Stewart Lee began the Leicester Comedy Festival in brilliant style at De Montfort Hall on Wednesday evening.
Lee’s shows are often very improvisational, or so it seems, it became very difficult to tell whether he had many of the audience jokes planned or not as the delivery was always perfect. Much of the show was spent jokingly telling the audience how bad they were and that they didn’t understand any of the jokes being told, and this relationship with the audience made the show even better.
The show, called Content Provider, was loosely based upon current 21st century ways of doing things, such as Donald Trump’s presidential campaign using Twitter. Lee described himself as a content provider, but admitted that due to how farcical 2016 had been, it was incredibly difficult for comedians to actual come up with political jokes, because of how ridiculous the news has been.
The best thing about Stewart Lee is that it is clear he plays a fictionalised version of himself on stage, but it also fairly clear that this character does not stray very far from the truth. The audience is not left wondering where his political leanings lie, but at the same time nobody is safe.
In the first half Lee asked an audience member how much he thinks his DVDs are worth on Amazon, after spending ten minutes telling them that almost all other comedian DVD’s are worth 1p. It is then suddenly realised that the backdrop of Lee’s set, which looks like books, is actually hundreds of comedian DVD’s, all purchased for 1p each. This is a classic Stewart Lee thing to do, it is doubtful that many other comedians’ would be such jovially arrogant as to purchase someone else’s work.
At the interval it was difficult to know how Lee could improve on the first half, but the format completely changed. Around 20 minutes was spent on one long anecdote in true comedian style, something that Lee very rarely adheres to. He describes how much easier it is for young people to learn about strange things on the internet than it would have been for generations ago to learn about topics that may have been taboo.
Lee ends the show by showing the audience a picture of the 19th masterpiece A Sea of Fog by Caspar David Friedrich, showing how man was confused and staring into the unknown in front of him, highlighting how different life is now.
The show lasted for the best part of two hours, ten minutes over schedule according to Lee, because he “had to explain the jokes.” This was a brilliant way to open the Leicester Comedy Festival, and really highlights how many different varieties of comedy that is being shown in the city in such a small period of time.