Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle Series 3 | DVD review by Steve Bennett

Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle Series 3

DVD review by Steve Bennett

Stewart Lee continues on cracking form with his third series of six contrary, tricksy and super-smart stand-up sets.

As the house comedian of the metropolitan liberal elite, he puts in his sights such subjects as inequitable wealth distribution and the mentality underlying UKIP's rise ('If you say you're English these days you get arrested and thrown in jail,' apparently.) He makes good points expertly well, with some superbly florid language and beautifully evocative imagery – especially in the episode on satire.

A rewarding extra layer on to comes courtesy of Lee's supreme awareness of his own place, taking umbrage at Lee Mack's perceived description of him as a 'cultural bully from the Oxbridge mafia' but tacitly acknowledging it might be true. After one well-received gag he comments: 'That's the sound of the middle classes applauding their own guilt.' For although he appeals to the Guardian-reading demographic he mocks them, and himself, with the same incisive accuaracy as his other targets.

This analysis comes into its own with the excellent companion disc – which is worth the purchase price on its own if you're a Lee fan. It contains two and a quarter hours of him being interviewed by Chris Morris, only a tiny fraction of which made it into the BBC Two broadcasts.

It's funny and illuminating, sometimes spiky and often tongue-in-cheek. Lee agrees with Morris's assertion that the series only got recommissioned because some idiot at the BBC was impressed with the shiny trinkets won at the Baftas and British comedy awards, while being feted does not sit well with Lee's grumpy outsider persona. 'I've lost my way,' he laments. 'I don't know who I'm supposed to be any more.'

There's agreement, too, with the sociologist Laurie Taylor, who dismissed Lee's comedy as not begin about laugher, but a feeling of smug superiority. He confesses to reluctant including some Broad Comedy elements in the episodes to counter that charge.

Extras also include an interview with Canadian comedian Baconface, which is perhaps a joke that's run its course, but heaven forbid that Stewart Lee keeps doing something repetitively whether or not his audience are buying into it or not….

• Also out now is the second series of the Stewart Lee-curated Alternative Comedy Experience. With 13 episodes, it boasts almost five-and-a-half hours of the best of the stand-up circuit that gets ignored by the shiny-floor shows on mainstream telly. Acts include Tony Law, Isy Suttie David Kay Simon Munnery Maeve Higgins Josie Long, David O Doherty, Paul Foot, Bridget Christie, Henning Wehn, Kevin Eldon, Michael Legge, Ginger and Black, Nish Kumar, Liam Mullone, Grainne Maguire and John Hegley. Phew! Buy

Review date: 19 Nov 2014
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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