Comedian Stewart Lee will be hoping to see more of Derry when he returns to the city next week, but admits it could be his last visit here.
One of the UK’s most famous comedians, Lee recalled a previous trip to Derry in an interview with the Derry Journal this week. “I have been to Derry before a number of times but I always arrived and left in darkness and never got to see it really. I am afraid I have no memory of Derry whatsoever, except for seeing the beatific face of Northern Irish stand-up Kevin McAleer in the stalls once and hoping he liked my act, as he is one of my favourite comedians of all time,” he said.
For many, Lee would come in as their favourite comedian of all time.
His latest show, which he brings to the Millennium Forum on Wednesday next, has been a big hit with audiences.
“The conceit of the evening is that I tried to write a clever show about the role of the individual in a digitised free market economy, inspired by the Caspar David Friedrich 1818 painting Wanderer Above A Sea Of Fog, but that it keeps being interrupted by pressing anxieties about Brexit and Trump and my own career,” he explained. “It is a very loose show, and more straightforward and less fraught than my usual ones. I wanted to be able to tour it for a couple of years so I knew I couldn’t kill myself every night by having to force my own mental breakdowns for the amusement of the public. I am 50 next year. I am a big man and out of shape. I doubt I will ever do a 250 date tour like this again. I will probably just do far less gigs in bigger venues, which I regret as they are never as good, but my kids are growing up missing me and months of service station food and hotel room mini-bar snacks eventually take their toll on your arteries. I doubt, sadly, I will ever come to Derry again to perform, for example. Or Perth. Or Barnstaple. Or Gravesend. Or Brawby. Or Pocklington. Or Brecon. I am now in managed decline. But I have had the rare privilege of seeing the UK town by town, year by year, for nearly three decades. I have had a good last decade. Few people in this business get a break after they are 40.”
Despite its demanding nature, the popular comedian says he much prefers touring to tv comedy.
“Performing on TV is rubbish. Audiences never react normally because they are self-conscious and you rarely capture the real magic of stand-up. That said I think the team on my Comedy Vehicle Show did capture the real feel of stand-up better than any TV show ever has, but it’s still not at good as being there. I love performing and the cares of the world, fears for the future and everything, lift the moment i set foot on stage. There are no middle-men, just you and the crowd organism.”
Stewart Lee performs at the Millennium Forum on Wednesday, September 27. Tickets are now available at the Millennium Forum.