Although briefly covered by ‘misanthropy‘ and ‘meta-humour‘, Stewart Lee’s elevated status among white Brits means that he requires an entry of his own. His acerbic humour, hatred for the Tories and slow-crescendo-delivery means that his fanbase is entirely limited to white Brits; however, their devotion to him is absolute.
As unashamedly elitist as a left-wing comedian will go (all of his fans have at least one university degree), he takes great pride in his narrow appeal, referring to the frequent walkouts he provokes as ‘refining the audience’. His recent cult TV show Comedy Vehicle has brought him financial stability, but also means a higher number of people who do not like his particular brand of humour accidentally coming to his live shows.
His audience-baiting act, or ‘passive aggressive war of attrition’, consists mainly of:
* insulting other comedians,
* insulting the audience,
* pointing out how badly his jokes are going down,
* repetition of one unlikely concept for 40 minutes (with slight variations).
His attack on other comedians is two-pronged: on the one hand, he criticises comedians who think political correctness has ‘gone mad’ and mistake offensiveness for ‘bravery’; on the other, he despises the observational comedy of Michael McIntyre et al. For this reason, white Brits have realised that they hate all other comedians, and are only able to enjoy Stewart Lee and Daniel Kitson.
Some of Stewart Lee’s extended comedic routines have centred around Scooby Doo, pear cider, the Queen’s vagina, PC World, an encounter with Jesus Christ, buses to and from Stoke Newington, the IRA, and crisps. One of his long-running jokes is that he doesn’t have any jokes. He may make a joke, then accuse the audience of being racist for laughing at it. Otherwise, when the audience fail to laugh at something he says, he casts doubt over their intelligence. This is seen as keeping white Brits on their toes.
Half of Stewart Lee’s appeal to white Brits is that they know they are part of the elect few who ‘understand’ him. Not only a comedian, he is seen as a shining example of morals, intelligence, politics and lifestyle. Together with his collaborator Armando Iannucci, he is part of the sacred group of satirists which all white Brits admire and aspire to.