Last Friday night I went to see stand up legend Stewart Lee performing at the Derby Assembly rooms. Well, not the main room, the smaller Darwin Suite that is nearby. This was one of the stops on the 41st Best Stand Up Ever tour, named after his ranking in a recent Channel 4 poll.
The narrative arc of the show was following the creation of the material for the tour, starting with his idea of doing an entire show named March of the Mallards, in response to people's reactions to the natural family and love of penguins. Needless to say, the mallard isn't quite so affectionate, and it's this ability to draw comedy from what can often be described as the plain wrong that makes Lee's comedy so special. If you don't believe this, then check out the William Wallace section on his Stand Up Comedian DVD.
The focus of the show goes around the handle of what it means to be the 41st Best Stand Up ever, and the impact that has on his life when even his mum doesn't like his material. One of the interesting points about his stand up is that he doesn't essentially tell jokes, but more anecdotes with funny ideas running through them. Though I would love to put some quotes in here to show the humour, it could be ruined as Lee's delivery style is a majorly significant part of it. It's thought provoking, interesting, witty and original, and it's just a shame that there are people with the undeniable talent of Lee playing the small room in Derby when the Friday Night Project runs into it's fifth series.
I very briefly met Stewart whilst he was selling merchandise and signing tickets outside of the venue. I can honestly say that he is one of the most pleasant, polite and respectful performers I've ever met, who engages fans in conversation rather than assuming he is above them. I can't recommend his work enough. Please do support him on this tour, or if it's too late for that, pick a copy of the last tour "Stand Up Comedian". It's well worth it.
At the start of his show, he joked that it was his dream to conquer Derby. Well, joking or not, he definitely managed it with this performance.