Stewart Lee: 90s Comedian, Underbelly
Charlie Pickering: Betterman, Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh
Wednesday 31 August 2005
The relationship between the atheistic Lee, who describes the Catholic Church as his favourite kind of clandestine global evil, and organised religion became impossible this year after the ruckus over televising his Jerry Springer the Opera, for which he received death threats. Tonight he remarked on a red laser beam coming from the audience, making light of its threat, but at that moment the malicious make-up of some of his detractors hit home.
In the second half of his act tonight, Lee likens his problems with the religious establishment to those of Jesus, hence the clever parallel mentioned at the start. The long set piece about Lee's drunken walk with Jesus contains all of the Lee trademarks: a kind of uber-rhetoric of repeated phrases, loose ends tidied up and the ultimate in cheeky irreverence. It wouldn't work in a club, but Lee carries it off well as part of an hour-long show. This is a comedian who even a zealous opponent had to admit was "an intelligent young man", before adding, "It's a pity [he'll] burn in hell."
The first half of the show is much more the club set: Pope lollies, endoscopy gags, and a campaign to encourage us to throw Dan Brown's books in the loo.
It's true that Lee is almost as much fun to write about as he is to watch; where his ego fears to tread sometimes impresses and appals in equal measure. Tonight he divides the audience reaction to the clever jokes into teams A to F, descending the alphabet as their understanding of the punchline diminished. Even the "dunces" laughed as they stood in the corner.
Lee has kindly included a quote from my review of his show last year on his poster. It reads: "Surly, arrogant, laboured." This year I'll go for burly, still quite arrogant but savoured.
There's a bright start to Charlie Pickering's show, with the comedian attempting to fill two e-mail accounts by setting up addresses as Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, creating a cyberspace re-enactment of the "Rumble in the Jungle".But the delivery of his routines is often bland, and crass one-liners such as, "If you don't believe in gay marriage, then don't marry a gay", are fillers.
Pickering has technical ability, but he's not in the same league as others accompanying him on the Perrier Newcomer list.
TV reviewBroadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair
Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere
TVThe Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 2 'Do not give them a reason': Baltimore man divides police and rioters in hope of avoiding violence
- 3 X Factor in crisis as numbers of people auditioning plummets
- 4 Baltimore riots: Furious mother marches her son home live on TV
- 5 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
Fast & Furious 7 overtakes Frozen to become 5th highest grossing movie of all time
Poldark finale review: How a costume drama became a Sunday night swoon-fest
Avengers: Age of Ultron: Nearly 700 German cinemas refuse to show movie
The Visit: Watch terrifying trailer for M Night Shyamalan's latest horror film
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 3 - review: Sansa and manhood-lopping torturer Ramsay Bolton, really?
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia