Stewart Lee review: Very funny and clever in some parts

Stewart Lee. Picture Steve Ullathorne.

Stewart Lee. Picture Steve Ullathorne. - Credit: Archant

When my companion said he was looking forward to watching Stewart Lee as he was ready to switch off after arduous week at work, it raised both my eyebrows.

As Lee is the last person you need to have a relaxing evening of gentility with.

You need to be alert. Switched on. Maybe that's where the term 'high-brow' comes from - the wide-eyed concentration that is required to get the most from Lee's style of comedy.

The forty nine year old always deserves an audience who is willing to work hard for their laughs - and the majority of the first half at the Theatre Royal on Friday was exactly that.

Gripping onto a battered and bent microphone stand, which was nearly used in smashing up a pre-warned punter who used a mobile phone, is well used but still managed to keep upright. It would be too obvious to point of the similarity of its owner.

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Working out where the lines of which is ramshackle and which is beautifully constructed layed comedy, is part of the entertainment as Lee attacked everything and anything in his sights, including himself.

Volunteer ushers, other stand ups, Sky, Trump, supporters of Trump, Brexit, Deacon Blue, supporters of Brexit, and randomly the residents of Diss. Although he did admit he had never been to Diss - he just found it an amusing name.

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The main target throughout the show though - was the 'Friends of the Theatre Royal'. That valiant group of people who go to most performances, and are more comfortable with shows with the songs of Gerry an the Pacemakers, than a stumbling later-years-Elvis lookalike calling them all names under the sun.

Lee spends more time explaining why his routine is funnier and cleverer than any other working stand-up to the casual passer-bys of tonight's show than doing his routine, which ultimately, IS his routine. And it's funny and clever. Very funny and clever in some parts, especially the wistful ending.

Despite having three primetime series' on the BBC, and turned down offers from Sky, Lee is more mainstream than he'd like to admit. With 200+ sold out shows completed, Content Provider is slick, poetic and an captivating night of comedy.

But not for everyone.

If watching a man stomp and smash across thousands of other stand up DVDs that he bought for a 1p each, whilst ranting about the liberal elite and Diss is your idea of a high-brow evening, then you missed out.

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