It's all about irritation for stand-up Stewart Lee at Alban Arena

PUBLISHED: 10:12 06 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:39 06 May 2010

Stewart Lee

Stewart Lee

CRACKING jokes for 20 years has earned comedian Stewart Lee nothing more than greying hair and relative obscurity - but he wouldn t have it any other way. Stewart, who will be performing his new show If You Prefer A Milder Comedian, Please Ask For One at

CRACKING jokes for 20 years has earned comedian Stewart Lee nothing more than greying hair and relative obscurity - but he wouldn't have it any other way.

Stewart, who will be performing his new show If You Prefer A Milder Comedian, Please Ask For One at the Alban Arena on Saturday, first started out as a stand-up comedian in the 1980s and, "like good wine or a mature cheese", he said that his comedy had only got better with age.

"Being old suits my comedy, because I get more and more miserable as I age. I held on to a kind of manufactured anger when I was younger but now, at the ripe old age of 41, I suffer from genuine despair so moaning comes naturally."

"Also, because a lot of things irritate me, I'm never short of material. The stage is my platform - where I can get things of my chest. I'd like to die on it one day, although I do often worry that my audience would think I was joking if I did. I don't think I'd want a roomful of people laughing at me for the first 10 minutes of my death."

Stewart, who covers everything from emigration to prawns in his show, believes that he's a rarity among today's stand-up comedians: "I hope to remain unpopular because I hate all this modern-day mania for TV-friendly comedians. Stand-up was a labour of love back in the good old days of class acts such as Lenny Bruce and Dave Allen but it's far more commercialised now."

"I think traditional stand-up also depends a lot more on how to keep the audience interested. Comedy is far more than just context - style, rhythm and tone are just as important and the use of silence can be very effective."

Stewart, who had his own BBC show - Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle - earlier this year, said that he was looking forward to entertaining St Albans: "I've never performed at the Alban Arena before but I hear it has good acoustics and I always enjoy visiting a new venue. So much depends on the audience - there's always the worry that no-ones going to laugh at your jokes so be prepared for the possibility of failure!"

To find out more about Stewart and his career visit www.stewartlee.co.uk and to book tickets for his show at 8pm on Saturday, log on to

www.alban-arena.co.uk

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