Top 7 Descriptions of Comedians by Stewart Lee

71VY1eglGHLIn 2010, Faber & Faber published Stewart Lee’s book (of three transcribed and annotated standup shows) called How I Escaped My Certain Fate: The Life and Deaths of a Stand-Up Comedian, about which Lee says, “Ideally, my ambition is to get to the point where none of my stand-up works on the page. I don’t think stand-up should really work on the page, so the very existence of this book is an indication of my ultimate failure as a comedian.” Instead of doing a straight-up review, as I have already said in the teaser post that this is the best book on the British alternative comedy scene of its era, I have highlighted a few quotes from the book of Stewart Lee talking about his fellow comedians. Take into consideration that some of these should be taken in the spirit they are meant, often as a joke but sometimes flatly honest. Buy the book from Powells to read the whole segments in context.

“In the year 2525, the futuristic supa-comedian in his silver suit will have developed an act so distinctive and steeped in his own individual specialized world view, that his lines would be incomprehensible in the mouth of anyone else, and we can see the beginning of this evolution in the work of Harry Hill, Simon Munnery, and, er, Eddie Izzard. In the meantime, most jokes are still viewed as part of the public domain.”

Richard Herring writes comedy in the vocabulary of a sexually frustrated Methodist preacher…

“I am reliably informed that Michael McIntyre doesn’t actually have a ‘man drawer,’ and invented the concept in order to ridicule ordinary people, for whom he has nothing but haughty contempt.”

The Actor Kevin Eldon is always a great comedy problem solver, a good person to ask why something is or isn’t working, but he is a Buddhist, and conceitedly believes that he has lived a good life and so will be reincarnated as a rich king or a pop star or something.

“It puzzled me that Eddie Izzard was always reviewed positively in the nineties for his supposed improvisational abilities, when in fact his real skill was to make his prepared ideas look as if they were utterly spontaneous, thereby involving everyone in the room, even in massive stadiums, in a succession of beautiful moments of apparent conception that all seemed to be unrepeatable.”

…Josie Long, a young comic who talked about paintings and the wonder of science onstage, swore loudly and pathologically in tea rooms, and appeared to make most of her own clothes. Josie was one of the acts I’d been impressed by when I started back on the circuit.

“Peter Kay and Matt Lucas…may seem more generous, but secretly, Jimmy Carr is little short of a living saint.”

 

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