Stewart Lee: Content Provider (2018) - full transcript

Stewart Lee's 2017/18 touring stand-up show, recorded live at the Palace Theatre, Southend-on-Sea, in April 2018. - stop by if you're interested in the nutritional composition of food
This programme contains very strong
language and adult humour.


Well, Stewart, hello.

I think I'd like to start off
by asking... you see yourself at this late
juncture of your career?

I mean, what is it that you exactly
think you're doing?

I don't know,

and it's not something that I feel
is good enough to be broadcast.

I want to stop this now,

but there's always just enough of an
inducement to carry on

and there doesn't seem to be any way
of bringing it to a close.

The series was cancelled.

I was told by BBC Two Comedy that
they didn't want any more.

Then another bloke sort of
intervened and said,

"Oh, maybe you should..."

People of Southend, Essex,

it's time now to endure the stand-up
comedy of the comedian, Stewart Lee!



Thank you for coming.

Right. Let's crack on and tell you
what's happening.

So, there's a number of problems
with this show.

The main one, right, is that I,

I started writing this about 18
months ago, OK?

And the idea was it was going to be
two hours on the notion

of the individual in a digitised
free-market economy.

OK? And I was going to base it all
around this painting,

which is Caspar David Friedrich's
1818 German romantic masterpiece

Wanderer Above A Sea Of Fog.

Now, hopefully you've all had the

and you've done the reading you'll
need to have done.


Then I did about a month's work on
that and then the Brexit vote

happened, right, and there seemed to
an assumption everywhere

that I should have written some
jokes about Brexit.

Now, I haven't written any jokes
about Brexit,

cos I was trying to write a show
that I could keep on the road

for 18 months and as I didn't know
how Brexit was going to pan out,

I didn't write any jokes about it in
case I couldn't use them in the show

and monetise the work I've done,

So, I haven't written any jokes
about Brexit,

cos I didn't see the point of
committing to a course of action

for which there's no logical or
financial justification.


That's right, clap the things you
agree with!


Clap, clap, clap! Agree, agree,

"Did you see Stewart Lee in

"Yeah." "Was it funny?"

"No, but I agreed the fuck out
of it."


"It's almost as if it were targeted
at my exact social demographic,

"in a cynical attempt to maintain a
future-proof audience for long-term

"mortgage repayment purposes."

Can it be, Southend, that the future
of Britain, Europe, Southend,

the world, has been altered forever
as a result, it would appear,

of the ongoing competitive rivalry
of a small group of competitive

posh men, right? It looks like
that's what's happened.

When he was a student,

David Cameron put his penis into a
dead pig's face, didn't he?


And then to outdo him,

to do something even more bizarre
and obscene,

Michael Gove put his penis into a
Daily Mail journalist.


Imagine doing that!




Caustic wit, that, like Toby Young.

You like it?

And then to outdo him,

to do something even more
sick-making and wrong,

Boris Johnson put himself into the
role of Foreign Secretary.


And if you think it's funny that
Boris Johnson is Foreign Secretary,

and it is, arguably,

I guarantee you he's going to be
Prime Minister at some point.

Theresa May has been put in place,
it's now clear,

by the steering committee as a sort
of palate cleanser.

Isn't she? Kind of a...

..a nasty-tasting mouthwash that you
swill around your gums

before being forced to eat actual
human shit.


A lot of casualties, weren't there,
in the Brexit shake-up?

A lot of people, you know, Michael
Gove and Sarah Vine,

they sort of disappeared initially
but they're back now, aren't they?

Michael Gove and Sarah Vine.

And they're currently trying to
reinvent themselves as the

amusing celebrity political couple
for young millennials so jaded

they no longer find Neil and
Christine Hamilton

quite sickening enough.


Michael Gove and Sarah Vine are the
Neil and Christine Hamilton

for the Two Girls One Cup



Yeah, well... That's a shame.


OK, here's what's happened, right?

This is two nights in Southend and,
right, I am aware

Southend's not really my target
sort of town,

but this was at a nice Victorian
theatre, the theatre...

The theatre was available.


Well, it's just that's normally the
first big laugh of the night,


..joke there. With the...

But we've got a lot of people here.

You've got the sort of target
audience here,

sort of comedy fans and people that
know about,

about the politics and stuff.

And then it's...

I've put on too many dates in
Southend, basically,

there's no...

Look at these people, this isn't my
crowd, is it?

Look at that, Essex.

Essex filth.

People that have...

Market traders on the run from
London, aren't they?


Lost their nerve and come to live in
the white supremacist theme park...



Should have been a bigger laugh,
that, honestly,

that Michael Gove joke, it's a...

It's a good joke.

So, h... W...

Have people brought friends with

Cos that often makes it go worse, if


I know what's happened, people that
used to come and see me

in the little cellar at the Pavilion
like 30 years ago, you've gone,

"Oh, he'll never fill the Palace
Theatre Southend for two nights.

"Let's help him out and we'll buy
four tickets,

"and we'll bring Alan and Claire,"
and they're...


They're sitting next to you, your
mates, nudging you and going,

"Is this him, is this the main one?


"Is it just this all night?

"Just a man complaining about

Yes, it is, until at least ten


Don't bring your friends because
it's filled it up

with the wrong people, hasn't it?

So, this perfectly serviceable stuff
is floundering.


It's not help... I don't need your
help to fill up.

This is all sold out.


If you're going, "No, it isn't,
Stew, there's two there

"for starters," right, they're...
All the seats are sold, right?

Everything's sold. What's happened
to me in the last few years,

and I don't really understand why,

but I've become popular enough that
the ticket touts buy these seats,

Stub Hub and that, and they try and
resell them online.

But I'm not popular enough for
anyone in Southend

to pay six times over the odds...

Don't imagine that disheartens me,
those empty seats.

Someone's bought them, right?

So, I've got the money. It's fine.


It's actually better cos it
means I've got the money

but there isn't one of your stupid
friends sitting in them going,

"What are these nouns, how do
words work?"

You know...

That's my dream -

an entirely sold out empty room.


Which would eliminate the main
problem with all my work,

which is the public's ongoing
inability to recognise its genius.


This is a very difficult time in
history to do stand-up

and I would appreciate your blanket
support, to be honest.

It's very... It's very...

Look, I went back on the road in
September, I did a week

in Oxford, right? That's Remain.
Then I did Doncaster.

That's Leave. Then I did Glasgow,

Dartford, Leave. This is about 60-40
in favour of Leave, wasn't it?

And the Remain-voting cities, now,
they loom out of the map,

don't they? Like fantasy citadels in
a Tolkien-esque landscape.


Wondrous walled cities full of
wizards and poets...


..and people who could understand


In the middle of a vast, swampy fen,

with, "Here there be trolls" written
over it.


Yeah, down here, laughter up there.

People going, hang on...
"Trolls, Stew?

"That's not a very fair way, you

"We are in Leave-voting

"Trolls, that's not a very fair way
to describe the English and Welsh

"majority that exercised their
democratic right to vote

"to leave the EU." And it isn't, to
be fair.

You know, and I think, look, we're
going to leave the EU.

That is happening. And I think
people have got to put their

differences behind them now and try
and make it work.

And I don't know if you can make
massive generalisations about people

that voted to leave Europe anyway
because people voted to leave Europe

for all sorts of different reasons,
you know,

and it wasn't just racists that
voted to leave Europe.


Cunts did as well, didn't they?


Stupid fucking cunts.




..and cunts...


NASALLY: ..and people with
legitimate anxieties

about ever-closer political ties to


"Dear Palace Theatre Southend...


"..please inform the comedian, and I
use that word advisedly..."


"..Stewart Lee, who I had the
misfortune of being taken along

"to see by friends last night..."


"..that I actually voted to leave

"and I am neither a racist nor a


"..merely someone with genuine

"about ever-closer political ties to

"Yours, A Cunt."




That's where they live, isn't it?


You know what? I don't know anything
about Burnham-on-Crouch.

I just drove through it, I thought,
"That'll do for that joke."


It's the first time it's got a



Yes, welcome to the music hall.


No, but it's difficult. You can't
make massive...

To be fair, you can't make massive
generalisations about people

that voted to leave Europe.

People did vote to leave Europe for
all sorts of different...

They did, don't snigger away
down there!

They voted for all... You know, not
everyone that voted to leave Europe

wanted to see Britain
immediately descend into being

an unaccountable single party state,

exploiting people's worst prejudices
to maintain power indefinitely.

Some people just wanted bendy
bananas, didn't they?

"Aw, no!

"I only wanted bendy bananas...

"and now there's this chaotic
inferno of hate."

"Ah well, never mind.

"At least the bananas are all bendy
again, aren't they?

"Like they always fucking were."

A lot of people voted to leave
Europe as a protest vote,

which, I understand that,
I sympathise with it.

If you spend your life driving
around the country, like me,

you can see the disparity that would
drive that.

My best friend of 35 years, Ian,

actually voted to leave Europe
as a protest vote.

But I believe it was I who wrote...


Still these people doing the work,
isn't it?

Down here, there's a...

There's a big laugh there that was
missed, right, and I'm filming this,

and I would appreciate...

OK, where... What... Where the...

Do you know what?

I'm going to try. I'm going to try
and sort this out now,

for the filming, so...

Where the laugh should have been
there, right, is when I went...


I know you know, it's...


"I know, sir!"


The kind of people that like me,


Yeah, you.


Cackling sycophants.

The people that are with him hate
him, because he goes to them,

"Have you not heard of Stewart Lee?
He's amazing, I can't believe it.

"Probably the best comedian...

"No, he's not been on Live At The
Apollo, obviously.

"You know, I think when you've
seen him,

"you can't really watch other

"It's more like art, really."

Yeah. The kind of people that like
me, innit?

Wankers, basically.

But, you know, without them,
that was...

OK, the laugh there should have
been when I said...

"I believe it was I who wrote,"

What they're laughing at down there,
they're going,

"Oh, yeah, he's parodying the idea,"

the perception of myself as a sort
of patronising elitist

who would quote his own work as a...

But, you know, you're just going,
"What an arrogant man," aren't you?

Up there, so it's not...

But anyway, try and listen in and
close the gaps up

because we need to...

So, I believe it was I who wrote...


I don't accept the second laugh.

I only take the first one, so...

It was me, it was in the Observer,

it was a very clever piece.

David Mitchell's ill a lot,
isn't he?


I wrote, "Voting to leave Europe
as a protest vote

"is a bit like shitting your hotel
bed as a protest against bad service

"and then realising you now have to
sleep in a shitted bed."

And my friend Ian, my best friend,
Leave voter, he said to me,

"Your metaphor doesn't make sense,

He said, "By your own admission,

"the EU is institutionally flawed
and freedom of movement

"can lead to exploitation of the
labour market, so in a way,"

he said, "There was already some
shit in the bed."

And I said, "Yes, Ian,
but if there's already some shit

"in the bed, you don't fix that

"by doing even more shit...

"..into the already shatted bed."

And my friend Ian said, "No,
you move into a different bed."

And I said, "Yes, Ian, but what if
that different bed,

"instead of some shit,

"has got Boris Johnson in it?"

And my friend Ian reluctantly
conceded that he would remain

in the original shatted bed.

Now, that joke initially appeared in
the Observer, as I said,

leading to a lively below-the-line
online debate amongst readers

as to whether the past participle of
shit was shatted or shitted.

Very much a key market for me,
those people.

The left-leaning, scatological
pedant community.

But the out-of-touch metropolitan
liberal elites,

they didn't see that Brexit vote
coming, did they?

The out-of-touch, metropolitan,
liberal elites.

Who are the metropolitan liberal

Well, according to Garry Bushell,
in the Daily Star,

if you're in my audience, it's you.

And never has that been less true
than it is here tonight,

in Southend-on-Sea...
LAUGHTER AND CHEERING a hive of racists.


Who are...

Who are the metropolitan
liberal elite?

The metropolitan liberal elite,
I think, are...

They're the sort of people who
preferred the Labour Party

in the '90s, when they looked like
a load of coke dealers

at an advertising agency... opposed to now,

when they look like Catweazle and
his army of furious tramps.

Fighting each other to the death
over the last bottle

of Diamond White... a burning skip in a Lidl
car park.

I live in London, in N16,
north London,

which is classic out-of-touch

metropolitan liberal elites'

N16, north London.

This is how out of touch the
metropolitan liberal elite are,

where I live, in north London.

The weekend before the vote, the
Brexit vote, a bloke I vaguely know,

he sent out a tweet and he said,

"Don't worry about the Brexit vote,"
he said.

"I've just been out for brunch in a
gastropub in Islington,

"and absolutely no-one there's
voting to leave."

So, in a way, they had it coming,
didn't they?

With their spiralisers...

Yeah, the courgettes taste the same,
don't they?

Whatever shape the...

That tells you a lot about the room,
doesn't it?

Look, down here, amongst the elite,
the spiraliser jokes,

they're going, "Ah-ha!"

And as we spread up there, friends
of the theatre,

"What is a spiraliser?"

And then right at the top,
some lone usher,

"What's a courgette?"

The joke...

The joke failing on three levels.

Three levels, simultaneously.

Only I can give you this,

triple simultaneous joke failure,


But, er, whatever your line of work,
whatever your politics,

you're going to be affected by the

I am a content provider in my job,
and I've spent the best part of

three decades now travelling
around the country,

providing stand-up comedy content
from a sort of centre-left,

liberal position. I've done very
well out of it,

I'm not going to lie.

But the problem I've got now is,

how do you write a one-size-fits-all
stand-up show to tour around

divided Brexit Britain? It is very
difficult. You know,

you might have a joke Tuesday night,
you're in Harrogate, Oxford,

Cambridge, Glasgow -
round of applause.

Next night, Lincoln - glassed
in the face.

By the Mayor!

So, I don't know what this show's
going to be when I finally

abandon it at the end of the month.

All I know is, whatever it
ends up being,

it will always open with the
following sentence...

So, my multiple British Comedy and
Bafta award-winning BBC Two series

got cancelled.

Presumably because it was

critically acclaimed, whilst also
being incredibly cheap to make.

Although I notice there is money at
the BBC for a proposed remake

of Are You Being Served?.

Educate, innovate, entertain.



The weird thing, I think,

about trying to remake Are You
Being Served? at the moment

is that the British retail industry
doesn't really exist any more,

does it?
The new Are You Being Served?

should be set in an Amazon
delivery warehouse.

Mrs Slocombe stands in a massive
shed off the M6...

..making incomprehensible cat-based
double entendres...

..about her own vagina... loads of poorly-paid
and soon-to-be-deported

Eastern European workers.


No, again, nothing from you on that?

It's a big...
A big news story, that, the, uh...

Actually, you know what?

That used to be... All last year,
that was a big laugh, that joke,

but it's sort of gone off the boil
since Christmas.

It's not really your fault.

It stopped working, that joke,
and I was, um...

I was trying to think why it was.
It was good.

All last year, it worked. What it
is, I think, is...

OK, if you think about how stand-up
works, right?

Basically, you either overstate a
perceived truth for comic effect

or you overstate a contrary position
for comic effect,

and all stand-up is basically those
two binary positions recombined.

Er... Yeah, that's ruined it for
everyone, hasn't it?

That's bankrupted Netflix.

But, um...

But... So, why that was working last
year was because the perception was,

wasn't it, that the Europeans
weren't being told they could stay

after Brexit, and that was a sort of
negotiating tool for Theresa May

in Brussels. So, I'd go...

"..soon-to-be-deported Eastern
European workers" and the audience

would go, "Ha-ha, yeah, that's true!
Ha-ha," like that.

But then...

The last gig I did before Christmas
was December 9th,

and I did that joke in London and it
sort of went off half-cocked,

like tonight. And I thought, well,
why is that?

There's normally some reason.

So, I went home and I googled it.

And what had happened that day, or
the day before - and I didn't know,

but the audience obviously did -
was that in Brussels,

Theresa May had said that Europeans
could remain after Brexit.

So, I went, "Soon-to-be-deported
Eastern European workers,"

and some people went "Ah-ha!", and
then other people with them went,

"No, she said they can stay now."

"Is that right, yeah?

"Oh, it's not funny, then."


That was the last gig
before Christmas.

The next one was January 2nd and
I thought, "Maybe I should cut

that line," but I didn't want to,
cos it gets me from the joke

about Amazon into another joke about
charity shops, right?

And it's just a smooth...

Erm... So I thought, I'll hold on
to it, see what happens, you know?

And then...

So, I did it again, January 2nd.

And it's a well-constructed joke,
as well.

I know that, cos it goes...

It goes, "Na na na na na na na na,
na na na na na...

"soon-to-be-deported Eastern
European workers."

Bang, like that. It's got a hard...

It ends on, or near, a hard

which is important, as well.


Bang, like that.

That's how you... If you look at
Frankie Boyle or Jimmy Carr,

all their jokes end on hard

Bang! And that sort of triggers the

With me, it's a little bit
different. I...

I don't always end on a hard

Sometimes, I'll put an extra beat in
after it.

And that's why a lot of you are
sitting there going,

"This guy's hilarious, but I don't
know why."

And it's because I'm, um...

The comics you go and see normally,
they're sort of in 4/4 time,

but I'm like... It's like a jazz
thing, really.

It could go...

I know where the beat is, but I'm...

It's probably too advanced, what I'm
talking about.

So it's, um...

I'm not saying it's better than
them, but it's...

WHISPERS: Yeah, it is.

Well, it's...

But, so...

Anyway, I did it again on
January 2nd,

Eastern European workers," bang!

And there was even less laughs than
three weeks previously.

So, I thought, "Well, what's going
on here?" So, I went and looked on

all the news. What had happened -
I didn't know -

was a few days after Theresa May had
said the Europeans could stay

after Brexit, somebody, a reporter,
said to David Davis,

the negotiator, they said to him,
"So, the Europeans can stay?"

And he went, "Well, we said that in
Brussels, but we can just change it,

"we don't have to abide by it."

So, I think what happened on the
night was, I went,

"Soon-to-be-deported Eastern
European workers,"

and somebody went,
"Ah, yeah," and other people went,

"No, Theresa May said
they could stay."


And then someone else went,
"No, David Davis has said it's..."

And in that moment, the laugh had
gone, really.

Because if you think about it...

..laughter's a very instinctive
thing, isn't it?

You just laugh. You don't sort of
canvass opinion about people

around you and then decide...

So, it doesn't work, that joke, but
what I'm saying is, it's not my...

It's not my fault.

It's because there's

We don't know what the Government
position is, so it's...

You can't write a joke in relation
to it when it's not clear...

Do you see what I'm saying? What I'm
saying is, there's not...

It's not my... There's not enough...

The problem is, at the moment,

there's not enough clarity in the
negotiating position

for that joke to work.

Do you know, I dread to think how
this is affecting people

in other lines of work, because...

You know, I mean, I'm...
I'm trying to...

I'm just trying to get a joke that
would get me from Amazon

to charity shops, and the lack of
clarity in the Brussels negotiations

means it's... You know,

what if you're trying to order staff
or supplies? It's just...

I'm not trying to make this all
about me.

I'm saying it's a bigger...

You know, whatever your politics,
you've got to admit it,

it's a difficult...

I mean, I don't know if there's
enough trained negotiators

in this country for vast swathes of
this show to ever be funny again,

to be honest.

But, anyway, what I'm saying is,
it's... It used to be a big...

..uh, laugh there, but the, the...

..the circumstances haven't so much
changed as they've just

become unclear, so it's very
difficult to know whether to cut it

or rewrite it, because you could
change it, couldn't you?

And then the next thing you know...


Who even goes shopping now?

Yeah, see, that feels weird now.

Cos that's... That's supposed to
come off the back of,

"Blah-blah-blah, Amazon - who even
goes shopping now?"

Who even goes shopping now?

Even the...

Ugh, come on!


Yes, we can hear one person clapping
on their own.

You know, that's the terrible thing,
I've got hearing...

