Coming off the back of his latest critically lauded series of Comedy Vehicle, Stewart Lee arrived at Doncaster’s Cask Theatre on typically confrontational form – ‘there used to be a perfectly good theatre here that I enjoyed playing in… it’s just fields now’. This wasn’t to be the only personal touch afforded to the Doncaster audience, ‘I see all of Doncaster’s guardian readers have turned out’, Lee noted. He later added ‘I might go over the allocated time tonight but let’s face it there is nothing else to do in Doncaster’. While Lee probably wasn’t joking, as he would tell you himself he rarely tells a joke, it is this all out assault on his long suffering audience that makes his comedy routine so unique and so polarizing.
His critics may call him a champagne socialist who isn’t funny but Lee had the full backing of a vocal Doncaster crowd no matter how much he tried to convince us that he didn’t. He repeatedly made references to the upper tier not understanding his act or having showed up to the wrong gig and almost twenty minutes were allocated to one unfortunate punter who had the temerity to show up late.
Lee is at once like a fine wine and a forgotten carton of milk in as much his act seems to improve with age as he grows ever more sour and bitter. The argument that Lee has become a caricature is redundant when he is this funny, whilst still delivering biting social satire with a healthy dollop of the ridiculous. Lee is just as comfortable talking about Paul Nuttal of ‘UKIPS’ as he is imagining what the national radio station of Azerbaijan would sound like. Indeed, he seemed almost TOO comfortable with the latter as he spent a good fifteen minutes making random sounds and words to form a hypothetical Azerbaijani song. This was the closest Lee came to losing some sections of the audience, but that was always his intention, and he appeared almost annoyed that some people stuck with him throughout what was an absurd section.
Stewart Lee is a London based, Oxford schooled comedian but his left leaning politics, keen satirical eye and the fact that he is still happy to squeeze in a bit of potty humour, ensures that he will always have an adoring crowd in Doncaster. Come again soon Stew!
This article first appeared in Doncopolitan magazine: