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Stewart Lee - Stand-Up Comedian
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"The cleverest, funniest, most cliché-free comedian on the circuit" Ricky Gervais After four years working on Richard Thomas' Jerry Springer - The Opera, Stewart Lee returns to stand-up in search of clarity, self-respect and immediate sensual and intellectual gratification. Captured here for Stewart's first ever live DVD release, Stand Up Comedian documents the strongest set of his career, culminating in a sell-out Spring 2005 tour. See "one of the top three or four living stand-ups" (Time Out) sweat his way through over an hour of smart and subtle bone-dry comedy. Stand-Up Comedian was recorded live in the notoriously comedy-hostile city of Glasgow, where a terrified Des O'Connor once sold advertising space on the soles of his shoes.
From the Back Cover
"Once again, Lee is out there pushing the form like nobody else...scintillatingly smart comedy" Times "One of the most intelligent and courageous comedians currently at work" Observer
"The cleverest, funniest, most cliché-free comedian on the circuit" Ricky Gervais "It is Lee's subtlety and his intelligence that make his act exceptional...a perfect hour" Guardian XXXXX
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As far as comedy genius goes, I am a fan of Ricky Gervais, who seems to be able to explore all sorts of situations and characters with immensely intellectual scope. I am a fan of Russell Brand, one of the largest vocabularies on Earth and razor-sharp insights as a political and social commentator. I am a fan of Jim Jefferies, who can go from lager-lout to extreme subtlety in moments. People like Michael McIntyre and Lee Evans hardly even get a smile out of me, if you want immaturity don't bother with Stewart, you'll be lost.
There is so much depth, twisting and turning, surreality as I said, and at times sheer bravery. He pretends to disrespect seasoned comics, Eddie Izzard gets a mention here but he is equally at home having a go at James Corden and Russell Brand in fact. Once you "get" the way he talks and the angles he uses, it's clear he respects them and is being cheeky, but again - this is a guy that you have to "get". There is no point looking at the face value narratives, because along with and underneath it is the structure and pure wit which is the very essence of his approach.
He is also another of those comedians that even when he is at his most incisive and hilarious, stays deadpan as if he is deadly serious, yet is larking around and testing whether you do indeed "get" what he is on about. I could pick out any one of the sections, the way he continually refers to the 9/11 attacks as taking place on the 9th November (9th of the 11th) and the following day, the 9th of December (9/12). He doesn't just use a one-liner, throughout the whole of that segment he doesn't mention the 11th of September once, just uses the 9th of November.
Like most modern worthwhile comedians he has no respect for the establishment, but again he leads you astray if you're not concentrating and picking up what he is thinking on any given topic.
The only spoiler I will mention I will try not to spoil by revealing the actual story, but you are probably familiar with the technique of taking what could easily be a quick segment, but dragging it out way longer, and somehow keeping the humour all the way through. The part of this I mean is where he recounts an interview he did (or has made up that he did) with the Taiwanese film director Ang Lee. What could be one line becomes a good ten minutes or more, and it's pure childishness to the point where you can hardly hear a word of it because you're in disbelief. The deadpan delivery and the sheer bravery of the length of it, is absolute magic.
Every other section is fantastic, but I really mustn't go into any detail at the risk of ruining what is basically perfect.
If you're clever, if you are able to hang onto the surreal nature of the humour - and that is easy to do really - you'll be howling, and at the same time wondering how on Earth he thinks the stuff up. There's nothing else like it.
But Stewart Lee is the sort of comedian (like Mark Thomas) who will make you laugh, and then think, and then laugh some more. And once you've put the DVD back in the box, it still stays with you. You realise that you've changed the way you think, you've seen something in a different way, and for that reason - the stand-up routine you've just been watching has actually changed you.
Lee uses some of his older material here and polishes it so to feel edgier than it did when first performed. Filmed in a small comedy club, the cosy feel extends into your living room and you can practically smell the pork scratchings. The friendly environment no doubt helps when your comedy repertoire seems (on the face-of-it) to be greatly offensive, but Lee manages to turn it round, he is a man of integrity and uses challenging subject matter to test the less liberal views of others. In short, he exposes the ugly side of humanity, such as racism, so we can recognise it for what it is - silly. That may sound blasé, but it's true.
Typical of the performances on TV I've seen; Lee analyses his own material on stage, dissecting his quips to understand why they are funny. His analysis ends up being as funny as the joke itself, and inevitably results in a further understanding of the human condition.
This is a fantastic comedy routine, and although the additional features are pretty sparse - to have anything extra is a bonus. It wasn't until I read the DVD details that I realised that this is the first recorded video performance you can get of Stewart Lee. Now that's a shame, because this intelligent, political, and often 'offensive' comedy challenges beliefs and adds fire to the comedy world.
See him at the height of his powers. Brilliant.
perfect. To me it is always worth paying that little bit extra for a previously unused item.
Enjoy. Or not, of course - that's up to you. You might need to raise your game, though.