YOU may have paid your money, but Stewart Lee isn’t going to go easy on you.

The greying comedian, who made a recent return to television screens with BBC Two’s Comedy Vehicle, cast an unforgiving eye over everything from coffee shop loyalty cards to Top Gear as he took to the stage of Malvern’s Forum Theatre on Saturday (January 30).

Eschewing the current trend for snappy one-liners, Lee painfully, and often hilariously, deconstructed every joke, point by point, simultaneously warning the audience worse was to come.

There was no attempt to get the crowd ‘on-side’ as he fantasised about Top Gear’s Richard Hammond being killed in the car crash which left him with brain injuries in 2006.

The skit’s tabloid reception was tackled head-on by Lee who explained that although his comments were ‘only a joke’, they coincidentally represented his true feelings about ‘the Hamster’.

Lee’s characteristic repetition was used to great effect in the closing segment where a throw-away line from a cider advert was plucked from obscurity and subjected to 20-minutes of ridicule.

During this prolonged invective against the advert, in which Lee pretended the line had in fact been a passed-down tradition of his own family, he left the stage and circled the theatre, bellowing at the audience from behind their heads.

The former comic partner of Richard Herring and writer/director behind Jerry Springer the Opera proved that compromise and dumbing-down did not need to go hand-in-hand with comedy.

If You Prefer a Milder Comedian, Please Ask For One took no easy routes and was all the better for it.