As far as stand-up comedians go, Stewart Lee is by far the closest to performance art. His on-stage presence becomes something of a whole different calibre to that of the everyday stand-up comic. He has persuasions and cultural insights that you can’t quite get from the likes of Frankie Boyle or Jimmy Carr. Fine comedians in their own right, but their aim is to offend, and while that style of comedy can be a lot of fun, Lee’s eye-opening set here brings new light onto how comedy can morph into more than just a two-hour stage show.
He rattles off the usual crowd tickling material, splitting the audience in a way that only he can. This may seem like material worth retiring, but Lee manages to keep it fresh by spending a lot of time working his audience with the occasional side-track into uncharted territory. He seems more off the cuff than anything else, toying with the idea that his brash unpreparedness and sloppy appearance are merely part of the act he looks to create. Whether or not this is true is entirely up to Lee, who doesn’t seem willing to give a proper answer.
With a routine this strong, it’s by far one of his best specials to date. Fatherhood and the rise of sad comedy are the two primary subjects for this special, and it’s the change in tone from his previous special, If You Prefer a Milder Comedian, Please Ask for One. Instead of nail-biting commentary on culture, Lee talks of his depressing adventures in the world of Scooby-Doo. He seems shaken, trying to capture what made him famous in the first place, but failing to do so and instead accidentally discovering a whole new line of incredibly funny material.
It’s more or less what you’d expect and more from one of the most consistently funny comedians working today. His attitudes and experiences within the world are lamented in turmoil and horrendous re-runs of Scooby Doo and the Pirate Zombie Island. In turn we see a live mental breakdown, eventually culminating in Lee slagging off people that have done him wrong in the past as he swigs from a bottle of wine. It’s an incredible spectacle to watch unfold, and Lee guides us across a precarious path to near perfection.