#telosvision: stewart lee’s comedy vehicle

i like Stewart Lee.

he first came to my attention as the sulkier, more aloof and thinner half of the double act he shared with Richard Herring in and around the early nineties.

i never heard their first radio show, Lionel Nimrod’s Inexplicable World, but encountered them doing Fist of Fun on Radio 1 and subsequently reinterpreting it for a seeing-eye audience, after it achieved BBC2 TV show status. i’ve spoken of my love of FoF previously, at length.

however, lot’s have things have since changed. Ceefax, for example. and Stewart Lee is no exception. back then, he was like a long, cynical sliver of black, brummie denim with post-punk hair. today, however, while being no-less cynical, or brummie, his hair is some-less, and he, himself, is generally considerably more.

although he might today look like some sort of cross between ageing, whiny xenophobe Morissey and sad-dog faced BBC character actor Martin Shaw, stuffed into a cheap looking, ill-fitting and incorrectly buttoned jacket, he’s still alive and as funny as he ever was, if not in several ways more so.

despite his face and cynicism, Lee is a serious student of comedy and his obvious love for and considerable knowledge of the art form both fuel his comedy. like a funny Jimmy Carr.

his routines are notable for multiple call backs, repetition and persistence ad absurdum, imaginative flights combined with an absence of the forth wall, political, socio-cultural and socio-economic observation, and a fondness for playing with an audience’s perceived sophistication (with regard to the culture of comedy) or lack thereof (with a particular fondness for parodying the status of ‘that London’).

in addition to making several award and DVD-release winning stand-up shows over the last few years, and writing the most penetratingly insightful reflections on the recent right royal nuptials, Lee has recently returned to your screens for a new series of his comedy vehicle, Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle.

last year’s Armando-Iannucci-produced first series was a breath of fresh air, arriving, as it did, not far off the back of Michael Mcintyre’s Comedy Roadshow.

it wasn’t an unreserved triumph, however, and i’m pleased this time round he’s decided to largely (if not entirely) leave behind the ill-conceived sketches that interspersed the segments of funny talking.

more appealing are the scenes of Stewart in conversation with Armando which have been upgraded from red button extras last series to ‘full vehicle’ cut-aways this. some of the more pointless full-on sketch sequences are still present though, like the one of Stu burning down a house at the end of episode one. to my mind, however, these short but annoying sketches and the aforementioned terrible jacket by no means count as reasons not to watch.

what is more, nostalgic fans have another reason to celebrate in the form of the news that, after so many years of the BBC refusing to do it, Lee and Herring are themselves putting out a Fist of Fun DVD using their own money. it’s due to hit the shop near Christmas, and I for one will be buying it. you should too.

feel free to find Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle on Wednesday nights on BBC2 at 11.20pm, or on iPlayer one hour thereafter.

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  1. Fist of Fun can be purchased from ‘Go Faster Stripe’ along with a lot of other obscure comedy recordings that can be found here:

    http://www.gofasterstripe.com/cgi-bin/website.cgi

    FM

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