, occasionally cracking a gleeful smile. He even roped three members of the audience to cart a load of boxes to Anish Kapoor’s famous Skymirror sculpture so that he could use it as a stall to flog his DVDs.

For fans of his biting political satire there was plenty here with Lee launching a searing attack on Paul Nutall ‘of the UKIPs’ for his views on immigration. That said, politics does not dominate the show and references to TV programmes like The Really Wild Show proved to be a crowd pleaser. A large part of Lee’s routines these days centres on his experiences of family life and his description of himself as a ‘vasectemised, alcoholic, 45-year-old father of two’ was brilliant.

There is no doubt that Lee is a consummate performer and he is a skillful improviser who easily fended off the heckler who decided to start belting out a song in the middle of the routine. Perhaps this show did not reach the dizzy heights of Carpet Remnant World but Lee seemed comfortable with the audience and there was a warm humour that sat surprisingly well alongside his satire.

An extra date for this show has been planned for 23rd January. For details visit the Playhouse website.

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Existential angst in Stewart Lee’s Carpet Remnant World

Stewart Lee sums up his latest show Carpet Remnant World perfectly when he describes it as ‘an aggressive lecture’. Seemingly uncomfortable with his own fame, he is addressing the people who may have brought friends along with them that evening, believing this will be an entertaining night of comedy.

As with his previous routines, Lee – ever the post-modernist – analyses his audience and deconstructs why some people are laughing and others aren’t. He also tells stories and then admits that they are not true and tells the same joke in a different language, playfully making us look at the form of stand-up.

The first half of the show, which he performed at Nottingham Playhouse last Thursday, referred to news events of the previous year such as Bin Laden’s death and Norwegian mass murderer Andreas Breivik. At times this was a little patchy and the narrative was not always as tight as it could have been – but that’s not to say there weren’t some glorious moments. I particularly liked Lee’s parody of Ricky Gervais performing at one of his stadium gigs, arrogantly running onto the stage, surveying his vast audience and revelling in the applause.

It was after the interval that Lee really came into his own. Explaining that he had no material because he now spends his days driving on the motorway and looking after his son, he expertly weaved a narrative around visiting soulless retail parks, Twitter, Scooby Doo and Thatcher. The routine was politically astute, surreal and drew on a kind of existential angst that seemed to match the mood of Britain today. Lee’s stage persona is at times self-deprecating as he reads about himself on Twitter (‘OMG saw Stewart Lee eating a burger. He looked fat and depressed and fat.’) and at other times, deranged in a way that hinted at his earlier work such as If You Prefer a Milder Comedian.

One of the highlights for me was one that was completely unexpected. Lee is describing the current trend for ‘sad comedy’ in which comedians use terrible events in their life as stand-up material. In the middle of this faux tale of woe about being adopted and having extremist Christians hound him, small pieces of pink paper – presumably from last month’s pantomime – drop from the ceiling, setting Lee off on a searing rant and proving just how adept he is at improvisation.

For details on Stewart Lee’s Carpet Remnant World visit his website. 

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