The informative liner notes for Lee's new DVD (which, as in his books, points to a much more measured person than who he regularly refers to as 'the comedian Stewart Lee') explain that that there are both narrative layers that he intended, and ones that piled on later through his 200-odd live performances of Carpet Remnant World. These notes also underline the important themes in the show, and are good to read before watching. It's difficult to write about how disparate Carpet Remnant World is, when this disparity is clearly held up as being part of the point. The bitter 'comedian Stewart Lee' shtick; Lee's now highly-developed ability to both develop and run out a complex series of callbacks, and then subsequently ruin them (deliberately!) with his own arrogance by lecturing the audience on them for not understanding them; the always-entertaining 'meltdown' towards the end (here, Lee pulls off easily the most convincing tantrum I've seen him throw, aided by an appropriate, er, 'prop') - these provide dependable points of the performance that old fans will enjoy, and new fans will... hopefully enjoy. Lee doesn't provide lazy viewing.
But without a doubt, this is the most thoughtful of his performances. It's clearly even more given than 90's Comedian to multiple viewing, and the layers as mentioned in the liner notes are definitely there. I remained interested the entire time, but I didn't laugh so much. Then again, I laugh more at Lee's shows the more I've seen them - this is likely because Lee writes comedy underpinned by ideas, not the gags themselves, and so his work is very rare in that it can easily be watched more than once. If the idea of watching stand up more than once doesn't appear to make much sense, you've not seen a Lee show yet!
For those newcomers, I'd recommend Lee's earlier work first, perhaps starting from 90's Comedian and moving forward, because there is also a progression here in the 'comedian Stewart Lee' character as the man himself has become increasingly well-known (a progression that brings something new to the table for older fans). I very strongly recommend this, in fact, because if you didn't, you'd be missing out on some of the richest, most compelling stand up comedy you'll ever see. He's definitely my favourite!
At 2 hours in length, it's the longest dose of Lee I've seen, but I'm just about to press the play button for a second viewing as I write this. Definitely recommended!
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