Friday, 15 February 2008

The 41st Best Stand-up Ever

I went along to the Y Theatre in Leicester last night with some friends, to see Stewart Lee, appearing as part of the 15th Leicester Comedy Festival. He was performing the show (The 41st Best Stand-up Ever) that he took to last year's Edinburgh Festival, and he was as good as ever.

Quite why he's been absent from our TV screens (bar the very occasional, very brief, appearance) for so long remains a mystery, because he puts most British stand-ups in the shade. As I've said before, it's not so much the material, however thought-provoking and intelligent it is. It's all in the delivery. I suppose it all comes under the heading of 'comedy timing', but Lee uses silence and repetition to wonderful effect.

Funnily enough, his old comedy partner Richard Herring is at the Y in a month's time, so I'll be going along to that too, to see what he's been up to in the years since Fist Of Fun and TMWRNJ.


Ben Wilkinson said...

I've seen Lee live twice before: once at the Albert Hall and once when I was reviewing Latitude Festival last year, and I completely agree, Matt: he deserves more TV appearances if only to bolster his minimal (though undoubtedly dedicated) fanbase.

His comedy is really something else: though he's been known to wryly and ironically mock stand-up's artistic cultural standing, he recognises - unlike many of his contemporaries - the potential for comedy to be a truly groundbreaking means of questioning social, political and cultural mores and values. Which is more than can be said for the likes of Russell Brand and Jimmy Carr, who are seemingly never off the box.

Though if you want a real treat beyond the safe, corporate, though nonetheless impressive DVD offering of Lee, Stand-Up Comedian, it might be worth investing in 90s Comedian, a lesser known, small label DVD that is worth buying and watching for audience reaction alone.

It's available here:

If you do buy it, or have seen it already, I'd be interested to known what you think. It came out shortly after the somewhat terrifying backlash to his direction of Jerry Springer - The Opera.

Matt Merritt said...

I haven't seen that, Ben, but after the other night I was thinking I should look for some DVDs, so I'll hunt it down.
It was slightly depressing that Lee had sold maybe 200 tickets at the Y (he made the near-but-not-quite-sellout a big part of the act) while Jimmy Carr had sold out the massive De Montfort Hall just down the road.