AHEAD of his new BBC Two series, Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle, the 46-year-old thinking man’s stand-up reveals that without Edinburgh, he wouldn’t have a career, let alone be appearing at the Festival Theatre on Sunday in a brand new show, A Room With A Stew.
“I owe my career to the Edinburgh Fringe. I went in 1987 as a student. Seeing a comedian called Ted Chippington opening for The Fall in Birmingham two years earlier had made me want to be a stand-up, but seeing an amazing epochal bill at The Gilded Balloon of Arthur Smith introducing Normal Lovett, Arnold Brown and Jerry Sadowitz (all inspiring oddballs) was the next step up.
“And they drank in the same bars as us and got tuna rolls from the same chip shops. They were gods in alcoves.
“Back then Edinburgh was a cheap city. We slept on a church hall floor and washed at Infirmary Street Baths, which still provided a public service to residents without bathrooms, but is now a luxury apartment version of its former self.
“Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Fringe made me. But it wasn’t the Fringe of today, with its comedy cartels, or the Edinburgh of today, with its sky high rents.
It was an old Edinburgh long gone, which generously seeded generations of talent and asked for nothing back.”
Stewart Lee: A Room With A View, Festival Theatre, Nicolson Street, Sunday, 8pm, £22.50, 0131-529 6000