Stewart Lee: Scrambled Egg

Review by Ben Judge | 09 Aug 2008

“You’ve worked me out… I’m just looking at an object and being sarcastic about it,” says Stewart Lee, breaking down his set to a finely tuned analytical degree, having just looked at and been sarcastic about both Franklyn Ajaye’s 1974 album I’m A Comedian, Seriously and Chris Moyles’ autobiography The Tough Second Book.“And I’ve made a decent twenty-year career out of doing that.”

Of course, Lee has done much more than take cheap shots at minor celebrities.Much more. This is the man who gave the world Jerry Springer: The Opera and incurred the wrath of the God-squad; the man whose set 90s Comedian is heralded as an all-time classic; and the man who can stretch a single joke out across an hour and keep a room full of people doubled over in laughter.In short, Stewart Lee is one of the finest comedians that Britain has ever produced.

This year’s set is another exemplary hour of wonderful stand-up-cum-social-commentary.Lee is an immaculate performer: self-aware, varied, intelligent and relevant.His material combines an analysis of the mundane while fitting it expertly into a wider social context.His apparently disparate set is finally tied together under the grander theme of railing against a society that is culturally and intellectually in rapid decline.And the reason that he is so important is that his target is a valid one – in our market-economy, where the consumer is king, Lee does not lazily blame politicians.He knows who is really at fault. Us.

Lee’s genius, though, is in never being preachy, condescending or even particularly overt.The stories he tells early on plant the seed of an idea and it’s not until the set’s climax that you understand the full picture that he is trying to show – that you see each set-piece in its relation to the whole.This is a stunningly affecting, memorable performance from one of the few comic greats in Edinburgh this year.


More on Stewart Lee and Edinburgh Fringe Festival:

Stewart Lee & Bob Slayer: How The Fringe Escaped Its Certain Fate / Stewart Lee in interview: "Annoying, confusing, weird, satirical and clever" / Stewart Lee - 41st Best Stand-Up Ever! / Fringe Therapy: Stewart Lee / Stewart Lee: Carpet Remnant World