Stewart Lee is road-testing material for his forthcoming TV series covering the themes of charity, the current Government and a certain television presenter. Satisfying the Beeb’s lawyers may have compelled him to tone down his material. The only part that provokes muttered objections is his feigned longing for a return to gentlemanly terrorists like the IRA. Not the most sensitive material for a city they once bombed.
Lee acknowledges his reputation as a comedian who doesn’t tell jokes by explaining that he has actually written three with real punchlines. Old habits die-hard and Lee still analyses his material during its delivery. Thus he offers alternative wordings to the jokes and tells us in advance how we will know that they are on their way.
His approach of alienating (or even boring) the audience before winning them back is risky but it is hard not to be drawn into Lee’s slightly distorted view of the world. He was at University with many of the current Cabinet and concludes by drawing parallels between his being exploited by the elite then and the way they are treating the country. The story loses none of its power for being, he admits, fictional.