He didn’t mention zombies once, which was disappointing as it makes this blog post really difficult to justify. But he did employ plenty of extreme metaphors (his grandparents' BDSM sex life, for example) and he threatened the audience with a mic stand in quite a scary way.
A running theme through the show was the echo chambers we all live in, which have been reinforced by the digital age. Lee jars the audience into realising this applies as much to us – the infamous liberal metropolitan elite - as to Brexit and Trump voters.
I was reminded about the process that I am experiencing now as I emerge, mid-life, with a new identity as an indie horror author.
One of Lee's best gags for me was about how his family still don't believe he's a successful stand-up comedian. That was a real takeaway for me - even if I sell books my family's current disbelief at what I'm doing will never dissipate either.
And there's nobody around me who loves horror. Friends and family who read The Splits have, therefore, had a jarring experience. Some are shocked that I can dream up such stuff. It’s just extreme metaphors, I say, but this doesn’t seem to reassure them.
Am I asking horror fans to move out of their echo chambers? The Splits does, after all, encompass other genres – political satire, science fiction, meditation on motherhood, and psychological thriller. I don’t think so, because horror fans are so up for being jarred to begin with.
Other than that there’s no purpose to this blog post, except to say Stewart Lee is completely brilliant. I know it’s de rigeur to say he looked fat and depressed and fat, and indeed he did. But he’s also one of those great philosopher-comedians, like Louis CK used to be. How else are we going to stop and think about what is a good life in this mad digital age?
Stew talks zombies