Stewart Lee Press

STEWART LEE ON MARK RADCLIFFE - Tuesday 30th July 1996

Stewart Lee was a guest on Mark Radcliffe's radio show on Tuesday 30th July 1996 and this is what he had to say for himself.

STEW - It's really good fun at the moment. Because we've had quite a year and we've known each other ten years now, but we actually had a fight while we were working about a month ago.
MARK - Was that your first one?
STEW - Our first fist fight. Well, it got really scrappy, you know? Like kids fighting. You don't really hit anyone, you just kinda grab people's sleeve and fall over. Then somebody came in from the office across the road and went "What's going on? Break it up!" and the whole deal. But it was quite good, because we cleared the air a bit.
MARK - What started it?
STEW - Well, I was trying to write this piece up on the computer and I didn't know how to use the delete facility and he was coming over, explaining it in a really patronising way and I went "Look, I don't want to know." Then he kicked my chair, so I hit him and it all went from there. But, actually it was very grown-up. It was like The Rolling Stones or something, I like to think. It was the kind of thing they'd do. Fight about how to use the word processor.
MARK - Apparently, the last time Mick and Keith had a fight it was because Keith got to back-stage catering and there was no Shepherd's Pie left and he has to have his pie, before he goes on.
STEW - Well, that's the same kind of thing, it's very similar. Anyway, we've been using that tension in the act, rather like Mick and Keith did in some of those videos. You can see there is a tension. There's a bit in it now where I nearly make Rich cry on a good night. So it's all very amicable with us. A genuine exciting tension there for the audience to watch. So that's going well. We're both doing plays. I'm in a play in Edinburgh called 'Oblimov' that a bloke called Steven Sharkey who used to do The Traverse in Edinburgh has written. In one scene I'm playing a character called Stew, who is an arrogant, minor TV celebrity who comes in and is patronising and rude to his friends and then goes out again.
MARK - Was this written for you?
STEW - Yeah, I found it quite offensive when I did it, to be fair. And also Rich has written a play, called 'Punk's not dead'. He's changed, he's become very vain and arrogant playwrite style man. In which there is a character called Rob, played by Paul Reynolds from 'Press Gang' and 'Let Him Have It', which is also clearly based on me. Who's also a bit of an arse. I was sitting there watching it and, he's supposed to be the villian of the piece, and I'm thinking 'he's a good bloke, he's got some sound opinions. He's funny and I agree with most of what he's saying.' And then at the end, he's supposed to be the bad guy. It's a bit strange, a bit weird seeing a repesentation of yourself in something.
MARK - So is that the way it works inside your double act? Is he generally nice and you're a bit of a surly get?
STEW - That's the way we choose to play it up. The listeners won't know this, but off-air Mark and Lard are utterly different in every way to how they sound when the mikes go up. They just slip into these crazy outlandish characters.
LARD - Well, we're both surly gets.
MARK - We never have fist fights do we, because you're built like a brick shithouse and I'm a bit scared.
STEW - It's weird when you do stuff and you know where it's come from. Like, Lisa [Germano -another guest on the show] you must get people annoyed if you write a song called 'Beautiful Schizophrenic' and someone knows that its about them.
LISA - I get some pretty weird stuff going on.
STEW - People go, "Is that supposed to be me?"
MARK - So, when does all this kick off in Edinburgh?
STEW - Well, I'm going up on friday, because I'm going via Rich's Dad's Sixtieth birthday party. Where I hope to start a fight, with his Dad. Forget him, he's trying to get his Dad on me and it'll get out of hand. Then I'm going up Wednesday, the plays open on Wednesday and then we start doing the double act show in about two weeks tomorrow, but do come! Because it's brilliant and it's the first one we've ever really enjoyed. I've always felt it's a bit of a compromise before, but now it's great what with the fighting and crying and stuff. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
MARK - Those shows up in Edinburgh? So is that something that you enjoy anymore, or is it a bit of a meatrack for comedians? Waiting for TV producers to come along?
STEW - Well, we never did that. Me and Rich have gone up for like ten years now. It's the tenth year we've gone. We never thought we were going to get spotted or anything, that was why we always do these strange shows that don't work. But that's always the point of it really.
LISA - Explain yourself.
STEW - Well, you have to follow your heart. But last year was great because last year was the first year I didn't lose thousands of pounds. So that was brilliant.
MARK - That's one thing people don't know. They assume, because you're doing a show every night and it sells out because there are loads of people going to ten shows a day. They assume you come away with a suitcase full of money.
STEW - No. Quite the opposite. You usually lose it. But last year was good, it actually broke even last year and then made a bit. That was good. There's this guy, a really good quote from Dylan Moran, who's one of the young generation of brillaint Irish comedians who's coming over here, taking all the work and stealing our women and must be stopped. He said "Edinburgh is a horrible place every summer, full of backstabbing snide people running around in a paranoid sea of fear, but there are some nice bars." and you couldn't put it better than that really. It's a really good summing up of what's it like. So I'm going up again and I usually live with the outrageous adult comedienne, Jenny Eclair, who becomes my sort of surrogate mother for the month. Which is a fascinating experience if you can imagine that, though I'm hoping to go into care this year to escape. It's a really good thing to do every year, because as a comedian you spend all your time working with other comedians. But up there you can find time to go and see dance, and performance art and plays that you wouldn't normally see and then you can nick all their best ideas and they don't know.
LISA - Now they know.
STEW - They won't be listening. They'll be in the Groucho Club. There's a real good knock-on from that, because in September I'm doing a pilot for Channel 4.
MARK - What's Channel 4?
STEW - I'm not allowed to mention. The pilot is this thing called 'Cluub Zarathustra' which I'm doing with Simon Munnery who normally does 'Alan Parker'. It's a kind of Dada-ist cabaret thing which we're trying to do, to push back the boundaries of comedy. Mainly the boundaries at the very bottom, admittedly. So we're doing that in September which should be good.
MARK - And what about Fist of Fun? Is that coming back?
STEW - Well, we're doing a big tour in two months and we had a meeting yesterday with the BBC with the producer about what they want us to do. Uh, I don't know if I should be discussing it, but I will anyway. Because none of them are listening. If they were you wouldn't be able to put a show together like this. Because I mean it's really good. I'm not trying to be sarcastic, I'm saying if they were listening...oh no.
LISA - If they are, you have no job after tonight.
MARK - Let me give you a shovel and you can dig a bigger hole.
STEW - They want us to do a third series, but they want us to change things, but I don't want to change things. So we'll have to see what happens. So write a letter campaign in kids! Write to them saying, "Don't change it, leave it as it is." They seem to want us to be popular and they don't realise how easy that is.
LARD - Yeah, that's so easy.
STEW - What is difficult is to be unpopular. Anyone could be popular.
MARK - It's a doddle. Your last album went, what quadruple platinum?
LISA - At least.
STEW - So, we're doing that, I dunno about another radio series we'll see what happens. Hopefully we'll do one, but they're repeating us at the moment which we didn't know anything about, on Wednesday nights. Which is all, like, re-edits of our stuff. I had loads of people coming up to me at the Phoenix Festival going "What's happened to your show? What's that music you're playing? We usually like the music on it." They're using the Mission: Impossible theme as a theme on the show, which seems like a naff thing to do at the moment. But don't turn off in protest between nine and ten tomorrow! Do tune in by all means.
MARK - Stewart Lee, a bit grumpy.
STEW - I'm walking a fine line between being grumpy and...
LARD - No, you're walking a fine line between being on the dole and being employed.
STEW - I like that, it makes me exciting. For me, admittedly, not for anyone else.

Source - The Curmudgeonly Lee & Herring Pages