Archive for March, 2009

Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle

Posted in Television on 17 March, 2009 by Ally

Following the demise of This Morning With Richard Not Judy, Stewart Lee has been sadly absent from the airwaves for about ten years, despite a run of critically-acclaimed, exceedingly funny standup shows and DVD releases. Probably something to do with Jerry Springer: The Opera and the whole blasphemy thing. Anyway, last night he made a triumphant return to television with the first episode of Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle, a series of half-hour programs with a beautifully simply premise.

Every week I’m talking about different things, that’s how it works, you’ve seen television before.

It is essentially a standup show on television. He stands up, on a stage, in front of an appreciative audience in a real venue. And he talks. He says funny things. Funny, often cynical, sometimes cruel things. The theme of the first episode is Toilet Books, or celebrity hardbacks — admittedly an easy target, but one which gives Mr. Lee a small barrel full of annoying fish, and a massive gun with which to shoot them (a metaphor that would place me in his crosshairs, I’m sure). Highlights include an impression of Chris Moyles’ comatose friends, a scathing attack on the literary style of famous writing man Dan Brown, advice on buying Jeremy Clarkson books from Amazon, half-remembered Harry Potter titles (“Harry Potter and the Tree of Nothing”) and a glorious dismissal of Russell Brand’s My Booky Wook.

You can read Russell Brand’s autobiography and dismiss it as rubbish if you like. Or you can dismiss it as rubbish without reading it to save time, if you prefer.

The standup material is interspersed with brief sketches featuring such familiar faces as Kevin Eldon, Paul Putner and Simon Munnery. These were less successful — a few lingered too long on an idea with potential, while others were just wide of the mark. However, the sight of Stewart Lee waiting at traffic lights in his Comedy Vehicle did raise a smile, as did a scene where Dan Brown is reimagined as a surgeon delivering bad news.

The 75-year-old man died a painful death on the large green table. It was sad.

Despite the minor sketch-related setback, Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle is still the funniest thing the BBC have delivered in a long while. I laughed so much, I could neither speak nor breathe afterwards. I highly recommend it for those of you with little regard for speech or breath.

Recommended reading:
Stewart Lee’s website
BBC iPlayer: Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle (available in the UK for one week)