Alan Moore Popped Up on BBC2’s Stewart Lee’s Content Provider Last Night

Alan Moore and Stewart Lee have been friends and colleagues for some time now. It first broke for cover in 2005 on BBC Radio 4’s Chain Reaction show in which stand-up comedian Lee interviewed Moore, for Moore to then interview Brian Eno the following week. Lee has written for Moore’s Dodgem Logic magazine, Moore interviewed Stewart Lee for the Guardian about his book Content Provider, based on his Guardian newspaper columns…

They seem to help each other out when the other asks.

And basically on BBC 2 last night the conversation continued. Alan Moore provided cutaway moments for the two-hour stand-up set of the same name, Content Provider by Stewart Lee, playing the role that Chris Morris played in the Stewart Lee Comedy Vehicle stand-up series, also now available in full on the BBC iPlayer, even as Lee slams the BBC for cancelling his series.

And so Moore challenges Stewart about his work and his set in condemning tones, which Lee accepts and agrees with. It helps that Moore is a very funny man with a very dry sense of humour that Lee can’t help but play up to. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: when interviewed, Alan Moore speaks often in very dry self-derogatory mocking tones that manage to sound incredibly egotistical when written down and reported in print. The internet isn’t great with tone, but Alan Moore makes jokes — and gets jokes — better than most. And, just as with Chris Morris, Stewart Lee likes a challenge from someone he respects.

The set is filmed at Southend at the end of his tour — with an audience who Lee states from the outset are not his people and concludes that his fans who are there, who he dubs sycophants, have brought their friends along in a misguided attempt to support his show, who clearly don’t get what he’s doing. It’s been a common aspect of his set to attack and divide his audience, to try to play them against each other, the condemn them all for not getting his jokes, refuse any applause from those who do, but eventually bring them all round in a glorious crescendo. And this he utterly achieves, atop piles on DVD boxsets of other comedians, in Content Provider.

The cutaways are filmed in a more familiar place for Bleeding Cool readers, the St. James’ Working Men’s Club in Northampton or Jimmy’s End of Nighthampton from Alan Moore’s The Show films with Mitch Jenkins.

And it begins…

Alan Moore: Well, Stewart, I’d think I’d like to start off by asking: how do you see yourself at this late juncture of your career? I mean, what is it that you exactly think you’re doing?

Stewart Lee: I don’t know, and it’s not something that I feel is good enough to be broadcast. I want to stop this now, but there’s always an just enough of an inducement to carry on, and there doesn’t seems to be anyway to bring it to a close. The series was cancelled, and I was told by BBC2 Comedy that they didn’t want any more. Then another bloke sort of intervened…

The show can be seen in the UK for a month on the BBC iPlayer, and they have made his previous Comedy Vehicle shows available too.

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.