Comedian and columnist Stewart Lee remains “grateful to the people who brainwashed me into listening to Bob Dylan during a period of emotional and physical weakness.” He remembers seeing Dylan live at Hyde Park with his kids (“one of the greatest nights of my life”) as well as the time he alienated the audience at a Teenage Cancer Trust Benefit. “It was a good gig. 'Cause it was true. Self-sabotage keeps you alive. Chaos and confusion create a bubble that protects you.” Stew namechecks Dylan, Mark E. Smith, Jerry Sadowitz, William Blake, Roky Erickson and Mozart as fellow artists who “develop a split personality that says: what if I make him do this?” Warning: listeners should keep in mind that Mr Lee is “a cultural bully from the Oxbridge Mafia who wants to appear morally superior but couldn’t cut the mustard on a panel game.” (Lee Mack)
This is a review (Dominic Maxwell, The Times) of Stewart’s current show, Basic Lee: "If someone says they’re going back to basics, can they be trusted? When Stewart Lee tells you he is going back to basics you sniff only fresh mischief in his chortlingly bold smush of sarcasm, satire, self-commentary and alternately lugubrious and exultant flights of fancy. It is hard, Lee tells us, to try to be funny in these days of frenetic social and political change. So he bookends this new show, which he wants to stay relevant until its tour ends in 2024, with a reworking of a routine he first performed at the start of his career in 1989. Self-plagiarism? Actually, Lee could profitably spend the rest of his career rejigging old routines, much as Miles Davis was able to find endless new takes on Stella by Starlight. At his best, as he delivers a comedy show that is a kind of lecture about comedy shows, he cheeks the crowd so surely that the effect is insulting yet intimate. Basic Lee is one of his more pretzel-shaped evenings. If its inner logic isn’t always easy to grasp, who cares when something is rendered with this much wit and verve? What’s it all about? It’s all about two hours long, it’s all very clever, but, basically, Basic Lee is very funny."
"What would it be like if Bob Dylan from the 60's took a look a stand-up comedy today?"
The Dream Syndicate's cover of Blind Willie McTell (1988)
Steve Wynn, Murder Most Foul (2020)
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Recorded 16th November 2022
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