I've got hearing aids now, the last
couple of years.

So, in the silence, I can hear one
man clapping,

and sort of encouraging,

"Go on!"

People up there,
the friends of the theatre,

I can hear them going, "He doesn't
seem to be able to do stand-up".

I can, I...

I'm very good at it!

I can do what you think stand-up is,
this is what you like, isn't it?

CHIRPILY: "Who even goes shopping

"Who goes shopping now?! Ooh!"

"I don't, do you? No, ooh!"

That's what you like, innit?

Who even goes shopping now?

You know...

Even the charity shops are doing
home deliveries, aren't they?

"No." They fuck...!

They fucking are! If I say...

"Who even goes shopping?

"Even the charity shops are doing

"They're not." "They are! So..."

They are!

So, if you ever fancy getting 100
copies of the last

Rufus Hound Live stand-up DVD...

..for a pound, 1p each, yeah, you
don't even have to leave the house.

Why? Because the charity shops are
doing home deliveries.

"They're not, mate, it's not
cost effective!"

They are!

They've got kids on bikes...

They've got drones doing it.

If you...


The charity shops are doing home

"They're not!" They are.

So, if you ever fancy getting 100
copies of the same Alan Carr Live

DVD for a pound...

"1p each?!" Yeah!

GASPING: You don't even have
to leave the house...

"Why?" The charity shops are doing

You know what?

Forget it. Forget the fuck...

I'm going to do this routine.

I'm on high blood pressure
medication. It's not...

It's not safe for me to perform this
routine with the level of commitment

the upper circle of Southend
appear to require!

I don't want to die doing this,

I wouldn't mind dying on stage
if it was like Tommy Cooper.

Do you remember that, older people?
Tommy Cooper,

when he died on stage at the London

And I'm not trying to take the piss.

It was an amazing thing
and a brilliant way to go out

for a comedian. 7,000 people in the
room all laughing, and he died,

and they thought it was a joke.

It was an amazing way to go out for
a comedian.

But I wouldn't want to die here in
this gig.

With him, clapping sycophant,

on Twitter afterwards, going,

"Uh, I've just seen Stewart Lee's
last gig."

"What was it like?" "It was a
struggle for him in many ways.

"It was a shame.

"It was a real... A lot of people
weren't into it.

"But, yeah, it wasn't...

" was not his best.

"He looked ill, actually.
He looked ill.

"He looked like he was struggling,
you know?"

We'll drop the charity shop routine,
we'll move onto the next bit.

There is no charity shop routine.

There is no charity shop routine,

Every night, I just pretend...

"It's the best bit as well,
what a shame! What a shame..."

Each night is exactly the same.

All the things happen,
they happen the same every night,

and somehow the sort of
cross-section of people that comes

to see me, whether I'm in Aberdeen
or Southend,

they seem to be the same.
They are self-replicating.

No place is any different to the
other, and the show goes

beat-for-beat the same every night,

and I don't know how long I can
carry on doing that.

Well, I mean, especially with
the state of you,

you're obviously in the worst
physical condition of your life.

Performing at this level with this
degree of enthusiasm...

It's going to kill you, isn't it?
It's going to kill me.

It's going to kill me.And this
will not be one of those memorable

Tommy Cooper...No.

..demises, in front of an audience
of loving, affectionate...

Yeah...happy, contented
laughing people.

Yeah.This will be in front
of your audience.

Well, the worst thing that could
possibly happen is on the verge

of dying on stage and getting
a Tommy-Cooper-like send-off,

I'll somehow manage to shuffle off
and expire in the wings,

which will have no comic or artistic
value whatsoever.

All I'm saying is this, right?

All those '90s and noughties TV
panel show, Live At The Apollo,

Netflix comedians, right? You can
get all their live DVDs,

second-hand, on the internet,
on Amazon, on eBay, for 1p each.

All of them,


But the cheapest that you can get...


Well, we'll see how funny it is,
won't we, madam?

When we hear...

When we hear how much it is.

The cheapest that you can get my
2004 live DVD for,

second-hand on the internet,
how much do you think it is, madam?

This is a quick little exchange,
really, that...

..speeds the evening along.


Have you seen this before? Have you
tried to fuck this up on purpose?

For God's sake, tonight of all

It's not �5, no.

You panicked, didn't you?

I could see...


It's �3.67.


Right, what's happened the other...

..208 nights of this tour -
it's �3.67, my DVD.

I go to the person there, I say,
"How much do you think it is?"

They go, "50p," or "�1," or "10p,"
or something,

which is less than �3.67.

And then I say, "�3.67."

And there's a kind of mock heroic
triumph in the room,

people going, "Yes! Aah!

"More than they said, yeah!"

But what's happened tonight,
you weren't to know, were you?

It's very kind of you to think that
it would be five...

What's your name, madam?

What is it?

No, don't shake your head,
you have a name!

What is it?

Annette.Annette, yeah.

Annette, very kindly, has...

..massively overestimated the...

She's gone �5, I've gone �3.67.

And where there's normally joy,

the people of Southend are already
struggling, look at them.

They've gone...

They've gone, "Ooh, that's awkward,
isn't it?

"Because it's less.
It's much less than he said."

So, that's ruined.


That's normally another bit where
there's a bit of a lift,

but all those bits tonight are
being sabotaged, so that's good.

But, um...

So, er...

This is...

I'll be really amazed if this makes
the edit, but if it does,

then that's the camera to get it on


It's �3.67, right?

Which is still... Yes, that's right,
cry and blow your nose.

It's still...

It's still 367 times more than
anybody else's

second-hand live DVD, right?

But that would have been...

You could have cheered a little bit
there, couldn't you?

And recovered from the damage that
your representative

has done to the evening.

But instead, Brexit-vague Southend
have sat there and thought,

"Let's make this bloke suffer
and then..."

It's 367 times more than anybody
else's, right?

Which is... You know what?

Don't patronise me, it's too late.


No, forget it!

The moment...

Right, you can clap!

You can clap and cheer as
sarcastically as you like, Southend!

But it doesn't change the fact
that I am the �3.67 king

of the obsolete physical media
market, right?

But there's a reason for that,
and it's this, OK?

I always sell DVDs and books
after the gig,

I probably won't bother tonight,
to be honest,

but I normally do.

And the cheapest that I can get the
2004 live DVD at source, new,

from the warehouse in Colchester
is �3.50, OK?

So, I have to put it on
for ten quid, right?

Because I have to give 10% to 25%
commission to the venue,

that's �2.50 off the ten,
15% to the promoters,

that's another �1.50 off the ten,
that's four gone.

Another 15% to the agent,
that's �1.50,

that's �5.50 gone off the ten.

�3.50 for the DVD in
the first place.

That's �9 gone off the ten.

This doesn't normally get laughs,

but I'm happy to take whatever comes

from the Southend Accountants'
Theatre Trip up there at the back!

"This is the bit I told you about.

"It's hilarious!

"Because presumably,
he's self-employed, schedule D,

"but he doesn't seem to have
realised that he could put the

"initial DVD purchase through as a
tax-deductible business..."

I do, right?

Why is this going better than
proper jokes?

Just... Right, I do know that!

But I put the...

I put it through at the end of each

not with the balance of each...

It doesn't make any difference,
as long as you...

Who are you?! Who's come to this?!

"Politics, words, we're not
interested in that.

"What we like is numbers being
added up!"

So, you've got a pound...

When I did this tonight, I thought,
"I hope it's a really unique night

"that we're filming,"

and it fucking is!


So, you've got �1 left, right?

That's taxed, isn't it?

Business rates... 22%, so you've got
78p left from the ten.

Then there's other costs -
transport, storage.

So, basically, a �3.50 DVD
sold for ten quid,

I'm normally looking at about 60p,
70p profit, right?

So, what I do, OK? I can never sleep
after gigs, right,

because of the crazed adrenaline
rush that is surge...

Come on, look at what you've seen me
dealing with!

I've got a woman here, right,
normally people go for 10p,

that works. She said �5, it's the
highest anyone's ever said

in 18 months.

But it didn't floor me, did it?

No. I've rolled with it.

I came, I went, "No."

It's not...

I did! You couldn't do this.

If you were to do this, you'd cry.

You couldn't do this. And that's why
I'm up here like a god, right?

And you're down there in the dark,
like pigs in an Essex ditch.

So, I'm awake, so what I do, I can't
sleep, I go on the internet,

I go on Amazon, I go on eBay,
drunk, right?

And first of all, I buy loads
of 1970s Turkish funk albums, right?

Yeah - Mogollar, Selda,
Erkin Koray - the usual names.

"Bunalim, Stew?" No, too metal.


What do you want?


"I love the adding up and the
Turkish funk stuff.

"Other than that..."

It's getting applause,
the Turkish funk stuff.

Yeah, I'm bang on the meme.


Does that exist, that phrase?
Have I invented it, what's going on?



When I've...

When I've bought all the Turkish
funk, right,

I start looking around for that 2004
live DVD, and if I see it anywhere

second-hand for less than �3.50 -

�3.40, �3.35 -

I buy it,

slip it in with the new ones...

I'm looking at an extra
10 or 15 pence profit.

I tell you what, tonight,
for that bit,

it's good to be out of London and be
in Essex, because in London,

the sort of people that live there
now, when I do that, they go,

"Huh, 15 pence?"
But all you lot, ex...

Expatriate Cockney market trading,
aren't you?

"15p? That's a good return on that!

"We've left London now."

I know why.

Sometimes you get lucky,

there's a company on the internet
called Music Magpie.

They had 20 copies of it for
�3.40 each, right?

And I bought them all, OK?

And the bloke at Music Magpie -
Rick, he's called -

he sent me a sarcastic note
with the order, he put,

"How sad", he put,

"How sad, buying your own DVDs
second-hand on the internet."

But it isn't sad, is it? Because I
made two quid on that, clear profit.

So my DVDs are �3.67,
that is 367 times, Annette,

more than any other
stand-up's second-hand DVD live.

But, to be fair,
there's a reason for that.

I'm like a corrupt banker, aren't I?

