A full house at Buxton Opera House uzzed in gleeful anticipation of an evening with Stewart Lee in his new show, Content Provider.
As ever, master of his craft Lee did not disappoint, although in his typical superior persona, he berated the two-thirds of the audience that he alleged were not keeping up with his humour.
With his BBC2 series, Comedy Vehicle, having been axed, he was free to pursue a more ambitious agenda, examining the world’s current polarised politics, Brexit and Trump included, and our self- absorbed, often shallow obsession with the digital world in which everything is up for sale and no experience is hard won.
Lee’s intellectual skill is to weave all the various strands into one overarching narrative, while his comic one is to emphasise his theories through hilarious, sometimes grotesque, exaggeration. Manufacturing friction between himself and the audience, deconstructing jokes in his trademark manner, he lead us on a sometimes edgy journey through a hall of mirrors, reflecting the absurdities of the human condition.
Lee said he based his humour on ‘a manufactured antagonism with the audience,’ and the audience loved it. While keeping the audience on the edge of their seats he also seeks out that parts of his routine that don’t work out and talks about what he’s trying to do and explores and deconstructs what is happening, while also accusing his audience of being too dim to understand him.
He is interesting, challenging, unsettling and very funny.
Climbing up a mountain of his rival comedians’ budget priced DVDs, Lee ended the show silhouetted against Caspar David Friedrich’s allegorical painting “Wanderer above the Sea of Fog”, a lone figure confronted by the grandeur of nature, before turning, wildly gurning, to take a selfie.
Stewart Lee, comedic genius.