It’s fair to say that Stewart Lee polarises opinion.
To some, the writer and comedian is ‘a true artist of comedy’.
To Jan Moir of The Daily Mail he is ‘a slime-pit of bitterness’.
But it has to be said that the mixed stew of ideas that he brought to the Crucible for two sell-out nights in preparation fora third BBC TV series achieved his aims of making you think and laugh in equal measure.
Exploring ideas from the internet and imagination, parental alcoholism, urban foxes, vasectomies, to Throne of Blood and ‘the rest of the oeuvre of Kurosawa’, The Big Bang and UKIP he plays on the insecurities of the liberal-thinking ‘Ocado generation’.
“You’re laughing at your guilt over self-selective education,” he tells the audience.
But beneath the thin veneer of intellectual superiority lurk Lee’s own demons.
The ‘45-year-old vasectomised, functioning alcoholic father-of-two’ says that he gets most of his material from cab drivers, because they are the only adults he mixes with these days.
After a two-hour invitation to begin the backlash before transmission of his series in the spring, he bounds up the stairs into the night, possibly in search of new material from the cabbie taking him back to his hotel.