I've kind of manipulated the market
to drive up the perception

of my commodity in the marketplace,
you know?

To be fair to Jimmy Carr,
for example -

whose DVDs are all 1p second-hand
on the internet -

He's not awake, is he, at two
o'clock in the morning

buying his own DVDs
second-hand on Amazon

to resell off a trestle table
in Southend-on-Sea.

He's not doing that.

Imagine if he was? Imagine if Jimmy
Carr was on Amazon buying something

that he never paid the tax on what
he got paid

for doing it in the first place,

from a company that don't pay any
of their tax either.

Is it possible to imagine a more
tax-avoiding transaction

than Jimmy Carr buying a Jimmy Carr
DVD on Amazon?

Only if he found it using Google on
a Vodafone phone

whilst paying Gary Barlow to spit
cold Starbucks coffee

into his splayed anus...

..while the cast of Mrs Brown's Boys
stand around singing

I Still Haven't Found What
I'm Looking For.

There's not a single taxable
juncture in the entire transaction!

Now, if you've been
looking carefully,

you'll notice the whole of this set
tonight is actually made entirely

out of other stand-up comedian's
second-hand live DVDs.

I wasn't trying to make
fun of anyone,

what I wanted to do was get all the
DVDs and pile them up

and then hang hessian sacking over
them so they looked like

the rocks and cliffs in
that painting.

But I didn't do that idea
in the end,

but I don't want anyone to think I'm
trying to make fun of the other

comedians by making this set out
of their DVDs.

I'm not.

It's just that other comedians'
live DVDs are currently

the cheapest building material


Of course, what I hadn't factored in
is that it's actually quite

depressing to look at this
every night for a year.

You know, it is,
because I am a comedian, right?

And, you know, I got all of these
DVDs for 1p online,

or 50p in that CEX exchange place.

And of course, what is sad is,

there are actually lots of really
good ones here.

And it's very depressing... think of them just becoming a
sort of pile of worthless landfill.

No, but it is sad,

Well, this was a big deal,
wasn't it?

The Christmas comedy DVD market and
that's...that's over.

And everything's in collapse,
you know?

The Government are trying to close
down the BBC.

I don't know how that'll
affect comedy.

Actually, after the second series
I did for the BBC,

I got offered more money by Sky to
go and do two series for them.

But I didn't.

I didn't go to Sky and I stayed at
the BBC for less money.

And I've not talked about this
on stage before.

All right, I'll tell you why.

It's because I think if you make an
ethical choice about something,

it's a private matter and you
shouldn't go around crowing...

..crowing it from the rooftops
to try and engineer the perception

of yourself as some kind
of national cake-baking treasure.

Know what I mean?

But I started talking about it
on stage last year.

And in the summer, Sky's lawyers
sent me a very threatening

cease-and-desist letter saying

I wasn't to say Sky had
offered me more money than the BBC,

because they hadn't. And I went
through the paperwork, and I went,

"There's the offer, there's the
minutes of the meeting." So they...

They backed off. But that gives you
an indication of the extent to which

I'm a pariah in the comedy business,

that a broadcaster would take legal
action to deny

ever having wanted to work with me.

But there's all sorts of reasons not
to appear on Rupert Murdoch's

evil Sky and one of them, of course,

is that I know it's not really me
they want.

They don't want me. They want you
to watch Sky because I'm on it.

They want you, the ABC1,

reading sort of people,

to start watching Sky so
they can advertise

the sorts of things that you buy.

Like cappuccinos and spiralisers
and courgettes.

If you watch Sky at the moment,
all the advertising is for knives,

masking tape and bin bags.

You know, I wish I had gone to Sky,
for the money, right, but I can't.

Because if you are a sort of broadly
liberal comedian and you appear

on Rupert Murdoch's evil Sky,

my concern is you're going to lose
your core audience,

which tonight is about seven
people down there in Southend.

Alan Partridge,
the fictional character,

he can appear on Rupert Murdoch's
evil Sky because that is exactly the

kind of channel Alan Partridge would
appear on if he was real, isn't it?

You know, if you were watching
Sky News and Eamonn Holmes came on

and then Kay Burley and then
Alan Partridge you'd go,

"Ooh, Sky have raised the quality of
their journalism."

And I wish I could appear on Sky for
the money, I wish I could, right,

but I can't.

Because the character of Stewart Lee
that I've created...

..would have smug, liberal, moral
objections to appearing on Sky.

And I'm coming to hate the character
of Stewart Lee.

I'm coming to despise
the character of Stewart Lee

in the same way as
Rod Hull came to hate Emu.

I even hate this,
what I'm saying now.

Pretentious, meta-textual,
self-aware shit.

"What's wrong with proper jokes?"

That's what I say to me.

You know, Russell Howard's not
involved in an ongoing interrogation

of the divided self, is he?

No, he's going...

"We've all done it.

"You've run out of toilet roll,

"you use a sock."

His own clothing.

For excrement!

What is that? Observational comedy
from a Victorian mental hospital?

"We've all done it. You wake up,
don't you, about six in the morning?

" 'Get up!' Then about 11 o'clock,
the gentry come round, don't they,

"in their top hats, smashing you
in the face with canes,

"then in the afternoon, you're
chained to a bed and spat at.

"You try and escape.
We've all done it."

I'd go and see that.

All the young, 20-something
comedians, in their 20s.

They all complain to me about me
doing a joke about Russell Howard,

all the 20-somethings.

They go,

DRONING VOICE: "Aw, mate...




"Aw, mate!


"Aw, mate!


"A-A-Aw, ma-a-a-a-ate.

"Mate, no!


"Aw, mate, no! No!

"No, mate! Aw!

"Mate, no!

"Mate, what have you...?

"Aw, mate.

"What you having a go at
Russell Howard for, mate?

"Aw, mate.


"Hey, mate. Mate. Ma-a-a-ate.

"Mate, why you having
a go at Russell, mate?"

"Mate, what...?

"Mate, what you having a go at
Russell Howard for, mate?

"Mate, what you having a go at
Russell Howard for? Aaahhh!


"Mate, what you having a go at
Russell Howard for, mate?

"Mate. Mate.

"Mate, mate.

"Mate, what...?



"What you having a go at
Russell Howard for, mate?


"Mate? What you having...?

"What you having a go at
Russell Howard for, mate?

"Mate, what you having a go at
Russell Howard for, mate?

"What you having a go at

"What you having a go at
Russell Howard for, mate?"

They all stick up for him.

It's not even fair.

I did one joke about Russell Howard,
about ten years ago, and that's all.

One joke.

Admittedly, it was 58 minutes long.

It wasn't even about him.

It was about a press release about
him, which was stupid, right?

I liked him, to be honest.

I hate him now, though.

It's not even his fault,
it's my fault entirely, right?

And why I hate Russell Howard
is this, OK?

Now, this is...

Oh, right. OK, this is the
last sort of seven, eight-minute bit

of the first half. This...

This ends on a sentence that
normally gets such a big laugh

that I don't even have
to wrap up the show.

I just walk off while people are
still going, "Ha-ha-ha!"

That won't happen tonight,
and I think we know why.

It's because, God bless them, loads
of people have come along tonight.

They've thought,
"Oh, something's come to Southend,

"let's go and see it."

And this joke relies on people
having seen me before or knowing

something about me. I'd like to drop
this bit, to be honest, but I can't.

But it's, um...

It looks very relaxed, but actually
it's a very tightly structured show

and I can't drop this bit cos
there's stuff in it that sets up

things in the second half,
so I have to do it.

So we'll just get through it and
then we'll have a...

Right, OK. The reason I hate
Russell Howard is this, OK?

It's because my family, right,
they're very nice, OK?

But they don't... I love them, but
they don't read the sort of papers

where I get good reviews.

They don't know the sort of people
that would like me.

They're like a lot of the people
that have come tonight.

And, um...

If they ever see a bit of film of me
on YouTube or something like that,

they think it's so bad, right,
what I do,

that they can't believe I can
actually make a living out of this,

and in fact, they don't believe it.

So when they talk to me
about stand-up,

they talk to me about it in a sort
of sympathetic tone of voice.

As if they think I'm a
delusional mad man,

who imagines that
he's a stand-up comedian,

and if I was to find out
that I wasn't,

I would have a mental breakdown.

So they sort of ring me up
and they go, "Hello.

"And how is your
stand-up comedy going?"

"Cos that's your job, isn't it?

"And you do that, don't you, for
your work, in your actual life?"

I'm going, "Yeah, it's fine,
I'm just coming to the end

"of an 18-month tour, actually."

"I'm sure you are.

"Been going all round, haven't you,

"and people are all laughing and
no-one's walking out?"

The worst one is my brother-in-law,

He's a really nice bloke,
he's 57 and I really like him.

I'm very lucky to have him,
but we're different sort of people.

He's the kind of bloke who'll ring
me up and he'll go,

"Yeah, I saw you on TV last night
having a go at Farage.

"Quite badly misjudged, I thought."

But he's really great, and, erm...

No, he is! I really...
No, I do, I really like him.

But he came to see me once about
three years ago in London

and it was a proper, normal...

Right, this is
a five-star show, right?

I'm just letting you know.

This has had across-the-board,
five-star reviews, right?

So I'm just letting you know that
if there's a problem

in this room tonight, it's not on
this side of the stage,

that's all I'm saying, right?

OK? A five-star show, all right?

It doesn't feel like it tonight,
does it?

It feels like a four with occasional
lurches down towards a three,

but it is a five.

Anyway, my brother-in-law came to
see me in London, a proper,

normal, five-star night, not like
tonight, full of wilful obstruction,

and people wandering out.

It was a normal, five-star...

But he just didn't like it,
you know. And he, afterwards,

he looked so ashamed and embarrassed
he couldn't meet my eye.

I thought he was going to be sick
in the foyer.

But to be fair to him,
my brother-in-law,

he has no frame of reference
whatsoever for this, right?

Cos he's only ever seen one other
thing live in his whole life

and that was, in 1986, at Lancaster
Polytechnic, he saw Deacon Blue.

And I can see him, with his mate in
the room, he's going,

"What is this? It's nothing like
Deacon Blue, what is it?"

