Book, er, something. How I Escaped My Certain Fate by Stewart Lee. This was a good book. And, especially a good excuse for a book, in all the right senses. It's a sort of director's commentary on his old comedy routines.
The director's commentary is a great new form. Possibly one of the few really new ones, like live-blogging, and Mr Lee does it really well.
All my time-lagged social media are warning me that I'm coming up to the one-year anniversary of various interesting things going on in my life and I can feel the director's commentary urge coming on. Wondering to myself what I thought I was doing. Maybe when I've got all these books out of the way.
Sometimes I think eighties music genuinely was more original and interesting than anything since, and sometimes I realise I'm an old fool. I guess both things could be true:
"Writing this now, God, how I miss the cultural side of the eighties – the rhetoric, the raggedy clothes, the politics, gigs you were frightened to go into, Radio 1 when it had weird bits, Channel 4 when it was radical, the NME when it had writers, and the thrill of discovering underground music and new comedy for yourself. Or maybe I just miss being eighteen, and like all those columnists who turned forty sometime in the late nineties and wrote simultaneous think-pieces on why Punk was the best thing ever, I’m just confusing the thrill of being young with the notion that the era in which I was young was in any way especially creative or remarkable."
It's probably healthy to move on enough in your life that you can be appalled by your own behaviour:
"I don’t know if I’d do this material now. I am so politically correct these days that picking on someone because they couldn’t spell properly would seem wrong. Mocking the uneducated, disenfranchised white working class for being uneducated probably isn’t the best way to get them to feel less isolated and to stop being so racist. What is? I don’t know, but I look back on bits of these routines from half a decade ago and sometimes I wonder who the person doing them was."
Ah. Is it art? Everything that isn't art is better than it.
"comedian Simon Munnery, who invented top-selling computer games for the ZX81 whilst still a teenager, was reviewed, favourably, by the Guardian recently as ‘the closest stand-up comedy gets to art’, and has pointed out himself that this suggests that however good stand-up gets, it can never really be art. There is an impassable canyon between the two. Munnery has since decided that rather than it being good comedy, he now wants his work to be categorised as ‘shit art’."
That's the big lesson. Don't revel in boring. Go beyond it:
"The composer John Cage said, ‘If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all."