Stewart Lee Snowflake/Tornado at Brighton Dome - Review

‘I can do it and I’m very good at it’ – Stewart Lee’s prosaic performance assessment doesn’t even begin to cover it...

Thursday, 27th February 2020, 12:54 pm

Despite physically creaking a little at the edges Lee is writing the best material of his life with levels of comic technique which should shame a generation of one-note TV-softened comedians.

His latest show Snowflake/Tornado, which packed out four nights at Brighton Dome last week (February 16-20), was littered with barbs and savage lines against comics who have carved out lucrative careers with comparative creative paucity.

The evening was divided into two huge chunks of material, the first vaguely connected to a misleading shark-based Netflix review (Tornado), the second a sprawling look at the growing polarisation of the country (Snowflake).

For years he’s been the smartest comic around, deconstructing and poking around the all-too often formulaic processes of modern comedy.

It was a disappointment to many when the BBC axed his BAFTA-winning TV show in 2016 (due to budget cuts), but the flipside is that his stand-up shows seem invigorated without the crossover of writing material which could be used for six episodes of TV.

Of course there were plenty of familiar devices from the self-styled ‘Master of Multiple Callback Endings’ – including the chiding of the crowd: ‘Normally a bigger laugh there – you’ve obviously not understood the basic conceit’, and the extended, often uncomfortable, repetition of a gag.

But everything seemed harder, faster and more packed with ideas and there was much which was sharp, physical, and asthma attack-inducingly funny.

One of the most welcome aspects of the show was that Lee is still fighting the good fight for fairness and refreshed a familiar old routine about political correctness.

After reminding us that a whole generation had mistaken political correctness for health and safety legislation, he outlined some absurd and grotesque flights of hate-filled fantasy.

Unfortunately those flights of hate-filled fantasy weren’t as vile as those expressed on Question Time the previous evening, and he accepted that ‘reality has outstripped comedy’.

He ended with an unambiguous broadside at that depressing reality and also a positive message for the ‘virtue-signalling metropolitan liberal elite of Brighton’ who lapped it up, and will, understandably, return in droves for his next visit.

By Steve Holloway