Tuesday, 31 August 2010

My (Firey) Relationship With Stewart Lee

I've started reading Stewart Lee's recent book and it's bloody good. I did a good two hour stint of pure reading this morning and I've rarely had that kind of session since I read Roald Dahl's Going Solo in 1989. Although I read a fair bit (because I'm smart) I find it difficult to do so for long periods of time - a problem I don't have with television which I can take for 20 hours at a stretch. Like much of what I do I imagine Stewart Lee would frown at that kind of low brow heavy dosage. This is the problem. Sometimes I feel like Stewart Lee is watching what I do and judging me.

Let me go back a bit to explain. In the early nineties I used to regularly go to my room to read Select magazine and listen to Lee and Herring on Radio One. Along with The Day Today and Reeves and Mortimer they were the first comedy programmes I properly loved. Later, on the 23rd of July 2001 (my 21st birthday) I went to see Stewart Lee, Simon Munnery and some others (I think Danny Bhoy was on) at the Camden Head in Islington. They were trying out new material but not having seen much live comedy I was blown away. Munnery was super pissed and spent his entire set shouting 'scum' at the audience. Lee, I remember talking about being adopted and (gently) berating my (then) girlfriend for laughing. Reading his book this morning has taught me that at that exact point (summer 2001) he was at the lowest ebb in his stand up career. I thought he was brilliant.

Now to the present day. For the last few years I have lived in the same neighbourhood as Stewart Lee and until recently we lived on the same road. This means that fairly regularly I see him on the street. We'd met a few times before we started bumping into each other but, really, we hardly know each other. We do however sometimes attempt a brief conversation. Having somewhat idolised him over the years and being awful at small talk I find these conversations tricky. This is not helped by the fact that he has a fairly distant air and in print and on stage seems to have strong negative opinions about a great deal of things. I must stress on the handful of occasions we've had these chats he's been perfectly pleasant. This does not change the fact though that throughout each of those mini events my paranoia leads me to think that he is (unfavourably) judging every single thing about me. Sometimes I read The Sun (something I'll have to defend in another blog) and I live in fear of Lee catching me with it on the street and vomiting in disgust.

Perhaps I'm revealing far too much about a dynamic he is completely unaware of. Should Stewart read this I suspect all our future street encounters will become horrible spectacles. Mr. Lee - let's talk this through. Or maybe not. That could be awful.

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