TV: Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle, BBC2, Episode 2 – Islamophobia

Warning. This episode contains skipping. Sure enough, Lee suckered his TV viewers in last week with a relatively benign look at the nature of modern comedy and a few cheeky swipes at his fellow entertainers. This week he goes for the jugular, addressing the more tricky question of the rise of Islamophobia and the acceptability of jokes about religion.

The skipping, inevitably, comes in a section about a different rise – the rise of observational comedy. I guess the running around is a wry poke at Michael McIntyre. It’s a broad visual gag and what makes it really funny is how red in the face Lee gets. Positively puce. I worried for his heart. In fact there is an uncharacteristically large amount of energy expended this week. There’s a lot of shouting at the screen too.

I won't give away too many of the gags here. Although they do work in print you really have to watch Lee to get the full impact. He truly is a consummate craftsman, showing how, unlike other comedians, he is capable to getting in his apology for a potentially ill-judged remark long before the punchline. Not that he is ever actually offensive.

In a number of set-pieces here he shows himself to be a master of having his comedic cake and eating it. Within the first few minutes he has his cake and eats it with an impeccable routine about the Great British Bake Off, including the best Mary Berry joke you will hear this year.

Lots of good stuff this week, even if at times Lee teeters on the cusp of self-parody. Yet despite his “liberal intelligentsia” schtick he remains accessible, with quips about Dapper Laughs and 50 Shades of Grey. There really are gags here that would work on on Live at the Apollo. As he suggests himself with a sly, mock-arrogant wink to the camera, he can do jokes if he wants.

Oh and there’s another treat here. I won’t go into detail except to say that it features Kevin Eldon and Paul Putner and might give you nightmares.

Read a review of episode 5 here

Read a review of episode 4 here

Read a review of episode 3 here 

Read a review of episode 1 here

Watch the series so far here.

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