Audience fright. I can’t help it, but I suffer from bad audience fright, especially in comedy performances. If you didn’t know, audience fright is much like stage fright- except your emotional response is dialled down because of the pressure put on you to laugh from other spectators. That’s my own definition because I’m not sure if it exists. Is it just me? Probably.
So to come out of a show, a day after the election (and I was tired because staying up to watch the results come in from the different constituencies is my idea of fun), with the kind of emotional rhythmic breathing that looks suspiciously like laughter– is saying something.
I’ve set myself up to look like a Scrooge now- and that’s really not the case. We’ve already established that I laugh like a hyena in the comfort of my own home, and even at Stewart Lee’s ‘Content Provider‘ show in Basingstoke. I like how I’m justifying my own writing when I could just re-write it. That is a lot of effort though.
It was ofcorse purely a coincidence that Stewart Lee’s Basingstoke leg of his tour fell on the night after the election, but that didn’t stop him from making a few topical jokes about the election, or as he described it- the only election where the people who lost were happier than the people who won. The show its self has the recurring theme of ‘living in a digitised free-market economy‘, which was funnier than it sounds. But that’s the thing about Stewart Lee, his comedy is approached with intelligence, and you have to work to keep up, but is very (very) funny and also often not always safe for work. To give you a flavour of his comedy on the evening, he delivered his brutal and surreal critique of ‘the under 40s’ with their slurpy food pouches. And a brief history of bondage, but the less said about that the better…
The audience participation/improv was also deeply ingrained into this performance, and it was often hard to spot the line between the prepared material and the improvisation. Yet, this is not one of those performances where you have to worry about being singled out- unless you deserve it.
It is incredibly hard to describe this performance in words, but I will try. Lee has been a performer for nearly 30 years (according to himself) and yet this show was the funniest thing I’ve seen to date- and there is no other comedian who can fuse together satire, improvisation, and a critique of society in such a great and hilarious way.
Stewart Lee Content Provider 2017- Surreal, Satirical, and Hilarious- Five Stars.