Review: Stewart Lee at York Theatre Royal

After a  2 year wait, Stewart Lee is back again in terrific form.

By Angie Millard

From the moment he enters the stage with the comment: ‘Stewart Lee’s let himself go’, to the full assault on Ricky Gervais whose: ‘I say the unsayable’ is dealt with in Lee’s inimitable style, he is relentlessly funny. 

Stewart Lee crafts a seemingly casual improvised show into a polished, sharp riposte to the world of stand-up. His writing is precise and circular in form and is a lesson to the comics who rely on the one liner gag. He takes an idea and like a dog with a bone, he chews on his theme until the time comes to bury it and even then, he’ll dig it up again 30 minutes later. 

I don’t wish to comment on his material or style as it speaks for itself but I have to say that his intelligence and idiosyncratic view of the world make him unique. I had already seen the first part of the bill before lockdown and enjoyed the addition of new material such as his impersonation of Alan Bennet as a highbrow critic. He admits to being afraid that Boris Johnson would be forced to resign as much of the political comment would be lost, ironically, it remains.

When inferior talent retreats to the world of the Game Show Host and chat show sofas, Lee remains to tell us what he truly thinks about the media-led hype. The invention of wokeness and political correctness is a perfect place for him to begin in the second half of the show and he wreaks havoc with his analysis of the fallout.

On the night I saw the show, Lee demonstrated his expertise by managing a heckler to great comic effect. But when the man continued later in the gig he seemed to disturb the rhythm of Lee’s material and the way it is structured. However the interruption gave me insight into the intellectual analysis the comedian applies to his work and the choices he makes with every audience. 

The shows were being televised so it will be interesting to see if the heckler survives the cut. It was a great night out and a pleasure to see every seat in York Theatre Royal occupied.

Stewart Lee performed Snowflake/Tornado at York Theatre Royal on Tuesday 3 May 2022.