Thursday, 9 February 2012

Stewart Lee

Stewart Lee: bloody hero
Dear Stewart Lee

I can't sleep. The only thing I can think of to calm down is you. My sense of unease has brought me to post on here, my little blog, for the first time in four years.

I saw bits of the opening episode of the new series of 10 O'Clock Live earlier. It was an ignoble urge that took me there, I admit it. The brief bits I'd seen of the previous series held the kind of allure that people often describe as car crash or train wreck. It was more than just the car crash/train wreck aspect that made me want to watch a bit of the new series, though. It was more than just the the general awkwardness, astonishing even by the usual standards of live television.

I have to tell you, I can't remember details of the first series. I don't want to. The impression of something that stuck out still remains, though. I used to think Charlie Brooker was great, but something in 10 O'Clock Live sealed a growing idea that he was just another celebrity. I'd come full circle, really. I was hardly impressed when I first read his writings on TV. I thought more of him over time. I got his book of columns when that came out so I could catch up on any I'd missed. I thought he was sharp when I read or saw him. Then I began to hear he'd lost it. I heard about the Blue Peter girlfriend and his Shoreditch haircut. It can be so silly, I thought, this lost-it idea. The first column I read after those lost-it accusations did ruin most of the respect I had for him, though. He'd chummed up to Ian Hislop on Have I Got News For You as well. God knows what else I missed. Anyway, the first series of 10 O'Clock Live somehow took the vestige of respect that I had for him.

It's as if 10 O'Clock Live should work in some way. It's when you see it for a moment that it falls apart, unfortunately. Jimmy Carr is the weakest element, but even he has a funny line or two every now and then on some programmes, I think. I can't think of any programmes at the moment. Anyway, never on 10 O'Clock Live.

Lauren Laverne. She was in that lovely indie pop band, and she's so pretty, a dream presenter because she's so sharp, and she has that wonderful Vic & Bob humour. Weren't her parents academics? But she's on autopilot nowadays. She plays shit music on that Radio 6 daytime programme. Her heart is clearly elsewhere and it's painful to hear her nowadays. My girlfriend calls her embarrassingly mumsy. It's worse than that, though.

I loved David Mitchell. He reminded me of Stephen Fry. I used to think, Stephen Fry's bloody everywhere and yet I'm not tired of him! Then I found out he's a monarchist. Then I found out David Mitchell's a monarchist on the opening programme for this new series of 10 O'Clock Live.

I never thought anybody would agree to a second series of 10 O'Clock Live. I thought, if I watch any of the opener I wonder if I'll learn how much worse these people are than I currently suspect. The programme seems conducive to this sort of discovery. How much worse are these celebrities whom I had once thought of as sympathetic or at least occasionally tolerable?

Amazingly, Lauren Laverne's dead soul commanded her body to stand before a teleprompter and read as objective fact the kind of pathetic defence for bankers' bonuses you hear, as ever if you're unlucky, from George Osborne. Worse, the scriptwriters had managed to render it in even more simpleminded terms than usual. It conspired with Laverne's delivery to sound like an excerpt from The Ladybird Book of Absolute Shortsighted Bigots, and she sat down after to get the other presenters to agree to the story she'd just told. Charlie Brooker strained to keep quiet, tried to pass off some half-hearted attempt at a surreal cartoon imagining of what a posh banker at work does, while monarchist David Mitchell defended the principle of socialism as convincingly as Monty Python defended Eric Idle's right to have babies. Jimmy Carr decided capitalism of any kind whatsoever can only exist if bankers pay themselves any amount of money they want.

You're the only one I think, Stewart. Who else is truly cool and fights the good fight?