sun 15/12/2019

Stewart Lee: Tornado/Snowflake, Leicester Square Theatre review - snark to Sharknado | reviews, news & interviews

Stewart Lee: Tornado/Snowflake, Leicester Square Theatre review - snark to Sharknado

Stewart Lee: Tornado/Snowflake, Leicester Square Theatre review - snark to Sharknado

Double bill from the king of sarcasm

Stewart Lee is on marvellous form after three years awayIdil Sukan

Stewart Lee is back on the road after three years, and he comes back wonderfully refreshed and on marvellous form with this double header, Tornado/Snowflake.

Tornado, the first hour, starts with Lee reading out the wrong blurb that his show Comedy Vehicle was given on Netflix. It actually describes the B-movie Sharknado, in which sharks rain from the sky. The joke is teased out and weaves through the hour, as he chisels away at a favourite subject in his work, his perceived standing in comedy. Would anybody notice if they tuned in to his show after reading that description?

The mention of Netflix allows Lee to ruminate on the relationship between comedic talent and commercial worth, so he names names. Of course Ricky Gervais and Jimmy Carr are targets, but others too. There's a set piece about US comic Dave Chappelle, which, in typical Lee style, moves from description of fact to sublimely surreal invention as he describes an evening that starts backstage at Leicester Square Theatre and results a scary chase around Soho. This being Lee, he manages to get a fine Brexit joke in the telling of the tale as well.

In Snowflake, it's Tony Parsons, Ricky Gervais (again) and Phoebe Waller-Bridge who get it in the neck. The first is demolished in a gloriously pedantic essay on grammar, while Gervais is parodied for “saying the unsayable” in a lengthy riff that has no actual words, and Waller-Bridge is ridiculed for her “discovery” of addressing the audience directly. To be fair, she doesn't claim this, but Lee nicely deconstructs the iconic status bestowed on her as he acts out how everything from Shakespeare to weather forecasters may have looked if they had not had the same lightbulb moment.

There's so much comedy packed in that one could almost miss the deeper layers of Lee's material. But it's there, in the seemingly throwaway lines, or a detail in a lengthy tale, as he makes a deep dive into the post-PC age, and what those of a liberal bent are to make of it. But he likes to wrongfoot and tease the audience: as he slyly jokes at the top of the show, his fans have been "starved of the opportunity to participate in mass agreement" since he was last on tour.

While the trademarks of Stewart Lee shows – the sarcasm, the surreal invention, the faux self-regard and obsession with his place in the comedy firmament – are very much present here, he also introduces new elements to his performance: a playful physicality and literary spoofs. Despite the Alan Bennett section, complete with a passable imitation, slightly outstaying its welcome, he's on top form and it's great to have him back

There's so much comedy packed in that one could almost miss the deeper layers

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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Post(?)-PC age? Really?

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