What makes a person funny? This, as it turns out, is an incredibly divisive question. I have (some might say) an unhealthy obsession with Stewart Lee. His penchant for subverting his audience expectations, for me, is addictive. But, by his own admission, this can be tedious for some people. As comedians tend to do, they put reviews on their posters. Here are the reviews on Stew’s recent tour publicity poster:
“Those who give up an evening to see him deserve his thanks. Not his toxic scorn.” The Telegraph.
“Totally evil propaganda. Offensive, biased, untrue and unfunny.” Patricia Culligan. UKIP
Now, it may be argued that to have a bad review from a member of UKIP is a good thing and if there’s one thing Stew has proven in his stand up, it’s that his politics don’t necessarily align with anything UKIP stand for. As he has said “Voting for UKIP as a protest vote is like shitting your hotel bed as a protest against bad service, then realising you’ve now got to sleep in a shitted bed.”
I’m obviously paraphrasing here.
You may ask yourself then, how does he get away with putting these reviews on his poster? Would Michael McIntyre do this? It works in two ways. It’s sort of like having your cake and eating it. 1: It’s saying that despite the (Mostly) right-wing acrimony towards Stew he still has a massive audience and is growing in popularity and 2: You may not enjoy this. That’s nice of him. The fact that a comedian is aware that certain members of his audience may have been ‘brought by their friends,’ and not enjoy it means that they can no longer complain because he said on his poster that it may not be for you. If you don’t enjoy it, it’s your own fault.
I recently had a conversation with some friends about Lee Evans, I don’t get it, one friend did and the other was scared of him. The latter I don’t quite get because I think I could easily take Lee Evans in a fight. Maybe even with one hand tied behind my back, stood in a bucket of slowly setting concrete while an ill-tempered moose licks my face. One friend in this holy trinity of comedy confab was set in his love for Lee Evans, “You two can fuck off,” he delicately said and then it hit me. Like most things, comedy and more importantly stand up comedy is, ‘like beauty and terrorism,’ relative. To take it one step further, I think it can be a direct result of your upbringing and social status. Certain people get a kick out of Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown waxing lyrical about lady’s parts, certain people get a kick out of watching a sweaty man in a suit and tie contort his way around material and certain people get a kick out of watching Bernard Manning say incredibly ignorant things even though he was a massive cunt may he Rest in Peace.
Stewart Lee (like Dylan Moran, Marc Maron, Bill Hicks etc.) for me, is the epitome of what a stand up should be: brave, intelligent, not afraid to broach issues and go where other people may fear to tread and he is obviously hilarious. I don’t need a comedian to tell me what we have in common or where he keeps his keys. I need a comedian to challenge me, to make me think.
Stand up in its truer form is a skill very few people have, and as me and Stephen try to refine our material for our first foray into this field will we sink or swim? We’re yet to find out. Who knows, maybe it’s easy.
Ignorance is indeed bliss.
P.S. In the up-coming podcasts about comedy (possibly one a month) we will be discussing American comedians, funny chat show hosts, sketch shows and as we are absolute in our hatred towards ignorance we will be doing a podcast about women stand ups and women in comedy. Well, we’ll talk about the fit ones at least.
Peace out bitches!
EPISODE 22 of FRAME BY FRAME