Stewart Lee’s style of comedy – using repetition, sarcasm, irony and a drawn out self analysis – has been much emulated by the latest set of new comic acts trying to break through on the circuit, much to his chagrin. He has famously mocked Michael McIntyre and his ilk, and spoken out about the ‘stealing’ of his style more recently forcing him to change it (something he does each year anyway) to something more difficult to aspire to. He mocks his own success at the start of the show, complaining how winning an award this year and his success on the TV has attracted a new Johnny-come-lately audience he just can’t be doing with. And the friendly beligerance peeks through. Stewart Lee has returned snappier, more pacy, cramming in more laughs per minute, subverting the form more than ever and bringing the deconstruction of comedy to the masses, alternately scolding and praising them for their reactions like a manipulated partner or dog.
It was positively thrilling to see him have so much fun baiting the forms of mainstrream comedy. Using the full length and space of the stage, running, shouting, dropping into a bi-lingual segment – all the time pairing the simple and the complex, knitting the high brow and the low brow, delivering what has been demanded and then deconstructing it to point out why his original call not to take that path would have been better. All of it hilarious.
Lee truly seemed to have heaps of fun with this show, almost corpsing at times. Declaring a void of structure, then exposing that structure, then deconstructing that structure with added asides to the wings, all skipping along at a definite speed and perfectly timed. This pretender misanthrope has concentrated his formula, stretched it and then encoded it with a magic formula to bamboozle the pretenders and deliver his best show in years.
Concert Hall, Brighton Dome, 2 May 2012