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StewartLee.jpg

Stewart Lee is a British stand up comedian, writer and director. Early on in his career he wrote material for Spitting Image and Weekending before teaming up with Richard Herring to write material for The Day Today's radio predecessor On The Hour. Lee And Herring later started in their radios sketch show Lionel Nimrod's Inexplicable World (Radio 4) and Fist of Fun (Radio 1) and presented three series of Lee and Herring on Radio 1 which mixed sketches which music chosen by the duo themselves. They later starred in a television version of Fist of Fun and a live Sunday afternoon show called This Morning With Richard Not Judy. Lee then moved away from performing to concentrate on directing shows for fellow comedians The Mighty Boosh and Simon Munnery before co-writing and directing the notorious musical Jerry Springer - The Opera which attracted a prosecution for blasphemy. He then returned to stand-up and, in 2007, was awarded the dubious honour of being the 41st best Stand Up Comedian (which he took as the title of his next tour). He returned to television with Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle, a mixture of stand-up and sketches.

Stewart Lee's comedy is noted for his extensive use of Deconstruction and Lampshading (to the point where he is likely to lampshade his deconstruction of a piece of Lampshading and then deconstruct himself doing so) and his ability to mine over half an hour's comedy from the most mundane of subjects.

He has so far released five stand up DVDs: Stand-Up Comedian (2005), 90s Comedian (2006), 41st Best Stand Up Ever! (2008), If You Prefer A Milder Comedian, Please Ask For One (2010) and Carpet Remnant World (2012). His latest stand up tour Content Provider saw him perform 214 shows up and down the UK, over the course of 2016-18. A recording of the show was released on the BBC on the 28th July, 2018.[1]

He wrote a novel called The Perfect Fool, and a book called How I Escaped My Certain Fate which is a sort of DVD Commentary on his first three DVDs.

Stewart Lee provides examples of the following tropes:
  • Biting the Hand Humour: Lee thought nothing of making fun of BBC Radio 4 comedy on his BBC comedy series, and once wrote a drunken sarcastic riposte to the Foster's Comedy God Poll while drunk on Foster's.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: A running joke in his TV series had Stewart Lee speaking favourably to his studio audience; and then turn round to the camera and berating the tv audience for not being at a live gig.
  • Call Back: One of the masters of this technique.
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" My Grandfather built his house out of old discarded poppies...now remember that because I'll be coming back to my Grandfather and, um, his nest of poppies and it'll be, um, extremely satisfying.

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    • In Content Provider, Lee lampshades his use of callbacks in a bit at the end of the first half, revealing a "glimpse behind the Wizard's Curtain". From then on, the number and use of callbacks is marked, even though they are used (often through repetition) throughout the first half too:
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"Just quickly, I'm gonna go over some of the jokes coming up in the second half...In the second half there's gonna be 2 more jokes about Deacon Blue, the eighties Scottish...they're not hilarious jokes, but what they are is what we call callbacks, and they tie back to the earlier mention of Deacon Blue and they give the show the illusion of structure, right, which is what raises us above the apes I think. Or "visiting American stand ups", as I call them."

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      • Having planted the seed of 'callbacks to come', the joke about American comics not using them (being apes, or less evolved) allows Lee, via a string of jokes which callback to the first half, to announce the interval, effectively pushing the callback (device) out of consciousness, until later on.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: He can, but his on-stage persona is that of a miserable failure, and so he takes great delight in pretending to tell awful jokes, when the comedy really comes from his despair.
    • He will also frequently tell a joke that is different from his usual style and then berate the audience for liking it, because it was shallow and simple-minded.
    • Season 2 of Comedy Vehicle drives this home. He's told if he wants a third series he needs to put more jokes in it. So he comes up with 4 jokes, and within the first episode, he tells three of them. They aren't great jokes.
  • Country Matters: masterful use of the 'c' word in his Content Provider show:
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"I don't know if you can make massive generalisations about people who voted to leave Europe anyway because people voted to leave Europe for all sorts of different reasons; and it wasn't just racists who voted to leave Europe... Beat Cunts did as well, didn't they? Stupid fucking cunts. Racists and cunts. And people with legitimate anxieties about ever closer political ties to Europe. "Dear Palace Theatre, South End, please inform the comedian (and I use that word advisedly) Stewart Lee - who I had the misfortune of being taken along to see by a friend last night - that I actually voted to leave Europe and I am neither a racist nor a cunt, merely someone with genuine anxieties about ever closer political ties to Europe. Yours, A. Cunt."

