Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle, BBC2

Did we like it?
A welcome return to the small screen for Richard Herring’s taller, (marginally) slimmer and deadpan former partner. Mixing standup comedy about a particular subject – in this case, the phenomenon of ‘toilet books’ – interspersed with relevant sketches, this showed Lee at his witty, caustic best. We’ll definitely be tuning in again.

What was good about it?
• Stewart’s critique of Dan Brown’s writing style and how the world really doesn’t need the musings of Chris Moyles was a bit like nuking fish in a barrel, but was still done with his trademark caustic wit.
• Stewart’s comment that after buying six Jeremy Clarkson books on Amazon it needs thousands of man-hours to subsequently correct your customer profile – otherwise you get recommendations such as “Mein Kampf”.
• Chris Moyles had confessed that he had no greater ambition for his writings than just being a good “toilet book”. Stewart pointed out that having a quote from Davina McCall on the front that the book was “butt-clenchingly honest” put paid to that lofty ambition.
• The great Kevin Eldon played William Tyndale (the first man to translate the Bible into English, and subsequently burnt at the stake) translating Moyles book into English, and suffering his eventual martyrdom. “For too long the written word has been the preserve of the elite. Chris Moyles expresses such noble and improving sentiments!”
• After taking the mickey out of Asher D (So Solid Crew and Grange Hill) and his autobiography (a page of pictures for every page of text), Stewart faced the camera and admitted he was ‘disrespecting’ Asher and the So Solid Crew, “Disrespecting you to the max!” We cut to Stewart sitting in his comedy vehicle, whilst a black guy pulled up in a 4×4 next to him. Stewart looks edgy until suddenly the Grange Hill ‘sausage on a fork’ pops into view.
• “No, I haven’t read the latest Harry Potter book, but I have read the complete works of visionary poet William Blake. So fuck off!”
• Stewart mocking the Irish “real-life tragedy” books. It’s a pity that “The Teats that wept Tears” by Paddy McGinty’s Goat hasn’t been published.

What was bad about it?
• Like an old man repeating himself, Lee’s description of “rappers, the rap singers – you see them on ‘The Top of the Pops’” was initially funny, but he could have cut it short by a minute to get some more material in.

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6 thoughts on “Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle, BBC2

  1. I was inclined to agree re. the ‘overlong’ rappers thing – funny at first, but went on too long.But it was all set-up for the ‘now clearly this book isn’t aimed at me’. Which made it funnier. It may have been an indulgence in a 30min TV episode – but sod it, it’s a brave move in today’s TV world. Loved it.

  2. I was inclined to agree re. the ‘overlong’ rappers thing – funny at first, but went on too long.But it was all set-up for the ‘now clearly this book isn’t aimed at me’. Which made it funnier. It may have been an indulgence in a 30min TV episode – but sod it, it’s a brave move in today’s TV world. Loved it.

  3. i think part of the beauty of the the rapper sequence was that it did go on longer than would be usually comfortable and i loved it… hopefully indication that the bbc is willing to re-embrace people like stewart lee who are delivering intelligent, thoughtful comedy without targeting the lowest common denominator. bbc does deliver some great comedy but like in music today you see so many me-too “products”. refreshing to see him back but disappointing that he has been gone so long.. if that makes sense.

  4. i think part of the beauty of the the rapper sequence was that it did go on longer than would be usually comfortable and i loved it… hopefully indication that the bbc is willing to re-embrace people like stewart lee who are delivering intelligent, thoughtful comedy without targeting the lowest common denominator. bbc does deliver some great comedy but like in music today you see so many me-too “products”. refreshing to see him back but disappointing that he has been gone so long.. if that makes sense.

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