Stewart Lee Selects His Favourite 13 Albums
, May 25th, 2011 10:15
Comedian Stewart Lee talks to Simon Jablonski about his thirteen albums of all time, including The Fall (obviously), Ted Chippington, Guided By Voices, REM (who are a disappointment) and why Miles Davis and jazz are like stand-up
'What's your name?' The voice that appears behind my left shoulder is instantly recognisable. For the last two decades Stewart Lee's own brand of thoughtfully provoking comedy has acted as a kind of continuous cross-generational anthem for contemplative rebels, bookish pedants and anyone who enjoys seeing the stupid, absurd and anything pertaining to Jeremy Clarkson put firmly in its place. Using the form of stand-up comedy, Stewart Lee manages to deconstruct comedy itself, confronting the limits of acceptability while at the same time challenging the idea that pushing values is even an acceptable practice – his piece on political correctness gone mad epitomises this brilliantly.
'Have we met before?'
'No, I don't think so. I used to live round here, perhaps that's it.'
'Probably. I'm getting a coffee… Do you want to go to the cemetery?'
It soon becomes obvious that the friendly gentleman in the faded red hoodie bares only a slight similarity to Stewart Lee the stage character, who he's carefully nurtured from dry, cocky student smart arse through to the acerbic dissident of the late 90s all the way to the disillusioned comedy master that currently resides at BBC2 dressed like a nonchalant wedding guest.
Given his reserved stage persona – barring the odd stifled chortle during his live shows – Lee's most instantly prominent trait is how often he laughs. And not wry chuckles, large wheezing leg slaps that end in choking fits are a common occurrence.
The main similarity between character and artist is a sense that they're both incredibly fed up. With a dark smile he strolls down the street soliloquising on who would benefit from his contracting a terminal illness and eventually dying – the list included Richard Herring, his entire family and The Quietus.
Lee has long been a vocal music fan, indeed he moonlights as a music journalist for the Sunday Times, and is one of the most well-known and loyal famous fans of The Fall. His Baker's Dozen selection, then, is a fascinating insight into the musical obsessions of a great living Englishman. Click the picture below to begin the countdown.