serious

The urine dance of the Zuni Indians of New Mexico

Some time ago a newspaper article - probably in the Manchester Guardian - mentioned Stewart Lee's book "How I escaped my certain fate", which I've just finished. Rather fine it is, too. Partly it's about his life and the progress of his career during the nineties, until it faltered rather at the end of the decade, then his involvement with Jerry Springer - The Opera in the early years of this century and how his his career recovered and developed afterwards. This is interesting enough in itself for what he has to say about comedy, and I should really go back through it and note all the comics he recommends for future reference, but it also includes three sections which are transcripts of his stand-up sets with extensive footnotes commenting on, expanding on, and on occasions apologising for, what he was saying. The material still had me holding my sides (which could be viewed as a drawback, he points out - shouldn't stand-up be trying to do things that don't work equally well written down?) but the commentary adds a lot. It's worth the price of admission on its own, I'd say.

In other book-related news, I've lent Charlotte my copy of Quite Ugly One Morning. I could tell by the delighted laughter the point when she encountered The Jobby.
  • Current Location: the boxroom
  • Current Mood: awake
  • Current Music: Oysterband - The early days of a better nation
I introduced Simon to the joys of Christopher Brookmyre not long since, via the same book.
I enjoyed the Lee book too. What was interesting for me was how the footnotes revealed the nature of the comic performance. I had previously happened across the same comedian on successive nights and been hugely surprised that even the "unscripted" bits were "scripted" -- that is some seemingly spontaneous audience banter took the same form two nights running. I found it really interesting then when Lee's saying "I'll vary this part a little bit if I get bored with it" and describing in particular how the routine varies marginally from night to night.
There was a bit quoted in the review about how the public are greatly impressed by the easy bits of stand-up and almost ignore the difficult and clever ones. It was nice to get a little bit of insight into that.
"He's in oil? Is he a sardine?" :-)

That said, I found the first episode of his latest bbc2 programme a little more difficult and clever than it was actually funny. I was trying not to find that because he spent a lot of the show talking about how he didn't have jokes in it. In the end though that was what I found.

Still, looking forward to seeing him later this month for the first time. I saw Richard Herring a couple of times recently and he's still very funny albeit in a very different way.
I haven't seen that series. I should probably watch it soon and bear that in mind.
Certainly will.

"What substance do you expect to be preserved in for commercial purposes in the event of your death?"
Great! I already have Stewart Lee's book sitting beside my bed waiting for just the right moment to pick it up.
I did chuckle at a recent tweet I read: 'Eventually Stewart Lee's show will only consist of a blank screen with 30 minutes of him doing a voiceover explaining a joke he won't tell.'

I'm really not sure if they were intending to sound derogatory or not. I for one thought the book was absolute genius, if anything funnier than the original shows.
I have seen people - Sadowitz springs to mind - go right through an obvious joke then pointedly veer off elsewhere right before the punchline, and never return to it. Someone somewhere once stated that that more or less was the defining feature of alternative comedy.
The keech on mantelpiece? One of the more memorable opening chapters I've read, and sets the tone of the book nicely.