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Ediburgh Festival review – Stewart Lee

Thursday, August 26 2010

Stewart Lee's Edinburgh show is ambitious and barbed, writes Jay Richardson.

Stewart Lee

Seemingly genuinely bewildered at some perceived slight by Fringe flavour of the month Bo Burnham, Stewart Lee introduced this work-in-progress show of new and established material with the now virtually obligatory warning that it wasn’t for us, a weekend crowd, and that some sections would work better than others.

Playfully chiding Americans for their reaction to the BP oil spill, pastiching perceptions of knife-wielding Hackney kids through media scares about foxes, he drags out a telephone conversation with an estate agent about the desirability of a property with a view of otters, a tried-and-tested routine that teases the audience’s investment, the dialogue becoming a commentary on our engagement.

With the bit between his teeth, he ponders celebrity support for charity, launching into a sustained, wonderfully absurd critique of Adrian Chiles and Russell Howard and their supposed altruism. Unabashed about calling another comic out on their failings, it’s an ambitious, developing piece that benefits from the frisson of contravening an unspoken code.

Ultimately, Lee shifts his attention to David Cameron and an insider's view he claims to have had on the Prime Minister's time at Oxford. Summarising his feelings in song, it’s an effective, understated ending to an otherwise barbed 70 minutes.

Three stars

Stewart Lee's Vegetable Stew is on at 5.15pm at the Stand, click here for booking.


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