Stewart Lee: Snowflake/Tornado
Leicester Square Theatre, 10th December 2019
It’s Stewart Lee. He is so far above other comedians that it makes me wonder why they bother. Of course it is a 5* review. Even when he is meandering he is a genius. Here the show was delayed by a power failure. Just more for him to get his teeth into. This double header routine is already lighter than the shows of recent years. The old boy is mellowing. But it is still as sharp as it needs to be and he wants it to be.
Went with BD who, by virtue of age, education and upbringing will not lot anything offensive pass. This is the only fat, bearded, privileged, cantankerous, white, straight, fifty-something bloke that she has the time of day for. Apart from Dad of course. And that is touch and go. I took her to see Ben Elton a week or so later. Based on my memory and our shared love of Blackadder. He was awful. An embarrassment. Pretending to be aware but reverting to lazy, tired cliche. I didn’t need BD to tell me what was wrong. We walked as soon as we could.
SL, beyond the deconstruction, reconstruction, repetition, dissonance, surreality, clever-clever, childish, audience prodding, provocation, intimidation, irony, sarcasm, faux self-regard, self-deprecation, is an optimist, a moral crusader who cannot tolerate hypocrisy even in himself. In a world where everyone is seeking offence or victimhood, he is critical in all senses. Of course you already know that and will have already signed up to see the show. Of which there are many. As he says, without him us liberals have been “starved of the opportunity to participate in mass agreement”. If you haven’t why don’t you go and see what all the fuss is about.
Snowflake works because it defends the “politically correct” that the uncritical rail against largely through the confrontation they employ. The attack of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s comedy conceit. The painful put-down of Ricky Gervais “saying the unsayable”. Tornado works through incongruity. The confused Netflix listing, the Alan Bennett expansion and the Dave Chapelle anecdote. And those on just the hooks on which so many other laughs are secured.
For he is very, very, very funny.