Yes, I know this is a field with many contenders. But this foam-flecked diatribe by professional comedian Stewart Lee — which I urge you to read if only for the purposes of sheer, unadulterated, torture porn ecstasy — easily takes the soggy biscuit as the very nadir of its genre.
It’s so sphincter-poppingly angry, so totally unamusing and uninsightful, and so painfully, excruciatingly right-on that I believe it will become a key set text, endlessly studied and dissected by cultural historians of the future.
Like Ricky Gervais’s Golden Globes speech, it will be recognised as a pivotal moment in the culture wars — when the tide turned and normal, sensible folk realised that they don’t, after all, have to take finger-wagging moral lectures from the hypocritical, shallow, bitter, angry, groupthink-mired, virtue-signalling gimps that comprise the showbiz wankerati.
Stewart Lee is a very successful comedian, very likely worth several million. I haven’t seen much of his stuff; nor, quite likely have you — for he is one of those comics that appears on the BBC and Channel 4 quite a bit but whom you tend to turn off after about thirty seconds of rambling, woke monologue because he’s really more of a Guardian-reader kind of thing.
Still, here is what the Guardian said about him when it recently ranked him the 41st best comic of the 21st century:The “comedian’s comedian”, Lee is known for his meandering, oddball tales and surreal projects such as Jerry Springer: The Opera. Bridging the gap between 90s standup and the present (his influence is clear on bright, bizarre young things like James Acaster), Lee’s recent show, Content Provider, tackled Brexit with brilliant amounts of bathos (“Ooh no,” he coos on stage, “I only wanted bendy bananas, and now there’s this chaotic inferno of hate!”).
Or, as Lee once put it with his inimitable charm: “It wasn’t just racists that voted to leave Europe. Cunts did as well. Stupid fucking cunts.”
Lee’s is the perfect example of the type of comedy which is not designed to provoke laughter so much as solemn head-nodding and applause at the politically correct sentiment. “Brexit, Orange Man bad. etc” *clap clap clap*.”
This is certainly the case with his Guardian column.
First he makes it clear how much he hates Jeremy Clarkson, for not virtue-signalling enough about the Australian bush fires.
Clarkson’s suggestion that Australians needed to “come home”, while unconsciously prefiguring the mass migrations the climate crisis will cause in this decade, could read as a slap in the face to Indigenous Australians, for whom the continent has always been “home”, even before it was officially discovered for them by a helpful Dutch bloke in 1606.
Next he makes it clear how much he hates Prime Minister Boris Johnson, by producing a hilarious mash-up of all the hateful things Boris has supposedly said, stripped of all context, and with a few extra rude words thrown in to show just how very, very much he hates Boris.
Does Clarkson gaze at Boris Piccaninny Watermelon Letterbox Cake Bumboys Vampires Haircut Wall-Spaffer Spunk-Burster Fuck-Business Fuck-the-Families Get-Off-My-Fucking-Laptop Girly-Swot Big-Girl’s-Blouse Chicken-Frit Hulk-Smash Noseringed-Crusties Death-Humbug Technology-Lessons Surrender-Bullshit French-Turds Dog-Whistle Get-Stuffed FactcheckUK@CCHQ 88%-lies Get-Brexit-Done Johnson and wonder why he isn’t prime minister?
Finally, he makes clear how very, very much he hates Ricky Gervais for his Golden Globes speech. What seems especially to have piqued Lee is that right-wing people found Gervais’s set funny.
Last week, a slew of right-leaning sources cited Gervais’s “just jokes” liberal-bating Golden Globes set as vindication of a populist backlash against political correctness, investing its harmless waspish jibes with a political dimension they didn’t really have […]
In the Daily Mail, Sarah Vine ripped the lid off the rotting kitchen food waste bin of her mind to retch forth some choice owl pellets of praise for Gervais’s performative outrage. For Vine, Gervais was “a knight in shining armour, saviour of humanity, saviour of comedy, restorer of sanity and… undisputed Wokefinder General”, the latter comment surely the title of his next tour if he wants to attract only furious moronic c**ts.
So the people who laughed at Gervais’s set are just “furious moronic c**ts”, are they? It’s not the invective that’s the problem, here, I think so much of the paucity of argument underpinning it.
Lee is a privately-educated posh boy who read English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, for heaven’s sake. Surely, somewhere along the line, some kindly soul must have explained to Little Lord Fauntleroy that sweary insults aren’t enough to carry your reader or audience? Yes, they may add spice but if that’s the best you can do — spitting angry variants on the theme that people you disagree with are horrid and stupid and smell of poo — then it doesn’t make you come across as particular clever or persuasive or indeed funny. Just crass and potty-mouthed and a bit basic.
The hatred directed against columnist Sarah Vine is particularly revealing, I think. If any conservative writer were to use such demeaning, dehumanising language about a woman, the Twitter outrage brigade — led by woke comics like Lee — would be on their case in no time. Yet somehow, if the woman is a conservative that makes everything acceptable.
It’s these inconsistencies and double-standards which are going to be the undoing of woke culture. Professional lefties like Lee have enjoyed a pretty good run over the last decade or so, riding the Social Justice wave, milking the market for cry-bullying, virtue-signalling, humour-free rants which may not get many laughs but make a bunch of snowflakes feel a glow of self-righteousness in their safe spaces.
But the tide is turning and I suspect Lee knows it.
Clarkson, Turds and the Wokefinder General are narcissistic populists, all clever enough to know better, who continue to court the attention of angry impotent people and take no personal responsibilty for the consequences of their words, other mortals merely collateral damage, rabbits churned up in the combine harvester blades of their ongoing ambitions.
If anyone’s angry and impotent at this point, though, it’s bitter, politically correct members of the Remain-voting liberal elite. Lee and his ilk — having got their way for so long, and having made all the running in a culture where PC organisations like the BBC and the Guardian set the agenda — are suddenly finding themselves on the wrong side of history. They’ve lost Brexit; woke values are being increasingly mocked; bloviating members of the wankerati — such as the Hollywood set mocked by Gervais, or indeed like Lee himself — are fast losing their credibility.
Lee writes near the end:
I am aware that I am supposed to be a “so-called comedian” and that this column reads like a blunt polemic.
No it doesn’t. It reads like a career-suicide note.
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