Stewart Lee - 41st Best Stand-Up Ever!

Scathing, unabashed and profoundly self-deprecating, Lee is a performer whose material so often transcends the mark that his lack of astronomical fame is unbelievable

★★★★
archive review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 06 Aug 2007

Throughout this hour-long set, Mr. Lee barely breaks a sweat. Not because he’s coasting or re-treading well-worn turf, but because his manner is all about cool delivery: the wry one liner, the well placed...pause. Lee is a master of the form, and while the biggest laugh of the night might come from his use of a four letter word to describe Richard Littlejohn, this is nonetheless comedy at its most intelligent.

Lee is not afraid of dealing with sensitive issues like race and religion. They are conjured and discussed with such deft precision that the audience are never in doubt of his impeccable liberal credentials ('I wouldn't want anyone thinking I'm racist' he says, 'that's Al Murray's job'). He has the knack to stretch a joke to breaking point; his opening tirade (too strong a term, perhaps, for a performer so painfully laconic) against 80's comedian Tom O'Connor is a masterclass in audience bating.

Repetition for repetition's sake would be agony – this is repetition elevated to art form. Scathing, unabashed and profoundly self-deprecating, Lee is a performer whose material so often transcends the mark that his lack of astronomical fame is unbelievable. His deadpan demeanour may be as much a pose as the tired lad-isms of Russell Brand et al., but his style is so far beyond his rivals that it almost seems a quibble.

 

A festival highlight in the truest sense.