I’m sure most stand-up regulars know that situation where you have to force laughter out, even with a comedian you really like. Their set might be good, but you might be doing it to keep the energy up, or just out of courtesy. However, whenever I watch Lee, live or not, the laughter is honest and never forced.

The reason lies in the fact that most of Lee’s comedy doesn’t come from the set-up and punchline formula, even though it is there; it comes from everything around the joke. Lee’s characteristic deconstructive style emphasises the absurdist nature of all stand-up comedy, it makes you realise the bizarre situation of one person standing in front of hundreds of strangers, trying to make them laugh.

Everything you could expect from a Stewart Lee set is there; meticulously planned moments of audience contempt, frantic repetition, and unrelenting self-deprecation. It’s stand-up pedigree, go see him.

Words: Adam Wilson

Stewart Lee – A Room with a Stew, The Assembly Rooms, August 14-30 (not 17th), 2:15 PM

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