Norwich Theatre Royal - Sunday February 1
From the outset stand-up comic Stewart Lee seemed to delight in seeking to sabotage his own routine.
He opened with an unenthusiastic run-down of what topics he would cover and roughly how long they take. An encore was optional.
This forms part of a main Lee device - purposefully taking mystique away from the performance. He’s a laid-bare magician who not only performs the tricks, but also shows you exactly how they are done.
Lee’s on-stage persona is such that he is not afraid to lay into his audience for not meeting his expectations.
Laughing at jokes he considers not worthy enough, or overlooking ones which he thinks were among the show’s best, attracts his scorn. The audience loved it.
It is clever because these two constructs are consistently applied to the stand-up material itself, adding extra layers of comic effect.
Lee tackles topics few dare to, most bravely with his take on Islamophobia and the clamour from some quarters to target Islam with comedy, but also with absorbing routines on multiculturalism and national identity. And urine.
Not only did he provide the belly laughs, there was a catharsis in seeing someone like Lee plot a skilful course through some of the hottest topics of our times.
The tour continues