See his National Parks of America (1966), The Quiet Crisis (1963, repr. 1967), and 1976: Agenda for Tomorrow (1968).
|April 5 1968|
|Writer, stand-up comedian, director|
| Fist of Fun (1993-1995)|
This Morning With Richard Not Judy (1998-1999)
Jerry Springer: The Opera (2001-2005)
90's Comedian (2005-2006)
41st Best Stand Up Ever! (2007-2008)
While studying English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford in the 1980s, he wrote and performed comedy in a revue group called "The Seven Raymonds" with Richard Herring, Emma Kennedy, Michael Cosgrave and Tim Richardson, but did not perform in the well-known Oxford Revue, though he did write and direct the 1989 Revue.
He rose to greater prominence in 1990, winning the prestigious Hackney Empire New Act of the Year competition.
With Richard Herring, Lee wrote material for BBC Radio 4's On The Hour (1991), which was anchored by Chris Morris and was notable for the first appearance of Steve Coogan's celebrated character, Alan Partridge, for which Lee and Herring wrote much early material. After a disagreement with the rest of the cast, On The Hour was released with all his and Herring's material edited out. In 1992 and 1993, he and Herring wrote and performed Lionel Nimrod's Inexplicable World for BBC Radio 4, before moving to BBC Radio 1, for one series of Fist of Fun (1993). This was followed by three series entitled Lee and Herring. These shows mixed sketches with live links and music, in a format that Radio 1 seemed to favour at the time (other classic examples of such include Chris Morris, Armando Iannucci, and Simon Munnery in his guise as "Alan Parker: Urban Warrior").
Fist of Fun moved to television for two BBC Two series, and was followed in 1998 by This Morning With Richard Not Judy, in a similar vein but notable for being broadcast live in a Sunday morning slot.
A change in BBC management after the second series of the latter effectively brought his partnership with Herring to an end (at least, for the time being) but the two comedians still share a similarity of humour. Throughout the late nineties he continued performing solo stand-up (something that has always been a mainstay of his career - even whilst in the double act with Herring) and has collaborated with, amongst others, Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding of The Mighty Boosh. Their first performance was as part of his Edinburgh show King Dong vs Moby Dick in which Barratt and Fielding played a giant penis and a whale.
Lee returned the favour by going on to direct their 1999 Edinburgh show, Arctic Boosh, which remains the template of all their live work.
He is noted for his diverse musical taste. He once said that the only band he liked that anyone else has heard of was R.E.M.. He is, famously, a huge fan of The Fall. He has written music reviews a number of outlets including since 1995 The Sunday Times. He is also a regular presenter on, and patron of, Resonance FM 104.4.
In 2001, Lee published his first novel, The Perfect Fool. It attracted a degree of critical acclaim as a debut novel, but this was not matched in sales figures.
In 2002 Lee played the role of Carey in the Doctor Who webcast Real Time, together with Richard Herring as Renchard and Colin Baker as the Doctor, and accepted an offer from the composer Richard Thomas to contribute ideas to the fledgling production, Jerry Springer - The Opera.
Whilst Lee found himself moving away from the stage, he continued his directorial duties, this time on television. Two rejected pilots were filmed for Channel 4, Cluub Zarathrustra and Head Farm. Neither went to series. The former, however, would feature all the ingredients that would later appear in Attention Scum, a BBC2 series fronted by Simon Munnery's League Against Tedium character, which also featured the likes of Kevin Eldon, Johnny Vegas and Roger Mann, as well as Richard Thomas and opera singer Lori Lixenberg, in their guise as "Kombat Opera".
All the while, however, the theatre piece Jerry Springer - The Opera had been evolving. From its small scale beginnings as a scratch piece at Battersea Arts Centre, it achieved its finished form at London's National Theatre via performances at the 2002 Edinburgh Fringe.
At the 2003 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Lee directed Johnny Vegas's first DVD, Who's Ready For Ice Cream?, a move away from the traditional "stand-up comic releases a DVD" format, involving a plot in which Vegas loses his comedy "mojo" and has to track it down via a journey of personal discovery. That said, there is a full version of Johnny's stand-up set featured as an extra on the DVD.
In 2004, Lee returned to stand-up comedy with the show Standup Comedian, which earned him a "Tap Water Award" in Edinburgh and was released on DVD in October 2005. This features extra footage of performances from his earlier career. This show was toured extensively throughout the UK, Australia and USA.
