Thursday, 3 November 2016

Gig Review: Stewart Lee @ Liverpool Philharmonic, 2/11/16

Today I am scratchy-throated from laughing so much. The reason for my hoarseness? Stewart Lee's brilliant gig at the Liverpool Philharmonic last night. I haven't laughed so much and so hard in ages.

This was a very special night. I had heard about the gig via Stewart's newsletters in the summer and promptly booked my ticket, bagging a seat in the front row. The gig is part of Stewart's latest tour, entitled Content Provider, but it is still being run-in and won't officially start until later this month. As such the evening was a very relaxed affair and afforded us the chance to see material that may exist only for the evening, as Stew hones the show in preparation for a fully-fledged nationwide tour.

Though, having said that, if he does decided to drop anything then I don't envy him that decision; it's a show full of riches that riffs primarily on the preoccupations and interests of the under 40s, how accessible content is in the digital age, and how such technological advancements are making us stupid and lazy.

My view from the front row

So many things had me laughing 'til I cried, including digs at Brexit, Game of Thrones, the difference between Tinder and dating agencies of the past and, in turn, the differences between jazz and folk, the two Russell's (Howard and Brand) and the intricacies of the touring business. But perhaps best of all, was a long and deliriously funny surreal pondering on the S&M practices of Stew's grandparents during the Second World War - I thought I'd broke a rib by that point!

Seated next to me at the front row was a guy who introduced himself and advised me before the show started that he had a very unique laugh. That laugh quickly became apparent almost as soon as Stew bounded on stage and I see that it has been discussed on twitter today. For what it's worth, I witnessed one bloke asking him to 'tone it down' during the interval before a steward came along and notified the guy that some 'complaints' had been made. But there was genuinely nothing he could do, this was his laugh, he wasn't putting it on, and I felt bad that people were singling him out. OK, it was a bit mad and a little distracting, but it was amusing too. People saying he should be banned from shows or that he ruined the night are talking out of their arse - and one person claimed she paid £100 for a front row seat - Um, I paid twenty-odd quid for mine, where do you get your tickets from?! I heard Stewart himself refer to it at the signing afterwards but not in the way that some are claiming on there; ie that it ruined the night. All he said was that he found improvising off script a little difficult with such a distraction, but it was clear that it was no skin off his nose. He's a professional comedian with 30 years experience - he can handle it!

Which brings me to the signing after the show. Each ticket holder was entitled to a FREE DVD of Stewart's latest series Comedy Vehicle, complete with an illustrated limited edition slipcase which Stewart signed for me - as you can see above. It was a real pleasure, not only to see your comedy hero perform live, but to meet him afterwards too was the icing on the cake. He's a genuinely lovely guy.

I will definitely be going to see him again.