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'The material is cooking with gas'

'The material is cooking with gas'

Stewart Lee on the return of Comedy Vehicle

I just found out that transmission of the 3rd series of the Bafta, multiple British Comedy Award and Chortle award winning Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle has been scheduled to begin a week on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 10.15 pm, though the exact broadcast time is liable to alter over the series, while probably remaining on Saturday nights.

It’s almost too late do any press, promotion on publicity for the series now, and many of the newspaper supplements that might have been expected to give favoyrable plugs to next week’s first episode in their listing sections this weekend will have been put to bed now, but perhaps this piece will go viral on your Twitter.

That said, I am very grateful for the opportunity from BBC Two to have made the series, which I’m really pleased with, and I am not especially unhappy about the sudden scheduling decision for four reasons.

1)     I hate doing press anyway, and it’s literally not going to be possible to do much, so everyone wins.

2)     The alternative was that the series go out in late May/June, by which time some of the routines in it would have been begun over 17 months ago like, for example, the one that examines politics from the springboard of the death of Margaret Thatcher (anyone remember that?), the one based around football’s anxiety over the ‘n’ word (since eclipsed by that French bloke’s half Nazi-salute), and the one that looks at the soft right’s panic over fears of a Bulgarian mass influx (which has already been conveniently forgotten).

Also, broadsheet journalists that have been in the live shows are already assimilating my moves for their funny opinion columns, so best get it out now before the ideas in it become thoroughly diffuse.

3)     Series 3 and 4 were commissioned together, so viewing figures for series 3 aren’t a factor in series 4 returning. Surely the impossibility of promoting the series has to be taken into consideration if the viewing figures recede?

4)     There’s an obvious logical problem with maintaining my persona of a man who, irrespective of his obvious privilege, seems unreasonably grumpy with the world, especially in the light of the near blanket critical acclaim lavished upon series 2.

We struggled to accommodate this. How would it make sense for me to maintain a grudge against comedy and all media when its machinery - The Baftas, The British Comedy Awards, Steve Wright In The Afternoon etc  - had welcomed me into their bosoms? The fact that series 3 is creeping out unheralded at least takes some of the curse off this problem. SLCV3 will, inevitably, remain something the unwary viewer discovers for themselves, and has a sense of personal ownership about.

For those who want to know, the format remains:
25-ish minutes of stand up
2 or 3 minutes of a film item at the end
Interruptions in the form of interviews with a hostile interrogator.

For me, the material is cooking with gas. And there was lots of fun real interacting with actual unpredictable live events in the room, which was, once more, the Mildmay Club, Stoke Newington.

Richard Webb produced it, Tim Kirkby directed it, Chris Morris interviewed me, Kevin Eldon is a fish, Paul Putner is a dog, and I wrote all three hours of it except a joke about pants by Bridget Christie, four names of beers based on progressive rock bands which were written by  Paul Allen of The Heads and Carlton B Morgan, and a line about a servant by Richard Webb.

Peace! I’m outta here. You shoulda killed me last year!

Posted: 19 Feb 2014

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