In January 2005, Jerry Springer - The Opera, a satirical musical/opera based upon The Jerry Springer Show, was broadcast on BBC Two, following a highly acclaimed West End run for several years, and as a prelude to the show's UK Tour. Christian Voice lead a number of protest groups who claimed that the show was blasphemous and highly offensive. In particular, they were angered by the portrayal of Jesus Christ in the show. Disputes arose, with supporters of the show claiming that most of the protesters had neither seen the show nor knew of its actual content. Others supported the show's right to freedom of speech. Several Christian groups protested at some of the venues of the UK Tour. The show was broadcast with a record number of complaints prior to its airing. A private court case brought by Christian Voice against Lee and others involved with the production for blasphemy was rejected by a Magistrates' Court.
In 2005, Lee tackled the subject of the religious hatred he experienced after the broadcast of Jerry Springer - The Opera in his stand-up show, 90s Comedian. This show has earned him some of the best reviews of his career, largely due to the un-checked vitriol he unleashes in the latter half of the set, "taking no prisoners" in his attempt to display what he claimed was the lunacy of sacred cows.
A recording was made in Cardiff in March 2006, although there was no distribution deal in place because of the commercial failure of the Standup Comedian DVD and the controversial nature of the show's material. The show has now found its way onto the market thanks to marketing and distribution via the internet. This has been done by Go Faster Stripe, the company who set themselves up in order to film the show.
2006 appears to have been an eventful year for Lee. As well as his directorial contribution to Talk Radio, he still gigs regularly & appeared regularly on television and radio, in - amongst others - Armando Iannucci's, Time Trumpet, as a version of himself thirty years in the future looking back and commentating on the present day. The show ran on BBC2 from 3 August 2006 to 6 September 2006 on Thursdays at 10 pm. Also in August, Lee presented a programme in the Five series Don't Get Me Started. The documentary discussed the issues of blasphemy, religious censorship and the rise in protests from religious groups over perceived attacks on their faith. This was of course of some interest to Lee, especially considering his experience in the Jerry Springer -The Opera controversy. (See above)
He separated from his long standing management company, Avalon for reasons undisclosed, and on September 25, 2006, he appeared on the BBC Radio 4 quiz Quote Unquote. On November 9, 2006, he was guest on Never Mind the Buzzcocks and on November 24, he appeared on Have I Got News for You to pay for his wedding In October, he presented a forty year tribute to Star Trek on BBC Radio 2, and on November 24 2006, he presented White Face, Dark Heart, the first of two programmes on Radio 4 about clowns, during which he fulfilled a ten-year desire to witness the rituals of New Mexico's sacred clowns.
Lee has also curated a CD for the Sonic Arts Network called The Topography of Chance. Lee explores different artists, writers and musician’s experiments with randomness and chance and has brought together an eclectic mix of artists including tracks by; Simon Munnery, Arthur Smith, The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, Jem Finer, Kombat Opera, Jon Rose and more.
January saw Lee open his show What Would Judas Do in double bill with Mark Ravenhill's Product: World Remix at London's Bush Theatre. He is also writing a sitcom pilot about the god Thor, for BBC Two, and script-editing another sitcom pilot, this one about the Brontë sisters. Organised a tribute to cult comedian Ted Chippington entitled "Tedstock" at London's Bloomsbury Theatre in February 2007 in order to raise money to fund a CD release of Chippington's work. The show included a one-off performance from Lee and Herring, along with fellow Ted fans Simon Munnery, The Nightingales, Phil Jupitus, Josie Long and Stephen Carlin.
Lee's new stand up show, originally to be named March Of The Mallards (a title parodying that of the film, March of the Penguins), was developed during the first half of 2007 for a full debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival before an autumn tour.
In March 2007, Lee was named 41st best stand-up of all time in a Channel 4 survey, beating Dave Allen, George Carlin, Steve Martin, Robin Williams and Tommy Cooper. Channel 4 did not reveal exactly how the voting was conducted, but 150,000 members of the public were polled, as were an undisclosed number of experts. In the light of this result Lee renamed his Summer 2007 stand-up show 'Stewart Lee - 41st Best Stand Up Ever!'. During the show he joked that since Bernard Manning had died since the show was aired he felt he should be moved up to Number 40. He staged warm-ups for this tour at Latitude Festival in Suffolk and in a small gig at Shortfuse in Islington in July after debuting at XS Malarkey in Manchester at the end of June 2007.