Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle
This Morning with Richard Not Judy, Stewart Lee and Richard Herring‘s Sunday morning show was one of the most maltreated shows in living memory. Shoved around by careless schedulers for not being Test Match cricket, vilified by green ink Points of View mentals for its sacreligious bent and largely ignored by the illiterate woad-painted savages holding the remotes for not being The Heaven and Earth show, it was a glorious oasis in the unforgiving tundra of Sunday morning viewing. It was smart, subversive and very funny – obviously, it could never last. It stumbled through two seasons like Jim Caviezel in The Passion of the Christ before finally succumbing to the cold indifference of a world that didn’t care. Maybe to make up for that shameful episode in their history, the BBC have commissioned Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle, a platform for the high status member of the Lee and Herring duo to get his stand-up and sketches to a wider audience than the roomful of twats who typically attend stand-up gigs. Television is noble like that sometimes.
"This Morning with Richard Not Judy was one of the most maltreated shows in living memory. Shoved around by careless schedulers, it stumbled through two seasons like Jim Caviezel in the Passion of the Christ before finally succumbing to the cold indifference of the world that didn’t care."
The focus of the first week’s show was books, in particular the celebrity hardback. He warns against buying Jeremy Clarkson books on Amazon as it “changes your profile in a way which takes literally thousands of man-hours to correct”. Your reader recommendations will never be the same again. An excellent observation though as Amazon users are uniformly worthless scum he shouldn’t worry too much about that.
He’s kind of angry here as Aerial Telly feels stand-up comics should be. He rags on Dan Brown for lines like "the famous man looked at the red cup" and the poverty of aspiration that led Chris Moyles to say he only wanted to write a good toilet book. “Oh, Icarus, fly not too close to the Sun, lest your waxen wings melt” he tells the fat homophobe.1
“Lee’s bizarre rendering of Andrew Lloyd-Webber as “a monk in a wind tunnel drunk on the smell of his own cold grey farts” was chillingly accurate.”
The second show was all about telly included a lengthy, risky section about Del Boy falling through the bar on Only Fools and Horses being voted the funniest television moment of all time. Risky because much of it was delivered prone on the stage, facing away from the audience reiterating the brilliance of Del Boy’s pratfall in a voice that was all sarcastic. The gamble just about pays off though and his bizarre rendering of Andrew Lloyd-Webber as “a monk in a wind tunnel drunk on the smell of his own cold grey farts” was chillingly accurate.
The vehicle has coughed and spluttered in the ratings initially, drawing only one million viewers with its first episode, many of whom lied about watching the show out of politeness. This is not really surprising. Light on punchlines, heavy on whimsy, it’s not the kind of easily categorised show that appeals to the masses, particularly when it tells them they are stupid for liking Moyles, Brown and Del Boy falling through the bar.
"Light on punchlines, heavy on whimsy, it’s not the kind of easily categorised show that appeals to the masses, particularly when it tells them they are stupid for liking Moyles, Brown and Del Boy falling through the bar."
But fuck it. Someone needs to tell them and if a comedian can’t then who? Lee is a very funny guy who produces smart, principled and ballsy stand up. The BBC are still trembling in a cupboard, wiping the cum from their faces after the twin atrocities of Bonekickers and Coming of Age but they buy themselves a stay of execution with shows like this.
The best thing about it: His unerring eye for the stupidities we overlook.
The worst thing about it: The running Channel 4 shit sketch came from the cutting room floor of the third season of Little Britain where it really should have stayed.
The verdict on Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle: Good to have Mark Fowler back.
Marks out of 10: 8
1 In the opinion of some. Like me.