The Lyric Theatre, Lowry, Salford Quays
In the cavernous environs of the Lyric Theatre , Stewart Lee cut a lonely (and somewhat distant) figure on a massive stage. Stand up comedy always works better in a more intimate venue, so he had his work cut out to get his unique and cynical brand of humour across to an audience of sixteen hundred people. The fact that he was doing four nights here testified to the fact that, largely thanks to his enduring ‘Comedy Vehicle’ slot, he’s somewhat better known than other comedians of his ilk, but he’s yet to step up to the Michael Mcintyre arena-sized venues that have become the norm for so many comedians, most of whom have neither the intelligence nor the edginess of Mr Lee.
As ever, he was quick to mock the middle-class audience, imagining the reactions of people who’d been taken along to see him and were ‘waiting for the jokes to start.’ Tonight, his subjects ranged from UKIP (OK, an easy target but one that he demolished with characteristic glee) Norris McWhirter (!!!) and Rod Liddle, who came in for undreamed of levels of venom. Lee wheeled out all of most familiar tropes and devices. His use of repetition is by now legendary and he always manages to walk that difficult tightrope between the hilarious and the downright irritating. I was kept laughing constantly throughout the two sets and let’s face it, that is pretty much the object of the exercise.
I’d love to see his act in a smaller venue, but experience over the past few years has told me, that acquiring tickets to his slots at the Edinburgh Festival is an almost impossible task.