A veteran of television, radio and not to mention the standup circuit, it has inexplicably taken the BBC around 10 years to give Stewart Lee his own show since the partnership with Richard Herring ended after the final edition of Sunday morning comedy fest This Morning With Richard Not Judy which was broadcast weekly during 1998 and 1999.
In the meantime he’s been keeping himself busy with Jerry Springer – The Opera and various directorial duties as well as a recent tour, Stewart Lee – 41st Best Stand Up Ever! but developing into one of the best comedians on the circuit.
As such I had high hopes for Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle, but things were looking bad when BBC Two scheduled the show at 10pm on a Monday night. Compilation reruns of That Mitchell and Webb Look airing beforehand might draw in a larger audience, but it didn’t fill me with confidence.
There was no need to worry, however. Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle is a well written series of conversational standup material intersected with relevant sketches that usually enhance but occasionally distract from (and always jar).
Recorded before an audience in a “seated bar” setup reminiscent of Jack Dee’s debut series The Jack Dee Show in 1992, Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle probably isn’t for newcomers to standup comedy. Swinging from puerile to hugely inventive and intelligent at the toss of a coin, Stewart Lee is the Kenny Dalglish of standup comedy – hugely talented, remarkable at pulling the strings and able to switch styles, turning on a sixpence.