Anyway, he rings me up,

"Hello, how's your comedy?
That's your work, isn't it?"

I'm going, "Yeah, it's fine."

I said to him,
"You sound in a good mood."

He said, "I am in a good mood."

I said, "Why?"
And he said, "Well," he said,

"we've been very lucky," he said.

"We've managed to secure
two tickets, 18 months in advance,

"to the sold-out Royal Albert Hall
run of our favourite

"TV stand-up comedian of all time,
Russell Howard."

And I went, "Oh."

And he said, "You sound surprised."
And I went, "Well, I've just never

"met an adult, you know,
that was going to see Russell..."

It's for kids, isn't it? For kids.

And, erm...

But... And he said to me,
"Don't you think he's any good?"

I went, "Yeah, he's great,
you know."

And then he said to me,
in a sarcastic voice,

my own brother-in-law,
he said to me, "Yes," he said,

"not like you, then," he said,

"the most critically acclaimed
stand-up in Britain."

Well, that's where the
big laugh is, normally.

Nothing, was there?

Yeah, well, bit late for that.


OK, well... Right, why that normally
gets a laugh, right...?

I see... That is normally such
a big laugh I just...

People are going, "Ah-ha!" and I
just walk off. I go...

OK. Right, it doesn't matter.

It's nice, actually, that so many
people have come

that didn't really know me
and have...

OK, what it is, why that's...

OK, you don't know, right, but why
it's funny, right, he said to me,

"Of course, YOU'RE the most
critically acclaimed

"stand-up in Britain,"
like I'm not, but I AM, right?

So that's why...

And they know that.

That's why they're laughing while
the rest of you're going, "Well..."

No, I am, I am. I'm not...

No, that's why it normally...

Don't fucking shake your head at me,

It's not up for debate, right?

I'm the most critically acclaimed
stand-up in Britain this century,

so it's funny that your
own family member wouldn't...

Would not...

I'm not saying I'm the best, right?

I'm the most critically acclaimed,
I'm not saying I'm the best.

There's loads of stand-ups better
than me. I mean, there's...

There's Daniel Kitson...

Ah, there's loads.

No, I am, I know.
So people going...

I can see them, going,
"He can't be, can he? What?

"There's people walking out."

You've made this seem arrogant,

but it's actually a very humble joke
cos it's about how...

Right, I have got...I have got...

I've got two...? I've got three
British Comedy Awards, I think.

I might have two. I can't remember,
I've got so many. I've got...

I've got a Bafta. I've got... Olivier Award. None of these
people have got that,

have they, an Olivier Award?

I've got six Chortle Awards,
which is the industry...

So... It is!

I've got six consecutive ones
for Best Touring Show.

What d'you want me to do? I
can't... You know, this...

This isn't an end to a half, is it?

A man pleading the case for
his own...

..genius while people file out?

Christ's sake.
Let's sort this out, right?

Right, OK, I appreciate so many
people coming,

taking a punt on this,
not knowing what it is.

I know it's hard to get

all that sort of thing.
Let's sort this out.

Let's kick the second half
up to five, right?

We can fix this.

What I'm going to do... Don't go,
stop hanging around the doorway.

Give me two minutes, right?

I'm going to fix this. What I'm
going to do, just quickly, right,

I'm going to go over some of the
jokes that are coming up

in the second half...

No, because then they can ask people
about them and...

I can't afford to lose
any more of you.

Right, in the second half, right,
there's going to be...

This'll take a minute, right?

There's going to be two more jokes
about Deacon Blue,

the '80s Scottish...

Right, they're not hilarious jokes,
right, but what they are,

they're what we call "call-backs"

and they tie back to
the earlier mention of Deacon Blue

and they give the show the illusion
of structure, right?

Which is what raises us above
the apes, I think.

Or "visiting American stand-ups",
as I call them.

Oh, come on, you've seen them,
haven't you?

You're at the O2,
seeing the American stand-up.

It's 95 quid for their
42-minute club set

and you're sitting there watching
the American stand-up

and you're going...

"We don't have those cakes here,

"We don't have those cakes."

OK, all I'm saying, right, is,

I don't go to New York and do
two hours on Mr Kipling, do I?

You know, I'm not
in Madison Square Garden going,

"And there's like
a shortbread bit...

"Then there's jam on there...

"Then there's, like, a Bakewell...

"Is this on?"

So to get everyone in the mood,

I thought I'd play the first Deacon
Blue album, Raintown,

at half-time, right? And I found it,
second-hand, on the internet, 69p.

That's not very good, is it,

69p, no!

I could teach Deacon Blue a thing
or two about

online reputation management.

What I don't understand is,
there's six of them,

they should be on the internet in
shifts, driving that price up.

D'you know, if there were six of
me, my DVD would be about �5?


That's right.
You are right to clap.

So what you do there, you get a
problem, it's not a problem,

you store it away,
bring it back later on.

I know you're laughing, the people
up there, they're going,

"No-one could be that good.
She is a plant, that woman.

"He takes her round the whole
country and she shouts out, '�5.' "

You're not a plant,
are you, Annette? No.

Only four more shows left, anyway.

You don't know what's going on now,
do you?

So I ordered it off Music Magpie,
Deacon Blue's first album,

and the bloke, Rick, at
Music Magpie, he sent me an e-mail.

He said, "We're sorry to inform you
that Raintown by Deacon Blue,

"order 2032917358, has failed its
final quality inspection."

So I said, "Well, don't worry
if the case is damaged.

"I just need to play the music
at half-time."

And he said, "No, not its physical
quality inspection.

"Deacon Blue's mix of soulful
singer-songwriter sensibilities

"and plastic mid-'80s production
values has not aged well.

"But we notice from our files that
all your fans who buy your live DVDs

"from us then go on to buy 1970s
Turkish funk albums.

"So as a goodwill gesture, here's
some to play in your interval."

That's the interval now.


After what is,
by your own admission,

a very disappointing end to the
first half

on every single night of the tour,

which must be especially

But what do you
actually do during an intermission?

Do you cry, do you comfort eat,

Well, I go offstage and I sit in
the dressing room

and then I go online

and I look to see if anyone's said
anything about it on Twitter.

That's what I do every night.

And hopefully,
there's bad things on Twitter.

But then I go out in a
more depressed and angry mood,

which helps with the persona
for the second half.

So I basically contrive a character
by looking at things

that will confirm it.

I see that you're still clinging to
the notion

that the comedian Stewart Lee is
somehow an entity

that is separate from yourself.

How would you respond to people,
often close friends and associates,

who say that you are pretty much
like that all the time?

Well, it didn't use to be the case
and I think now what's happened is,

I toured this for 18 months

and I filmed this special at
the end of it,

and I spent so long pretending to be
the comedian Stewart Lee

that I think whoever Stewart Lee
was is gone now.

And I am the comedian Stewart Lee
and I'm aware of my own obsolescence

and this other Stewart Lee,
who had his own life and interests,

that's gone,
and I'm hoping I can find him again.

If the comedian Stewart Lee
is a character that you invented,

then wouldn't you have invented
a better one?

Right, in the first half I said,
didn't I,

I was trying to do two hours on the
idea of the individual

in a digitised, free-market economy.

I said I was going to base it around
this painting,

Caspar David Friedrich's 1818 German
romantic masterpiece

Wanderer Above A Sea Of Fog.

Then I said I couldn't do that
because I had to talk about Brexit.

Then I did talk about Brexit
for about 25 minutes.

Then I got back on to talking about
digital media, physical media.

So that was all right, that was the
first half, that was done.

Then, about 16 months ago, I started
writing the second half and that was

coming together all right, and then
America voted for Trump

and there seems...

OK, there seems to be an expectation
everywhere that I should

have written something about
Americans voting for Trump.

And I haven't written anything about
Trump because I'm trying to write

a show that I can keep on the road
for 18 months. And as I didn't know

how America voting for Trump was
going to pan out,

I didn't write anything about it in
case I couldn't keep it in the show

for the full length of the tour and
monetise the work I've done.

So I haven't written anything about
America voting for Trump

because I don't see the
point of committing

to a course of action for which

there is no logical or financial

Well, typically, it's going better
down here, isn't it?

Down here, the elite of Southend.

They're going, "How amusing, Lee...

"How amusing, Lee has used exactly
the same syntax

"at the start of both the first
and second halves

"with only two nouns
changed in order to drive home

"the notion that both the Trump
and Brexit victories

"are driven by the same
populist rhetoric. How clever."

People up there are going,

"How embarrassing,
he's done the same bit twice.

"He must be drunk.

"He's an alcoholic,
I saw it on Twitter."


You know,
because I've got a Trump bit,

I have to check at half time
every night

that he's not been assassinated

or fallen into a barrel of
porn actresses or something.

But it does mean that I see the same
crass, anti-American generalisations

online every night on social media,
and it annoys me, to be honest.

Because I don't know if you can make
massive generalisations about

Americans who voted for Trump.

Because Americans voted for Trump
for all sorts of different reasons.

And it wasn't just racists that
voted for Donald Trump...

Cunts did as well, didn't they?

Yeah. Stupid, fat American cunts.

The worst kind of cunts,
aren't they?

Much worse than our British cunts,
aren't they?

Salt of the Earth British cunts.

# British cunts!

# British Brexit-voting cunts
from Southend! #


That's you, innit?

But I don't know...

But I don't know if you can make
massive generalisations

about Americans that voted
for Trump, seriously.

I mean, not all Americans that voted
for Trump wanted to see America

immediately descend into being
an unaccountable,

single-party state exploiting
people's worst prejudices

to maintain power indefinitely.

Some Americans just wanted to be
allowed to wear

their Ku Klux Klan
outfits to church, didn't they?

Perked up, haven't you,
at half time?

Had a little chat, have you,
with the people that brought you?

"Do you think he's funny, John?"

"Oh, I do as well, then."

You make me sick.

It's very difficult, though,
nowadays, to write a joke

that everyone either understands
or finds funny,

you know, or relates to.

And it's partly because we live in
such fragmented times

in terms of how we consume
news information.

