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Was the invective all part of Lee’s uncommon cleverness – a wind-up strategy that allows him to deconstruct his material as he goes along, thereby embellishing it further?Plainly his refusal to suffer perceived fools gladly is of a piece with his high-risk determination not to be crudely “pleasing” but even so the joke wears thin.Despite explaining early on that he had no interest in warming us up, and just wanted to push through the 30-minute sets, the first half-hour or so was beset by his own interruptions, as he took issue with our wrong-headed laughs, our lack of responsiveness, our failure to “make connections” and our want of imagination in coming up with suggestions when asked to do so.Having started off with a theatre full of reasonably cheerful, appreciative punters – most of whom looked intelligent enough to me (what was he expecting, the sort of people who attend a TED conference? There were early laughs at the expense of that Russell Brand and Jeremy Paxman Newsnight interview (hardly Frost/Nixon...Lee’s latest live outing, running at Leicester Square Theatre and essentially trialling material ahead of recordings for the new series of his BBC show (Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle) is called Much A-Stew About Nothing.On Friday night, he was getting much Stewed up about his lacklustre audience, swiftly discerning that “a lot of you are not my crowd”.
It’s as though the audience are there for his delectation, not the other way round.
“more like a monkey throwing his own excrement against a foghorn”) but the contempt he expressed for Brand seemed as nothing to the disdain he showed towards those who’d paid to see him.
“I am not interested in what you think,” he advised, suddenly.
In comedy, sometimes a room will turn on a comedian; Lee reverses that dynamic.
Come the interval, I decided to take him at his word. Besides which, Lee had made it abundantly clear by this point that he didn’t even want a Telegraph review.