Comedy Review: Stewart Lee, Carpet Remnant World

Three jokes. Three jokes, Stewart Lee promised us at the start of his new show, ‘Carpet Remnant World’. For a ninety minute performance that may seem a paltry return. He didn’t care. Neither did the audience after witnessing Lee at his acerbic best.

In his twenty five year career Stewart Lee has held that most feted title of being a ‘comedian’s comedian’. He has purposefully avoided the exposure that the majority of his profession crave, for fear of attracting what he describes as “Jimmy Carr fans.” His arrogance and intellectual snobbery are unabashed. As expected, the crowd that packed the Leicester Square Theatre couldn’t have been more middle class if it were a celeriac sale at Waitrose. 

His opening monologue centred on world affairs, detailing David Cameron’s shortcomings as a leader in comparison to Colonel Gaddafi: “Liyba…now that’s real Big Society”, although he did concede Muammar “hasn’t had the best of years.” 

Russell Howard, John Bishop and any every other member of the panel show circuit were dismissed for their banality, or in Frankie Boyle’s case, offensiveness without humour. 

Throughout, Lee demonstrated his usual high wire act of deconstructing jokes immediately after, or even before, their delivery, using repetition and pregnant pauses to heighten the sense of “passive aggressive monotony.” 

While the show was deliberately fragmented, a loose narrative weaved through on how his life now consists of just “driving on motorways to gigs” and “watching Scooby Do with my four year old son.” This culminated in a memorable scenario whereby Thatcher was seemingly at fault for Scooby and the gang’s constant misfortune. 

The second half was markedly more aggressive in tone. Twitter was denounced as simply surveillance, used by those whose “lives are empty…just like mine.” This led to a reading of vitriolic online comments critiquing not only his political ideology and comedic ability but his likeness to “a 90’s Eskimo.” 

The performance ended on a musical note. An inappropriately soothing jazz soundtrack played over a gloriously expletive filled rant that raged at everything from Bin Laden to the stores of Office World. 

Stewart Lee may complain that TV has diluted his audience, that middle aged parenthood has rendered his material meaningless and that our social media orientated, coalition governed society has left him jaded. Don’t believe him. This is razor-sharp subversive comedy at its best. 

+ posts

Leave a Reply

Verified by ExactMetrics