There's no dominant,
trusted news narrative.

No news source.

Everyone's going down their own
little digital wormholes.

And you'll be on some website and it
says, "Do you agree with this?

"Then click on this because it's the
same as what you already think."

And no-one...

No-one's got any overview,
have they?

And that's partly how a Trump
and a Brexit can happen.

It didn't used to be like that,
did it, Southend?

We used to be part of the collective
consciousness, didn't we?

In 1978, for example,

28 million British people watched
the same

Christmas Morecambe and Wise as it
was broadcast in real time.

Half the population. And this is
held up as a sort of apogee

of our collective experience.

But it doesn't really hold water,

because there was no competition
then, was there? There was no DVDs.

There was no internet.

And there was only
two other TV channels.

And on one of them was a
documentary about Burnham-on-Crouch.

And on the other was a drawing of
a clown sitting near a blackboard.

And that got 27 million viewers.

"Did it?" No.

But young people today are very
proud of the fact

that they don't interact with
conventional terrestrial media

at all, aren't they?

They go, "Mate, I don't even know
what it is, mate.

"Terrestrial media? I just
watch the internet Netflix

"cable download computer television.

"You know, I haven't even
got the thing that you...

"I haven't even got any eyes.


"I haven't even got any,
you know, senses

"to perceive any physical stimuli.

"I just have memes Bluetoothed
into my cortex.

"Have you not got the internet
Netflix cable Sky computer

"download television, Stew? Have you
not got that, mate? It's amazing.

"Some amazing things on
the internet Netflix cable Sky.

"I mean there's...

"There are,
there's some really good stuff.

"I mean, there's Game Of Thrones,
for example.

"Which is...

"Aw, have you not seen
Game Of Thrones, mate?

" not seen Game...?

"Have you not seen Game Of Thrones,

"It's not just about a gnome, Stew.

"It's a dwarf anyway, you're racist
against gnomes.

"This is a
completely different thing."

"Have you not seen Game Of Thrones?
It's not for kids, Stew.

"No. I mean, yeah, there's
magic in it, but it's not like,

"you know, Harry Potter or The
Faraway Tree or something like...

"You know, what is magic anyway?
That's what I say to you.

"I mean magic could be,
it's, like, kind of

"energy that we don't
understand yet, you know?"

It could be. I mean, think about
it. I mean, once upon a time,

you know, people would have run
away from Doritos, wouldn't they?

But people eat them now.

And they dip.

I don't. But, you know, some
people, I've seen people eating...

"Have you not seen Game Of Thrones?

"I don't know when it's set Stew,

"You know, it could be in the past,

"Could be in the future,
after Brexit.

"There's a big wall, cutting off the
north of the country.

"Everyone's in rags,
no-one's got any Toblerone.

"So it could be...

"Have you really
not seen Game Of Thrones, mate?

"I mean, it's not just about a
dragon flying around with a hat on.

"It's really... It's actually, Stew,

"Game Of Thrones is a really amazing
programme because, actually,

"it's very clever, Game Of Thrones.

"Because what it's actually about,
it's about history and, you know,

"philosophy and politics
and things like that."

Is it?

Game Of Thrones?

Peter Stringfellow's
Lord Of The Rings?


Bilbo Baggins at
the Spearmint Rhino?

I'm not going to watch
Game Of Thrones.

I can get the same experience
from sitting around

with a Terry Pratchett novel
in one hand

and a copy of Hustler's
Barely Legal in the other.

"It's not like that, mate,
if you actually watch Game..."

I haven't watched Game Of Thrones!

If I want to understand the ongoing
weft of history,

while simultaneously being mildly
sexually aroused,

I'll forcibly dress David Starkey
in Agent Provocateur underwear...

..and pay him to give a lap dance
to Simon Schama.

"It's not like that, mate, if you
actually watch Game Of..."

No, I haven't watched
Game Of Thrones.

And I shall never watch
Game Of Thrones.

I shall take no wife...

..hold no lands...

..father no children.

I shall wear no crown...

..and win no glory.

And I shall not watch
Game Of Thrones.

Do you like that, do you,
Game Of Thrones fans?

Do you know what? I don't even
fucking know what that is.

I copied that off the back
of a cup in HMV.

Right, OK?

No, I did.

And everything I need to know to
do an hour of stand-up

on Game Of Thrones,
I can get off a cup.

So, grow up,
you stupid Warhammer twat.

You're 45 years old!

"It's not like that,
have you actually watched..."

No, I haven't watched
Game Of Thrones!

If I want to understand the ongoing
collapse of ancient dynasties,

while simultaneously being
barely semi-tumescent... usual...

..I'll read Tolstoy's War And Peace
while sitting over the wheel arch

of a diesel-powered
double-decker bus.

First laughs from the
friends up there.

Some of the older supporters
of the theatre going, yeah,

"Remember the old days?
You could get on, couldn't you?

"You get on the bus in Billericay,

"and by the time..."

Hey, I've got a joke for you now,

It's a Game Of Thrones joke.

Hey, I tell you what,
you may laugh, madam -

if you were my daughter,
I'd still be bathing you.


Come on.

It was the 1970s,
it was a different time.

It was a time of innocence
and fun and laughter.

So, I've got a joke for you,
it's a Game Of Thrones joke.



You may laugh, sir - if you were
my son, I'd still be bathing you.

Different times, weren't they,
the '70s?

All the children were clean,
weren't they, in the '70s?

Weren't they?

Get in the bath, get out of the
bath, dry yourself off,

get back in the bath now!

Get in the bath!


NORMAL VOICE: There's people up
there going, "Oh, now it's picked

"A proper comedian's come on."

So, I've got a joke for you now.

You may laugh, sir - if you were
dead, I'd still be bathing you.

Different times,
weren't it, the '70s?

You could bathe the dead,
couldn't you?

"Is he dead?" "Yes, but he's clean."

"Nice and clean."


I've got a joke for you now,
it's a Game Of Thrones joke.

Eh! I tell you what, right,

there's so many naked young women

in that Game Of Thrones programme
that they have...

I'm just checking back there
for the old PC thought police.

Gary Lineker's liberal Stasi.

No offence, the metropolitan
liberal elite of Southend,

but how fucked are you when the main
champion of your liberal values

is Gary Lineker?

"My name is Gary Lineker.

"I like to wake up in the morning

"and send out a succession of tweets

"in support of broadly
progressive causes."

"Then, in the afternoon,

"I like to relax with
a great big bag of crisps."

Are you there, Gary? He's not
there tonight. Are you there?

Some nights,
he's there and we have a...

..we have a little chat,
don't... Hello?

But, no, Gary, I don't think...

Well, given how the first
half ended,

I don't think tonight is the sort of
night where the audience

will go with a
long, improvised dialogue

with an invisible,
offstage Gary Lineker.


I know, Gary, it worked very well in
Leicester, but that's your hometown.

And what began as a
regionally specific ad lib

has gradually depreciated in value
as we've gone further south.

I know.

So, he's not coming on tonight.

He's not there, anyway. He won't
come this far south, Gary Lineker.

He won't cross water.

In case his crisps get damp.

Anyway, I need to get on
with the joke now,

because the longer I talk
in this voice,

the more I realise I've not really
given it enough thought

to who this is supposed to be.

Just started off
as a throwaway thing.

Anyway, so, I've got a joke for you
now, it's a Game Of Thrones joke.

Eh, I tell you what, right,

there's so many naked young women

in that Game Of Thrones programme
that they have now,

it's hardly surprising what stunted
Tyrion Lannister's growth.

It were wanking,
ladies and gentlemen.

He's wanked hisself
into being a dwarf.


He was 6ft 6in in the pilot episode.

"Hang on a minute, mate,
wasn't that a sizeist joke?

"About the dwarf community?"

NORMAL VOICE: Yes, it was, but
I ridiculed the dwarf community in
order to satirize

the ongoing exploitation of women
in mainstream media,

so it cancels it out.

It's the kind of split-second,
collateral-damage decision

Frankie Boyle has to make every time
he opens his mouth.

"Oh, hang on a minute, mate,

"who's the sole arbiter of taste
in stand-up comedy?

"Who's the self-appointed moral
judge of right and wrong

"in stand-up comedy?"
It's me, I am!

It's been me for about 17 years now,

and there's nothing the
passive-aggressive indifference

of the people of Southend-on-Sea
can do about that. Not now.

But, hey,
the world's gone mad, hasn't it?

Do you know what?

I blame...

I blame young people.

By which I mean people under 40,

and I hope there is none in.

"I'm under 40.

"I'm disillusioned.

"I like Russell Brand,
I didn't vote.


"Oh, no, I've got no future now."

"Never mind, I've got this phone."

People under 40,
what a shower of shit are you?

Aren't you?!

This is you...

"I'm under 40.

"I like Poke Man Go."

"I'm under 40, and in the morning,
I don't eat bread for breakfast,

"like an adult, I suck drinking
yoghurt out of a pouch."


"I'm under 40, this is my food."

"I'm under 40, this is me on the bus
to work in the morning."

People under 40,
you like stupid fads, don't you?

A Japanese cat's face drawn
on a satchel,

that's what you like, isn't it?

"I've got to get up early
and get down the market." "Why?"

"The Japanese-cat-satchel-face
man's coming."

"You've got loads of satchels of a
Japanese cat's face on, mate."

"I know, but there might be...

Bondage sex and S&M
and the fetish thing,

that's the new thing,
isn't it, the under-40s?

Which they think they've invented.

Because they read about it in
50 Shades Of Grey,

or they saw it in a FKA twigs video.

I know who he is, actually, mate,
so you can fuck off.

This is exactly my problem,
actually, with the under-40s.

If you're 50, like me, and you make

some joke about popular culture,
people under 40 go,

"Ah-ha-ha, Grandad,
you don't know who FKA twigs is."

Well, I do know who he is,
FKA twigs.

They don't, do they,
the Southend theatre people?

FKA twigs, right...

He's not a twig, like you think.

"Is he a twig,
is he from the woods?"

FKA twigs, he's a...

He's a rap singer,
he's one of these...

