Tornado on its way to York for three days as Stewart Lee double bill hits Theatre Royal

Stewart Lee: Two shows each night for three days in York

DELAYED by lockdowns, Stewart Lee’s Snowflake/Tornado double bill at last blows into York Theatre Royal from tomorrow (3/5/2022) until Thursday.

Bolstered by new material for 2022, the brace of 60-minute sets will be performed back to back nightly from 7.30pm. Good luck trying to acquire a ticket on 01904 623568 or at at this late stage.

Heavily rewritten in the light of two pandemic-enforced dormant years, Snowflake looks at how the Covid-Brexit era has influenced the culture war between lovely snowflakes and horrible people.

Tornado questions Lee’s position in the comedy marketplace after Netflix mistakenly listed his show as “reports of sharks falling from the skies are on the rise again. Nobody on the Eastern Seaboard is safe.”

“I’m just an old-fashioned entertainer at heart,” says Stewart Lee

Is the material still topical after a two-year layoff during the pandemic? “Well, believe it or not, the stuff in Snowflake making fun of Jimmy Carr for doing jokes about ‘gypsies’ has been in my show since 2019, as it’s the sort of thing he always does.

“So it’s just an indication of how he tends to hit the same shock buttons every time,” says Lee, in reference to the show discussing Carr’s ongoing use of material about the Traveller and Roma communities that saw calls for the 8 Out Of 10 Cats host to be prosecuted for incitement to racial hatred. “That’s a step too far, especially when he’s being condemned by members of the current government.

“The weird thing is that, because of the two-year downtime, lots of the material that was a bit ahead of the curve came into focus and goes down even better now. For example, everyone’s thought a lot more about the supposedly ‘woke’ ideas I endorse, what with Black Lives Matter and those leaked police e-mails about hating women. And Boris Johnson’s dishonesty and hypocrisy, which I discuss on stage, is undeniable now.”

Tornado takes the form of a long shaggy dog story about how Lee saw loads of rotisserie chickens being delivered to American comedian Dave Chapelle’s dressing room in London in 2018.

Stewart Lee’s tour poster for his rearranged Snowflake/Tornado itinerary in 2022

“More people know who he is now because he got in trouble with transgender people last year,” he says.

“But some material had to be ditched from Tornado after lockdown. I had 20 minutes in 2019 about what I imagined the new James Bond film would be like,  but it’s out now.

“That said, dropping that bit and switching in some new stuff tightened the second half, which is largely about attempts by the right to weaponise a ‘culture war’ against liberals and minorities.”

Lee’s comedic schtick may be defined as “people paying to see a miserable and frustrated middle-aged man wind himself up into a frenzy about everything”, but to counter that perception, he says: “The funny thing with this tour is that my obvious delight at being back on the boards can’t help but infect the audience. I’m just an old-fashioned entertainer at heart! Like Vera Lynn. Or that Emu.”

Lee, 54, will be touring Snowflake/Tornado until July. His new show, Basic Lee, will be fine-tuned in Edinburgh Fringe work-in-progress shows at The Stand in August before playing the Leicester Square Theatre, London, from September 20 to  December 17. A national tour will follow from  January 26 2023 with full details at