Susan Welsh talks hearing aids, Jeremy Clarkson and knackered knees with comedian Stewart Lee in the run-up to his forthcoming tour date in Inverness
WHAT IS THE IDEA OF THE ROOM WITH A STEW TOUR?
There’s a fourth series of Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle in the spring of 2016, so I am trying to work out six half-hours of new material, which I will be working out on this tour. Most stand-up comedians on television use teams of writers now like in the 1970s, although they don’t admit to it, but that doesn’t really work for me because I don’t really do jokes and line. It’s more about mood and attitude so you can’t just buy in things wholesale from the anonymous humour content providers that all the others use.
It is quite hard to generate that amount of material, even if you talk as slowly as I do, and repeat yourself all the time, and use pauses. The tour is billed as work in progress towards the TV series, and prices are pegged a bit lower than the other TV stand-ups wherever the theatres will allow. Hopefully, as it continues, I’ll have about three hours of material on the go, although I won’t perform all of it every night!
WILL TOURING HELP YOU TO GENERATE MATERIAL?
I’m really excited about going on the road this year. I like sitting in the van and having music on in the day, even though I miss the kids. But I can’t remember a time in my life when the country has seemed so fragmented in terms of politics, culture, wealth, attitudes, so it’s going to be fun seeing how badly and well different bits go in different places and then bringing what I’ve learned from that to bear on the finished routines when I film them for the telly in December.
IN THE ‘90S YOU WERE A KIND OF YOUTHFUL COMEDY PIN-UP. WHAT’S DIFFERENT NOW YOU ARE OLDER?
I am what I am. In a way my physical collapse has been a huge advantage, it’s given me some tragedy, some gravity. Also I am going deaf, and now wear hearing aids, which has been an interesting challenge on stage. My knees are shattered and don’t work – I think I ruined them during the 200 dates I did of a show where I pretended to be Jeremy Clarkson kicking a tramp to death – and that has had an interesting effect on my physicality. If I jump off stage now or climb things there’s a genuine element of pain and danger. I’m like Eddie The Eagle or something.
Stewart Lee is at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, on Tuesday, March 17. The show starts at 8pm. Contact Eden Court box office on 01463 234234 or visit www.eden-court.co.uk