He is, he's one of these rappers.

Well, he is, he's done loads of
tapes, I've got his tapes,

and he's...

He's got a video, FKA twigs,

where all sort of Japanese bondage
ropes go round him,

and he flies up in the air and he
has to try and...

Right, has anyone seen this?

Because I'm looking for
stuff to drop, to be honest.

No. I've seen it, I saw it on, er...


Not Top Of The Pops,
what is it they have now?

The internet, it was on that.

It's like Top Of The Pops,
isn't it, the internet?

Full of pop music
and sexual predators.

Yeah, see? See?

I can write jokes, I could
be on Mock The Week, easily.

This is Mock The Week, isn't it?

"The internet is a bit like..."

Fuck off, for God's sake,
what waste of everyone's...

Pathetic, innit?

"Oh, I've written a joke!"

Imagine writing jokes?
What a waste of time.

"Oh, this thing is like this,
only this is different."

For God's sake, pathetic.

People under f...

"I'm 37, I like bondage sex.

"I had a mask on
and some jam went on me."

Did it?

Do you remember proper bondage sex,
like we used to have?

In the '80s, in the '70s -

in the '50s,
friends of the theatre, remember?

Proper, you know,
degrading, you know...

If you weren't in hospital at the
end of it, you'd done it wrong.

And he had to do it again.
Not like now.

"I'm 34, I like bondage sex,
a feather went on my bum."

Did it?

Were you asphyxiated in
a career-ending accident?

No? Shut up then, drink
your fucking pouch of yoghurt,

get your fucking cat-face bag
and fuck off!

And that is my message to
the under-40s.


But, joking apart...

Yeah, I was joking.

I took an exaggerated position
for comic effect.

I've been doing it all night.

A little peep for you there,

behind the wizard's curtain.

# Behind the wizard's curtain

# With Stewart Lee

# He is going to show you all

# The secrets of comedy

# Well, what would you do if
a woman said �5

# When you were hoping
that she'd say 50p?

# Would you squirrel it away
at the back of your head

# And bring it back in
later on instead?

# Yeah!
Behind the wizard's curtain. #

Yeah, Behind The Wizard's Curtain.

It's a thing I'm working on
for Dave.

Hey, get this, right?

It was my idea and I wrote it,

but apparently it'd be better if
Greg Davies presented it.

Doesn't seem fair, does it?

Anyway, so...

On the subject of your constant

between your act and jazz,

I don't really recall Miles Davis

or any of the other jazz legends

actually ever having their trousers
fall down, or anything like that.

I mean, we are talking about
something very, very different.

Well, I understand what you mean,
but there's a similarity,

inasmuch as what the great jazz
musicians do

is they work in the moment with
things that take them by surprise.

One night in Bristol, my trousers
fell down, it took me by surprise,

but I worked with it. I suppose the
difference between me and

the jazz musicians is that they did
that once, they worked with it,

and they consigned it to the
bin of history.

What they don't do with their
moments of improvisation

improvisatory art of jazz and a man
pretending to improvise

the same thing, night after night,

for the best part of
a year-and-a-half.

But the thing is, at some point,

I did have the idea to do that in
the first place.

That was the jazz moment.

So you're more like a recording
of jazz than jazz itself?

Yeah, that's been taken around and
played to people

as a reminder of the fact that at
some point, the idea was original.

So I was talking about the S&M and
the fetish thing there, right.

It's an exaggerated example to
choose, but let's stay with it,

cos it dovetails into something
I wanted to talk about,

which is this, right?

I think any area of interest
people have, any hobby,

whether it's woodwork, sailing, you
know, er, collecting stamps -

or something mad, like the
fetish thing - whatever it is,

it's so much easier now to
find out about these things

and to meet like-minded people,
because of the internet -

much more so than it was,
say, even 25 years ago -

that I don't know if any of our
passions, if any of our hobbies,

our interests, will ever have the
same depth of meaning

that they had to
us a quarter of a century ago,

because you're not required to
put yourself out,

you're not required to commit
to anything, you know?

Let's take the fetish thing,
for a laugh, right?

Now, if you'd wanted to get into
that 25 years ago, you know,

you probably couldn't even have done
it in Southend.

You'd have had
to go to Burnham-on-Crouch, right?

You'd have to go to the very worst
part of Burnham-on-Crouch,

and it'd be in some underpass,
and there'd be some

horrible shop there with a bloke
behind the counter,

drinking amyl nitrate out
of an egg cup.

And he'd sell you some ticket to
some fetish event in London

in about two years' time, and you'd
go there, to The Clink or something.

You'd go, "Hello, where'd you get
that collar thing?

"Who are you? How do you do this?
When's the next meeting?"

And it would take you ages,
wouldn't it, to get into

any kind of subculture.
But when you finally did,

it would mean something, because
you'd committed to it, right?

But it's all changed now. One of you
could go home tonight, from here,

couldn't you, and think, "Oh,
I'd like to be in the fetish scene."

And you could go on Amazon, bop,
bop, bop, next-day delivery,

Taiwanese fist glove,
that's there tomorrow.

Midday, your partner goes,

"What's this?" You go,
"It's a Taiwanese fist glove."

"I didn't know you were into
all that." "I am." "Since when?"

"Last night, about half past ten,
I just decided."

But it wouldn't mean anything,
would it? It wouldn't mean anything.

You know, I used to collect records,
right? I started about 1979

and I spent the next two decades
wandering around

with a little list in my pocket,
looking for these things.

And then I started touring, '89,

and I'd go to these different towns,
Leeds, Birmingham, Glasgow,

I'd go in the record shops,
"Have you got this?"

"No, we'll ring the dealer."
And he'd come in,

and it would take you ten years,
sometimes, to find the thing

you were looking for. And when you
finally did, it was amazing.

Then, in 1997, I got online,
in an afternoon,

I found everything I'd been looking
for for 20 years, right?

And it didn't mean anything.

It did not mean anything, and it's
changed so much in our lifetime.

If you talk to your grandparents
or your great-grandparents

about trying to do bondage sex
and fetish stuff...

..and S&M...

You know, in the war, when there
was Hitler, Adolf Hitler.

Or in the '30s, when a lot of the
things they needed were very scarce,

very hard to come by,

it was harder for them to get
into all this stuff,

but I think it meant more to them.

Well, you snigger because
you are of a generation

where you cannot conceive, can you,
they cannot conceive

of not being able to instantly get
what they want.

And it is a tragedy, I think.

And I remember talking to
my gran about this,

and I remember her saying that,

in the '30s, you know, if she
wanted a deluxe latex sort of... a sex harness for bondage,

to be hung up from a
beam or something...

You know, it wasn't like now.

They couldn't just go
into Ann Summers.

You know, there was no Ann Summers.

They lived in Kidderminster.

People still live there now,
still live there now.

What they had to do in the '30s,
in rural Worcestershire,

if they wanted a sex harness, is...

Yeah, "ha-ha".

..they would have to walk.

They would. And they would walk and
walk and walk and walk,

miles and miles and miles,
all round rural Worcestershire,

all round Bromsgrove, Redditch,

Alvechurch, Inkberrow,

Rowney Green, erm, Bell End,

Fishponds, Upper Piddle,
Wyre Piddle,

all these sorts of places...

..just looking on the floor.

For old bits of string and twine

and sturdy weeds and vines.

And then they would knit
all these together,

and they would make their
own sex harness,

just out of old rubbish from
off the floor.

And do you know what a sex harness
made out of just all stuff off the

floor in Worcestershire in 1937...

That would have meant more to them
than probably any possession

any of you have ever had,

or any feeling that any of
you have ever had,

or any thought that any of you
have ever had,

because you live, don't you,

in a time that is of no value and
consequently you are of no value.

You are like an empty husk,

billowing across a desolate

bereft of all sense and meaning,
and you know it.

And I remember talking...

I remember talking to my grandad
about this sort of thing.

My grandad, and he said to me,
he said it was different."

He said to me, in the '30s,
in rural Worcestershire,

if he wanted a deluxe,
latex, zip-up gimp mask for sex,

a sex mask...

It wasn't like now, he couldn't just
go on Amazon and order a sex mask.

What they had to do in the '30s,
in rural Worcestershire,

if they wanted a sex mask,
is they would have to walk.

And they would walk and
walk and walk,

miles and miles and miles south
from Kidderminster,

down what is now the M5.

You've got the M5, haven't you?

The M40 coming in here,
the 42, Banbury way.

The 50, Ross on Wye, South Wales,

the M4 to Reading,


Course, back then,
it was a leafy lane.

But they'd get about halfway
down there,

where Droitwich, Junction 5, is now.

And they'd go off east,

not west, round the back of
Frog Pond, Bromsgrove...



Erm, Evesham.

Vale of Evesham.

Where all the vegetables come from.

And they would find the potato farm,

and Gran would distract the potato
farmer with rhetoric and dance.

And Grandad would creep in
the potato farm,

and when he's found hisself
a potato sack,

he'd empty all
the potatoes out of it

and then cut two eyeholes in it.

And that was his sex mask,
an old potato sack.

And he'd put it on,

and the hessian would gouge horrible
wounds into his crying face.

But that was their sex mask,
the potato sack.

And do you know what?
A potato-sack sex mask

from off the floor in rural
Worcestershire in 1937,

that would have meant more
to them than...

OK, what's the most treasured
possession you've got?

"Oh, Stew, it's a photo of our
daughter the moment she was born."

Is it?

Because that's meaningless,
isn't it?

Compared to a potato-sack
sex mask...

It is!

Because what did you do with that
image the moment you took it?

You sent it off, didn't you,
to 200 people in your address book,

100 of whom you don't really know,
50 of whom you actively despise,

and every time that image lands,

like a wet sock falling
into a urinal,

a layer of meaning
is shaved off it, isn't it?

Shave off the meaning!
Shave it all away!

Until you're left with a
Turin shroud, gossamer-thin,

tracing-paper imprint of this
supposedly profound moment

in your life that no longer
has any value,

because you've fucked all the
meaning out of it again!


And these are the old stories the
grandparents used to tell.

