March 16

The Other Type of Comic

Last weekend I went to see Stewart Lee in Northampton with a couple of mates – and have to say I was decidedly unimpressed. He’s the third or fourth comic that I’ve seen in the last few years that has not lived up to expectations – others being Jason Byrne, Dylan Moran and Ed Byrne.

I’m not quite sure why this is. Stewart Lee made a fair point about over-sanitised comedy being responsible for influencing how we laugh – and to an extent I agree with him. He had a go at Michael McIntyre, Live at the Apollo and Mock the Week specifically. I can see his point – but as someone who is unashamedly anti-establishment, there is a distinct risk of it sounding like sour grapes.

I have seen him several times before and have always liked him, so perhaps it was an off day. Or, even more likely, perhaps it was just me.

However I think the trick of playing parts of the audience off against each other and continually barracking the audience, as though they are from a strange, abnormal sect is, whilst superficially clever, obvious and overdone. In fact, Jason Byrne and Dylan Moran both did the exact same thing.

Stewart Lee’s patter about him preferring gigs when he was less popular and when people ‘didn’t bring their mates’ is apparently intended to be bulletproof – as anyone that criticises him simply can’t be correct for the self evident reasons that he states. The one problem is that, unfortunately, it just wasn’t funny. He insisted that if you didn’t like him you probably just didn’t get it, as though his humour was exclusively for a select group of initiates. I think that’s a fairly suspect line of logic personally.

So, it all seemed a bit dated to me, to be honest, which is perhaps the problem. Either I’m getting jaded or some well regarded comics are not developing with – or ahead of – their audience.

So, I have to say, whilst it’s always good to spend a Saturday night at a live event and I’d do so over watching something at home, it just didn’t do it for me.

NB – In the spirit of fair mindedness, two of my colleagues were at the same event and both loved it. As I say, there’s a distinct possibility that I’m the odd one out here…