Stewart Lee grew up in Solihull and began stand-up in 1988 at the age of 20, having been inspired by seeing the post-punk anti-comic Ted Chippington open for The Fall in Birmingham in 1984. He won the Hackney Empire new act of the year award in 1990 and for the next decade was a five nights a week regular on the stand-up club circuit. In 2001 he was asked to contribute to the libretto for the composer Richard Thomas' Jerry Springer: The Opera which went on to win four Olivier awards. His most recent stand-up shows have been Stand Up Comedian (2004), 90s Comedian (2005), 41st Best Stand-up Comedian (2007), If You Prefer a Milder Comedian, Please Ask for One (2009), Carpet Remnant World (2012) and Content Provide (2016). Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle, featuring his stand-up, ran for four series on BBC2, and won the BAFTA for Best Comedy Programme in 2012. Stewart is also the author of the stand-up comedy studies How I Escaped My Certain Fate (2010) and If You Prefer a Midler Comedian Please Ask for One (2012). He has written for The Wire, Uncut, the Observer and Mojo, and won Celebrity Mastermind answering questions on the guitarist Derek Bailey. Stewart has two children and has lived in Stoke Newington, Hackney, since the 1990s. He recently recorded a half hour piece inspired by his contribution to this book, Telly Savalas Looks At Birmingham, with the free-jazz trio capri-batterie.
Maria Whatton was born in Liverpool and moved to the Midlands in the 1990s where she married a Birmingham firefighter and raised a family. She is a multi-award-winning storyteller who tours nationally and internationally telling ancient legends and folk tales. She lectures and performs in theatres, festivals and educational establishments.