You're probably like me, Southend,

your grandparents probably used to
tell these old stories,

and you used to think, didn't you,
"I must write them down,

"or tape-record them
before they're all forgotten."

But we never do, do we?
I actually did.

In the 1970s, I tape-recorded
all these old stories

of my grandparents.

But in the '80s,
when my brother-in-law moved in,

he taped a Deacon Blue
album over them.

Right, that's the first one of them.

Well done. The second
and final Deacon Blue joke

is right up near
the end of the show,

but it isn't the actual
end of the show.

I do it, and then there's about
30 seconds more

until the actual end of the show.

So when you hear the second
Deacon Blue joke, don't go,

"Oh, it's finished now,"
and start getting your coat on

and wriggling around, just wait!

So I was talking there about the S&M
and the fetish scene,

and it's a mad, exaggerated example
to choose, but it's a good way,

I think, of looking at how our
access to information,

our access to different cultures,
has changed.

And our grandparents and our

did see incredible changes.

My grandad was still around at the
sort of start of the internet age,

and I remember him talking to me
about it.

You know, he said he couldn't
believe it.

And he did say to me once, he said
that in the '30s,

in rural Worcestershire, if he did
want to do S&M and fetish stuff...

Seriously, I'm not doing a joke now,

but he said it was
very different.

I mean, he said to me,

"We just couldn't find the
things, you know." He said to me,

for example, back then, if they
wanted to do that sort of thing,

you know, there was no Ann Summers
deluxe, strawberry-flavoured

sex lubricant gel,
there was nothing like that.

Well, there wasn't.

And all they had then, in the '30s,
in rural Worcestershire,

if they wanted to do that sort of
thing, was a big lump of dripping.

And this was kept, wasn't it,

the dripping on a marble slab
out the back,

in the pantry, to keep it cool
on the marble.


Yeah, on the marble slab. It's funny
to you, because you think,

"Oh, didn't they have a fridge?"

No, mate, they didn't have a fridge,

And, you know, maybe it was
Christmas, and Grandad was in

a good mood, and he'd go, "Come on,
Gran, let's have bondage sex."

Not his own gran, obviously,
he wasn't sick.

That's what he'd call his wife,
because he was in love with her.


They would get undressed there in
the freezing-black darkness

of the hovel they lived in,

shivering and crying in
the black dark,

the flea bites bleeding
all over them.

They would put their
potato-sack sex masks on.

And the hessian would gouge
horrible wounds into their faces.

Weeping sores.

And they'd be shivering and crying
in the black dark, and bleeding.

And all the while, trying
to maintain a state of arousal.

And doing it.

Because, unlike
your cosseted generation,

they believed in something,
they had values.

Not like now.

"I'm 33, I like bondage sex.

"Get under the duvet where
it's warm, and I'll harm you."

I've seen...

I've seen where they lived,

the wind howling through the cracks
in the stonework, the floor

just straw and mud and dung,
animal dung,

all the farm animals in there with
them - sheep, goats, ducks.

Some of the ducks were traumatised
by the things they saw.

They were laying square eggs
for years afterwards.

And then finally, Gran would go,
"Now it's time to go down

"in the cellar and get the coal
and light the fire

"to put the dripping in
the skillet to melt it down."

And Grandad would go down
in the cellar,

shivering and crying and
naked and bleeding

in the freezing-black dark,
digging up the coal.

The coal dust would billow up into
his potato-sack sex mask,

and he'd be coughing up huge,
toxic black globs

of poisonous black phlegm,

and bleeding and crying in the
frozen darkness,

until finally the fire was lit.

And then Gran would hold up
the dripping...

..and at this point, she would
always say the same thing to him,

and when we were kids and she was
telling us this story, we'd go,

"Come on, Gran,
say the dripping thing."

And she'd go, "No..." She'd have
a bit of fun with it, you know.

She'd go, "No, I can't remember it."

And we'd go, "Come on,
Gran, say the dripping thing."

"No, people don't want to
hear about that."

Christmas Day,
six kids round the table,

"Say it, Gran, say it,
say the dripping thing, come on!"

She'd hold up the dripping,

and she'd said to Grandad,
she'd say, "Now...

"'s the dripping.

"But remember,

"before we melt
this dripping down...

" well as being a lubricant
for your selfish pleasure...

"..this dripping
is also our dinner."

And they would have to make
a choice, a very stark choice,

a choice unlike any choice your
cosseted, spoiled, lazy,

facile generation will
ever have to make.

A choice between the pursuit of
selfish pleasure

and basic human sustenance
and survival.

I talked to my grandad years
later, he said,

if they did choose the pleasure
route, if they were careful,

they could normally scrape together
enough of the dripping...


So, it's an exaggerated story, that.

They didn't live in Kidderminster.

They lived in Malvern Link,

which is not as funny a name, is it?
So I've changed it.

Weird that, innit?

Why is one name funny and another
one's not funny?

What makes things funny?


..if we knew the answer to
that question...

..there'd be no need for this
whole charade, would there?

If you know what made things funny,

you could stay at home,
couldn't you?

Making yourselves laugh,

instead of having to pay a
professional to do it for you.

And the under-40s have my sympathy,

they've grown up thinking the values
of the free market are normal,

that everything's up for sale and
that we are all customers

in a set of transactions,
whose needs must be met.

And everything is up for sale,
isn't it?

The forests, national parks,
education, health.

You know, further education, for
example, wasn't supposed to be a

transaction which increased the
cash value of the customer

in the job market place.

Further education was supposed to be
an opportunity to participate,

ideally for no charge,

in a quest to enlarge
the global storehouse

of all human understanding...

..admittedly whilst drinking
heavily subsidised alcohol...

..and losing your virginity

in a tower block named after
Winnie Mandela.

But we're all customers now,
whose needs must be met.

And the best example of this
customer mentality, I think,

I saw on the guestbook of the
TripAdvisor holiday review website.

Now, I've got a ten-year-old boy
and he's a massive Doctor Who fan.

And his favourite Doctor Who thing
is not the multi-billion pound

Doctor Who World place
in Cardiff Bay.

It's a little museum in the cramped
two-room cellar of a little cottage

in the square of the Herefordshire
market town of Bromyard.

And this cellar is full of the
eccentric owner's mad collection

of Doctor Who props and costumes
and sets, all crammed in there.

It's called The Time Machine
Doctor Who Museum.

And all around Bromyard,
there's posters of the Tardis,

it says, The Time Machine
Doctor Who Museum,

and it is made abundantly clear that
The Time Machine Doctor Who Museum

is an entirely
Doctor Who-based museum.


There is a one-star review

of this Doctor Who museum
on TripAdvisor.

And it says...

"The Time Machine Doctor Who Museum
has very limited appeal,

"except for Doctor Who fans."

"We were in and out in 25 minutes,

"and that was after going
round twice."

They went round twice.
They went round once,

and they couldn't believe how little
non-Doctor Who content there was

in the Doctor Who Museum,
thought if they went round again,

they might see a diorama of the
life of Isambard Kingdom Brunel,

or an interactive display of the
mating cycle

of the Asian short-clawed otter.

It's a Doctor Who museum,
you can't complain

that there was too much Doctor Who
stuff in the Doctor Who museum.

It's not aimed at you,
not everything's aimed at you.

It reminds me
of an elderly relative who,

on having gone to see Andrew
Lloyd-Webber's musical Cats,

complained to me afterwards that she
hadn't been expecting it all

to be just about cats.

And a person under 40 came up to me
after a gig and he said to me,

"I didn't really enjoy that,
to be honest, mate."

And I said, "I don't know what you
expect me to do about it.

"You just paid to see me,

"and I AM me."

But we've turned away,

it would seem to me,

from the wider world.

Everyone's looking inwards, back
through their own boundaries,

back through their own borders.

And you have to pay
for everything now

and nothing comes for free,

except the last U2 album.

Whether you wanted it or not,
you know, like a Trojan virus.

And I don't really know what I'm
supposed to say to any of you now,

because you all live in a

reflecting hall of digital mirrors,

made of Facebooks and Twitters and
Snapchats and Instagrams

and Deliveroos
and selfies and Whassaps...

You're the kind of people who are
run over by a bus because

you were crossing the road whilst
looking at a bus timetable app.

And they say you shouldn't keep
dolphins in concrete tanks,

because the endless sound of their
own sonar bouncing back at them

eventually drives them mad,

like someone locked
in an aluminium-lined cell,

listening to an endless loop of
every ill-considered 2am tweet

they ever sent out. And that is you,
you are the mental dolphins of now.

Inward looking, self-obsessed people
with no attention span,

hurling yourselves fatally out of
your tanks

in the self-inflicted wounds

of your imagined democratic choices.

And it's no surprise to me that
you've all gone mad,

because you've all got phones on you
all the time, haven't you?

With cameras, and you all take
photos all the time, don't you,

of your face, over and over again.

Your face. Your face. Your face.
Your face. Why?

Surely you all know what your
own faces look like now?

And your entire online digital

is just an endless succession
of images of your face

obscuring an endless succession
of things that are all

more interesting than your face.

Here's me at Stonehenge.

Here's me at the Taj Mahal.

Here's me at the
Deacon Blue reunion concert.


And I don't know what I'm supposed
to say to you,

or what anyone is supposed
to say to anyone.

Because nothing that anyone could
ever have to say

could possibly be as
interesting as the ongoing,

moment-by-moment documentation of
your entire lives.

And so, when I look
at this painting...


Caspar David Friedrich's

1818 German romantic masterpiece,

Wanderer Above A Sea Of Fog,

I see a man like me,
200 years ago now,

looking out into the world
and trying to make sense of it,

and his place in it, instead of just
using it as a backdrop

for his own narcissism.

But this, this is you now...


Do you think that it could be said

you are projecting your
own narcissism

onto the entire rest of
modern culture?

Yeah, I mean, they could say that,

and I was worried that someone
would think that,

because it's arguably true.

But I don't give them time to make
that conclusion,

because as soon as the blackout's
had just a second to register,

I fling the lights up, play really
loud music, and run away.

That's very courageous of you,