Stewart Lee: A Room with a Stew
Tuesday 18th August 2015
The Assembly Rooms (music hall) 14:00
Like Lee’s self-confession, I too felt like an unwelcome guest of a new social class. I harked back to last year and the rightly condemned show Lee had attempted and I braced myself for a long afternoon. I’m glad I was wrong. This might have been a work in progress, but as Lee announced “You should feel privileged to be witness to an artist at work”. Lee confessed his want to test out two new routines, with the intention the material be involved in his new TV series later this year, which will be well worth the viewing. Being a test, there were areas of raggedness and uncertainty, but Lee (a 20 year veteran of the Fringe) knows and is a master of tying up loose ends, everything has meaning, so even the most forgettable moments or lost jokes are not left behind. “Remember the 90’s, when I was funny?” Lee asked the crowd. Methodical, progressive, abstract, stimulating imagination, multi-layered anecdotes, all adjectives I think of when recalling Lee’s style from that era and again here today, this was Lee back to his (almost) prime. Lee clearly knew he had neglected these aspects of his approach last year and brought them back with a vengeance this time around, with the added momentum building complaint that evolved in to a full blown rant and a fourth wall break.
This was indeed a room with a Stew, but this was a show all about his time and his understanding of it, with an undercurrent of moral, fatherly suggestion; don’t worry, everything has a reason. From the second Lee started looking at his watch to allocating minutes to routine, to his trips down memory lane, his current state of financial security, to his perceived doomed future….and beyond, all the time berating self in comparison and deflecting this negativity on to the unfortunate chosen area of the crowd. Rounded off with what I perceived the cleverest twist he could have hoped for; the tragic irony that all this time his own perceptions of himself have been misunderstood.
Ps. I wish I made enough money so I to could purchase a chair, I would have brought it with me.
Coroner’s report: His pulse is steady, full signs of life 8/10.
Venue: Lee 2/10, me 5/10.