Stewart Lee (born 5 April 1968) is an English stand-up comedian, writer and director. He became known as one half of the 1990s comedy duo Lee and Herring. Disillusioned, Lee gave up comedy in the early 2000s, believing that he had reached the extent of his audience, but saw his critical stock rise after he co-wrote and co-directed the critically acclaimed and controversial stage show Jerry Springer - The Opera. He has been active on the UK circuit since the early 1990s and has carved a niche audience which he has designed as anti populist, the anti "after the pub" audience, and he remains a significant voice despite his refusal to appear on the panel shows that have seen many of his contemporaries eclipse him. Although his audience figure are low, usually he tours to 400-600 capacity venues and he stands outside the comedy mainstream, he is well regarded by critics and a regular pundit on BBC political programming. In December 2011, Lee won the award for best male television comic for his series Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle which also won best comedy entertainment programme at the 2011 British Comedy Awards. A 2009 article in The Times referred to him as "the comedian's comedian, and for good reason" and named him "face of the decade". His stand-up features frequent use of "repetition, call-backs, nonchalant delivery and deconstruction", a device he jokingly ascribes to his tedious, exacting middle-class personality.