Comic Stewart Lee is nothing short of a contradiction.
He’s a comedians’ comedian who hates most comedians and an award winning comic who holds a blatant disregard for comedy awards.
Mr Lee spends much of the first half condemning the majority of the crowd for not being on his wavelength, while the second half is one long complaint that he has nothing to talk about.
Throughout Friday’s show, which is part of the Glasgow Comedy festival, he attacks the conventions of popular comics such as Frankie Boyle (he describes the use of a shocking phrase at the end of a bad joke as “Boyle’s Law”), Michael McIntyre and the fresh batch of young comedians he despairingly describes as “the Russells”.
Half stand-up show, half lecture in which he breaks down the structure of stand-up, the audience leaves a Stewart Lee gig feeling they know an awful lot more about comedy than they did going in.
At the sold out King’s Theatre, it is easy to tell that Mr Lee would feel far more at home at a smaller venue such as The Stand, or so he would have you believe.
He uses the crowd to great effect, playing them off one another — those in the stalls who understand the jokes and have been with him since the beginning, against those in the circle whom, he describes friends of fans, who can’t be bothered thinking and would be more at home at a taping of Michael McIntyre’s comedy road show.
Time and time again, he pulls the crowd in with shock and awe comments similar to that of Frankie Boyle, before lambasting the audience for enjoying them.
The venom is not just for other comedians and the audience, but he also saves some for himself.
He breaks down his own joke structures before launching into a 10 minute verbatim reading of online criticisms accompanied by jazz music while apparently drinking red wine straight out the bottle.
Stewart Lee is clearly not for everyone and watching him can be hard work — but it’s rewarding.
A friend with whom I attended the show — and an aspiring stand-up — had never been to see Mr Lee in person and described the experience as being “one chalked off the bucket list”.
While this is in stark contrast to the online vitriol around Stewart Lee and his “stupid smug face”, you get the feeling that’s just how he wants it.