Stewart Lee, stand-up comedian, has been writing an Observer column for the past few months. Part of the pleasure is seeing how many of the commentariat think he’s serious. He does make serious points, but they’re cloaked in absurdist humour that makes categorical statements appear as if he actually believes them. Some readers get extremely offended and even try to correct his mischievous misinformation. I think he understands this and consciously writes his material as a snare for the ones who won’t get it.
This week’s article by Stewart Lee – Shame on you, Alex Salmond, for selling us out to the Bullingdon Club – is subtitled, The loss of 5.5 million Scots would mean 5.5 million fewer voices to say no to Cameron’s cronies. Fair point, now that Scottish independence is front and centre of the political parade ground. Bit of a back-hander, though, implying as it does that the English are so thick they’ll vote against their own interests every time. To be fair, he also attacks Alex Salmond and makes surrealistically egregious slurs against Scotland. I particularly enjoyed, “It was that treacly Scottish heroin that finally freed my imagination to make me the important artist I am today.”
Some of the material in the article is a retread of this video of Stewart Lee talking about national identity. The article’s brilliant, as much for some of the baffled, spluttering responses as for the content. And the video is hilarious. His Glasgow nightclub audience has a sense of humour, unlike some of the people commenting on the article.