STEWART Lee is one of my comedy heroes. I first knew him as a bloke 'off the telly', in parternship with Richard Herring, but since then his comedy vehicle has rolled along and now... well, now he's just a middle aged man who does nothing but watch Scooby Doo with his four-year-old son and drive around retail parks, desperately searching for material. Or so he would have us believe.

Stewart Lee is an incredibly clever comedian, and when I left Cheltenham Town Hall I felt like I'd played an intrinsic part in the performance and was really quite pleased with myself because of that. But dammit... the man made me work for my entertainment!

Lee manipulates his audience into thinking that they are privileged to be present, poking fun at those who have never seen him before, those who have come along with friends, and even those under 40. You are expected to 'get' the joke, even in you don't necessarily find it that funny.

A master of his art, Lee pokes fun at himself. He pokes fun at other comedians. He pokes fun at the Americans and he pokes fun at Islam. He deconstructs his act and critiques himself as he goes... but his self-deprecating humour is all a means to an end.

Cheltenham Town Hall is certainly the place to see the big names in comedy nowadays, and Lee is one of the biggest. But don't expect any belly laughs. The act is all about understanding the work of a successful (if jaded) comic, and giving yourself a pat on the back if you do.

But was the man who resorted to a 'kids say the funniest things' anecdote to keep the audience engaged actually funny? You know, the jury's still out on that one (but no one could say that we weren't warned!)