Few comedians would get away with breaking down a joke in the middle of their set to tell the audience that they laughed at the wrong time. Then again, few comedians have a relationship with the audience like Stewart Lee has.

Bringing his latest show Content Provider to a packed-out Winchester Theatre Royal, Lee proclaimed to Winchester’s “metropolitan liberal elite” that his show was critically acclaimed and that if there were any problems with the evening they were not coming from his side of the stage, and he was right.

Lee has a dilemma – he’s critically acclaimed but decidedly niche. People who have heard of him buy tickets for his shows; but don’t know what why are going to get. Fans bring their friends: who then don’t enjoy the show half as much. Ticket touts buy up seats, and then find that no one wants to pay over the odds for them. It turns out his ideal performance would be a sold out show where nobody turned up, as he’s be paid but it would remove the worst part of being a performer – the audience that don’t appreciate his genius.

At one point proclaiming himself “the moral arbiter of stand-up comedy for the past 16 years” his scorn spared no one - from Brexiteers to Trump, other comics - whose live DVDs were strewn across the stage (they were the cheapest building material he could find, which he gleefully stamps on throughout the show), Game of Thrones, (or Peter Stringfellow’s Lord of the Rings as he calls it) and even himself.

Turns out Lee hates his stage persona because he would never appear on Sky, so he refused to take a lucrative TV deal with them several years ago to take his BAFTA winning series Comedy Vehicle to ‘Rupert Murdoch’s Evil network’. A deal that shows what a pariah he has become because Sky tried to send him a cease and desist when he started mentioning it in his shows. This was of course before the BBC cancelled it because it was “critically acclaimed and incredibly cheap to make”.

Lee’s vitriol came to a hilarious crescendo when he began to rave about his hatred for the under 40s while his trousers slid down to his ankles, gesticulating wildly with the microphone stand as he raved about the utter pointlessness of the young.

Cynical, bitter, and hysterically funny, Stewart Lee may loathe the audience, but I can’t say the feeling is mutual.