As Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle turns the corner, JFK limousine style into Deeley Plaza and its third series his status couldn’t be much higher. He’s often imitated, regularly stolen from, wrote for On the Hour & early Partridge and TMWRNJ remains an all-time great. He now has Chris Morris replacing Armando Iannucci as his interrogator critiquing his act, his arrogance and the self-referential nature of everything he does. Meta piles upon meta as the two converse but a snarky Morris is the least of his problems. He’s got to deal with Lee Mack.
Yeah, y’heard. In his 2012 autobiography Mack The Life, Mack appears to reference Lee when he talks of a “cultural bully from the Oxbridge Mafia who wants to appear morally superior but couldn’t cut the mustard on a panel game”. As beefs go that salvo is the modern day stand-up equivalent of Suge Knight’s speech at the 1995 Source Awards.¹
Part-baffled, part-amused by the Mack attack (“seriously, what have I ever done to him?”) he uses it as a springboard into a counteroffensive on the Internet and the seemingly endless possibilities for people looking to chart his movements, broadcast his appearance, call him a smug fat twat and the like.
Like some evangelist Luddite the Internet can only ever corrupt for him. That vital creative impulse is dulled, the one that inspired the kids who changed signs for Shilbottle into “Shitbottle” and the exact same one Michelangelo had when he first gazed up at the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
Of course he doesn’t really believe any of this shit. Smug, self-absorbed, condescending, fat, superior, insufferable, fat? Maybe but come clocking² off time when accounts are tallied he’s still a funny fucker. He’s Pliny and you’re not. That’s more than enough to be going on with.
The verdict: You don’t hear much from Emma Kennedy these days do you?
Marks out of 10: 7.5
¹ Aerial Telly’s copy of Mack the Life contains no such mention of Lee by name, just the sentence “Some comics refuse to go on things like panel games on the pretence that they see them as artistically bereft, but actually it’s because they know they wouldn’t cut the mustard.” So who knows or indeed cares what the truth is?
² Clucking like a hen! Egg!