Thursday, 19 August 2010


"Americans demonizing the man from BP is akin to a sex tourist punching a prostitute in the face because they're so disgusted by their own desire. Americans love oil, they've got the highest oil consumption per head of any country in the world. All the man from BP has done is float it closer to them."

I'm paraphrasing, but this is roughly how Stewart Lee began his one-off 'Silver Stewbilee' show at the Festival Theatre last night.

Well actually, Kevin Eldon opened in the guise of unpublished poet Paul Hamilton, a character he played in Lee and Herring's Fist of Fun. The only poem I can remember in its entirety for you is the following:

I am a dalek. LITERALLY.

But there were funnier ones than that. And quite excitingly you can download his stuff from the FOF radio show here. Or of course go to his first ever solo fringe show, which I'm hoping to do soon.

Other guests included Paul Putner doing his Earl Stevens bit, Simon Munnery doing his Urban Warrior bit, Bridget Christie doing some of her ant bit (one of the strongest parts of the show and based on that I will definitely grab a ticket to the full thing at The Stand); and Richard Herring appearing from the audience, ripping up Lee's book and throwing it at him. Apparently the reviewer at Chortle thought this was an actual surprise rather than an orchestrated bit reminiscent of some of their old routines, which prompted Herring to devote part of today's daily Fringe podcast he does with Andrew Collins to playing a voicemail message of Stewart Lee asking him to come and do it. Egg and Chortle's face must surely be in alignment.

Lee performed a range of material, with older stuff in the first half and a new routine in the second which was really good. I do like the William Wallace bit but I've seen it a few times now and it was nice to hear some grandfather-related whimsy and Russell Howard inspired vitriol. Will feel like some kind of comedy traitor whenever I watch Mock the Week now. Well I won't at all, but it was funny stuff.

There was also an appearance from Look Around You character Tony Rudd (Eldon again), singing Machadaynu accompanied by Franz Ferdinand, which seemed quite surreal until Frank Chickens* came on to do a couple of songs. And then there was Lee himself singing That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate (the Mission of Burma song that inspired the title of his book) to close the show, which confounded my expectations (and from thence the humour arose... Except he actually pulled it off pretty well). I suspect this may have been an enactment a pretty long-held fantasy, and good on him for doing it.

*If you are a user of the internet and interested in this year's Festival, you may be aware of the Fosters-sponsored 'Comedy God' poll and Stewart Lee's distaste for it. He pointed out that acts like Frank Chickens who haven't been seen at the Fringe since 1984 are hardly going to get many votes from a festival-going public who may not even have been born then, although they could be the funniest thing ever. Thus he inadvertently launched a campaign to get people voting for them, strongly supported by Richard Herring and Twitter, and they now have something like 50% of the votes in the poll.

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