He’s billed as the inventor of Canadian stand-up comedy and his act comes complete with endorsements from Geddy Lee of Rush and Stewart Lee. Which is funny as he bears a marked resemblance to Lee, both physically and in the painstaking repetition of his routines.
Funny but not all that surprising given that Baconface’s real identity leaked out well before the beginning of his Fringe show. Yes, Baconface – for those yet to cotton on – is indeed Stewart Lee, his face concealed by a mask with rashers of bacon stapled to it, wearing a Rush T-shirt under a plaid shirt with yet more bacon hanging off it (be warned, the piggy smell in the hot room is quite over-powering). What’s more, his Canadian alter-ego is playing the tiny Stand 2 space in an early afternoon slot to an audience pretty evenly divided between being those who are in on the joke and those who appear slightly perplexed by the whole exercise.
Basically the show is like watching a Stewart Lee set, albeit one performed in a roughly Canadian accent (although, much of the time, Baconface’s voice most closely resembles that of Rich Hall) and with slightly coarser material than you might expect from him. Lines like: “that Royal baby eh? He can suck my big fat cock.” Much of the humour here relies on Baconface’s similarities to Lee as a performer. The opening routine about an encounter with a door-to-door Seven Day Adventist is essentially Lee’s old routine about a Jehovah Witness rewritten and he often employs a fake English accent before informing the audience “that’s you, that’s how you sound” as if he was back on Fist Of Fun with Richard Herring. The final routine is very Lee-like, a long, drawn-out story with plenty of narrative repetition regarding rimming a 750lb male grizzly bear.
There’s a running gag about Baconface’s catchphrase, “it’s all bacon”, and the audience’s failure to adequately respond, as well as the regular name-dropping of Canadian celebrities. As ever with Lee, he takes a joke and stretches it not just to breaking point but some place beyond, testing the audience’s limits, but he also knows exactly at what point the material starts to wear thin and when to move things forwards. At one point, during a long routine on an alternative name for Bigfoot, he mutters “The Guardian said this bit went on for too long….fuckers”, and the room is immediately re-energised.
Baconface is probably going to appeal to Stewart Lee devotees more than the casual comedy fan, but the appeal of seeing him in a tiny room road-testing material (albeit in costume) at the staggeringly low ticket price of £5 is considerable even if you’re not a huge fan. The mask is more than a gimmick, it allows Lee to have a little fun, both with his persona and with audience expectation.