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How I escaped my certain fate, Stewart Lee (2011)

Very interesting insight into the techniques of comedy and the 1980’s-2000’s British stand-up scene.

Stewart Lee is an English stand-up comedian, writer and director, who is possibly better known abroad for having co-authored Jerry Springer: The Opera. Here, he analyses of three of his recent shows: first, he explains context and how the ideas came to him; then, next to the transcript of his performance, he explains what mechanisms he uses and why.

This “behind-the-scene” vision is fascinating, especially around his second show (“90’s comedian”), drawing upon the scandal Jerry Springer created (Stewart Lee was threatened with a lawsuit for blasphemy). Inspired by a seminal 2005 documentary called The Aristocrats, Lee decides to test the limits, and use the most offensive material possible for his show. Yet, he masterfully prepares the audience and turns the scene so that instead of being horribly scatological, it is rather sweet and comforting — and the more so as he adds to it. As he explains:

“…a symbol, be it an icon or a flag or whatever, is only as worthy of respect as the values of the people that appropriate it.”

Highly recommended for this demonstration!

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