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    • Also see Hypocritical Humour below.
  • Crossing the Line Twice. One of his favourite devices, pushing a particular routine as far as the audience will take it, and then further.
  • Deconstruction: Lee loves to set a joke up or a particular set or style, completely ruin it, then spend the next 20 minutes explaining in detail every aspect of the joke and why it is funny.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: Lee's humour often revels in subverting this comedic rule, sometimes deliberately pushing it deliberately to reveal the absurdity of the jokes, other times just to save Daily Mail journalists a long and pointless email correspondence. His book "How I Escaped My Certain Fate" is basically him dissecting his routine and explaining the thought process behind each joke.
  • Hypocritical Humour: From 'How I Escaped My Certain Fate'. "I'm sick of reading on Daily Mail message boards that I am 'one of these foul-mouthed modern comedians' when I am absolutely not. Honestly, who are these cunts?"
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: In a routine about interviewing Ang Lee about his making of The Hulk, Stewart Lee milks a joke about 'Don't make me Ang Lee. You wouldn't like me when I'm Ang Lee' for all it is worth (finishing with another incredibly lame pun about him going to the dentist at 2.30).
    • This is a a Played Straight deconstruction of the way 'Ang Lee' is a homophone of the Engrish pronunciation of 'angry'. The 'milking' aspect illustrates the nuanced difference between naively saying something which sounds offensive, in contrast to intentionally saying something that is offensive.
  • Lame Pun: as the voice of Pliny, in the Histor's Eye segment of This Morning With Richard Not Judy (TMWRNJ), Lee provides many mainly egg and bird-based puns.[3]
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Egg! You said 'egg'!

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  • Money, Dear Boy: The reason for his appearing on a stream of quiz shows in 2006 was to pay for his wedding.
  • One of Us: He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Marvel comics, particularly the Incredible Hulk. (He once challenged an audience member to ask him a question about The Hulk comics strip; when the audience member jokingly asked him what colour he was, Stewart Lee correctly replied that he was grey for the first few issues).
  • Political Correctness: One of the few comedians to come out in favour of Political Correctness (or at least defend the principles behind it).
  • Present Company Excluded: Real Life example, when Lee won the City Limits New Act of the Year competition, the judge told him 'Well done, we'll show those Oxbridge wankers like Rob Newman and David Baddiel what real comedy is". The judge then resorted to this trope when Stewart Lee informed him that he too was an Oxbridge gradate.
  • Refuge in Audacity. The only possible refuge for a particular routine involving vomiting in Jesus's face.
  • Screwed by the Network: This Morning with Richard Not Judy was jostled around a bit and at one point the show was moved from it's normal Friday slot to Thursday, only nobody at the BBC told anybody involved in the making of the show about it and the episode wasn't yet edited to be shown. So Lee and Co had to rush around to find an editing suite to get the show done in time.
    • Also there is the infamous failed BBC show. That was commissioned and given the green light for a pilot. Then the BBC had a change of heart and required the pilot first before the series would get commissioned. Before finally being rejected a year after being commissioned with no pilot filmed.
  • Speaking, Like, Totally Teen: His TV routine about rappers 'You know the rappers that they have now, on the top of the pops? And outside the shopping precincts'
  • Take That: Chris Moyles, Dan Brown, Jeremy Clarkson, Jim Davidson, Joe Pasquale...the list is endless. When discussing common traits of his comedy, he mentions that it often involves "disproportionate hatred towards relatively innocuous figures."
    • Lee even has a special section of his website called Plagiarists' Corner dedicated to various people who have ripped off his material over the years.
      • Plagiarist's Corner is most likely an ironic venture, in that most of the material has only passing similarities which get more bizarre as you go through the list.
      • And that sometimes it's him being the plagiarist.
  • Viewers are Morons. Especially when they vote Del Boy falling through the bar the funniest comedy moment of the century. 'That's what you like is it? A man falling over!'
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Richard Herring.

  1. Info on Content Provider stewartlee.co.uk
  2. Joke theft twitter.com
  3. Histor's Eye youtube.com
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