How do you feel about doing a second series?
"I didn't think it would be recommissioned... and it was recommissioned specifically to try to carve out an exciting new territory for comedy - 11.20pm after Newsnight on a weekday. The feeling being that my show is unlikely to snag casual viewers but that a hardcore of people will follow it."
Are you okay with the new slot?
"I'm relieved of the obligation to make any concessions in terms of the style of it. It's much more like the stuff I do live - the routines are longer and there are less jokes! Also there's been an across-the-board 30% budget cut to most comedy programmes... the sketches were what had to give. There isn't as much filmed stuff, but to be honest, being in the later slot and not needing to sugar the pill, they might have gone anyway."
What was Chris Morris's input as script editor?
"He really helped fix a particular problem. I noticed reviews saying that I was arrogant and condescending. I thought, 'That's interesting because it doesn't feel like that live'. In the room I'm able to fabricate some kind of struggle whereby the gig isn't quite working. I'm a lower-status character, so when you criticise someone you don't do it from a position of authority or strength - it doesn't seem arrogant."
How did Chris fix that on screen?
"I wanted some sort of device that would lower my status or make me appear to be under pressure. I spent days on end talking to Chris about different ideas to get that to work. We ended up with Armando Iannucci interviewing me throughout the series in a hostile way - criticising all the material and my role in the programme. That's cut in with all the stand-up and it works really well."
Did Chris write any material for the show?
"There was a bit I was trying to write about observational comedy, and I wanted things that sounded like things you get in an observational, mainstream set that are slightly wrong. Chris came up with this brilliant line about how when you go to the dentist there's always a fish tank, and in the fish tank there's always a tiny statue of Napoleon. It's the sort of thing that sounds like it's nearly true but isn't."
You said some people thought you were arrogant in the first series...
"I realised that lots of things people were criticising me for were things that I had actually set out to do. It made me realise that on some level I was on the right track. The tone of the new series is slightly reactive - trying to do more of the things that people hated. Not out of wilful perversity, but because the fact that they'd identified them meant that I probably hadn't done them enough. Sometimes things look a mistake, but if you do it much more then people have to accept that you've done it by choice - like improvised music. This series I've decided to push all the things that are irksome about it to people a bit further, so that they realise it's a choice - and it's their choice then to go with it or not."
What do you think about the impact of forums and the internet on comedy?
"I know that when the second series wasn't going to be commissioned there was a website with a petition for it. I don't know how much difference that makes. I don't know if broadcasters should take any notice of that. They're dealing with huge budgets and really those budgets shouldn't be held hostage to the fact that it's quite easy to get 10,000 people to vote for something."
Does online criticism affect you?
"I think it takes a lot of self-control to not look at what people are saying when you've got a new thing out. I don't think it influences content so much. Also, it's not something I have a direct contact with - I don't blog and I don't do Twitter."
"I don't really want anyone to know who I am. If people know things about you then they won't buy into stuff as much. I wrote a thing in The Guardian about the royal wedding and it looks like someone mad has written it. But if you know that I'm not mad and I have a family, you wouldn't buy into it as much... And I don't think it works as well for me as it does for Richard Herring. His work as a comedian is indivisible from his life - to a point where I sometimes wonder if he lives his life in a deliberately mad way to try and generate material!"
Richard told us that you were considering putting out Fist of Fun and TMWRNJ together...
"Oh, he's done it, he's sorted it out. Basically the BBC didn't want to put out Fist of Fun commercially, because they didn't think it would sell anything. But then they wouldn't let us have it either, because they said it hadn't recouped its value. He's managed to buy the first series or both series of Fist of Fun off them for 15 grand. So we've gone three ways on it. Me, Rich and Chris Evans who runs [independent DVD firm] Go Faster Stripe. Of course we can sell them after gigs and I don't think it should be too difficult to make the money back."
Are you excited about that?
"I think it's quite important for Richard's self-esteem. He's done much better than me financially in his life, he co-wrote Al Murray's sitcom, but I don't think he's had the critical acclaim that I've had. Weirdly I'd be much happier with the money and no critical acclaim! I think he feels he did something really good in Fist of Fun and it's never had the credit it deserved. I think it's really important for him to get it out there. I'm really happy for him that that's happening. I'm slightly ambivalent about it. I really liked the first series. I feel with the second series we were encouraged to make a number of artistically ill-advised compromises."
When will it be coming out?
"We'll film a load of extras for it... I think it might be next year - we've got an idea about doing a one-off gig to launch it."
Richard blamed Channel 4 for the recent Frankie Boyle controversy, what are your thoughts on Boyle as a comedian?
"He writes good jokes, but they don't seem to have a consistent point of view. When some of the things he said are explained in certain terms, that point of view is then contradicted by another joke. It's hard to justify them, because they don't add up to a coherent world view. I think the other problem Frankie has is that Channel 4 are defending him and we know that Channel 4 is run by opportunistic, moronic cynics."
"It's on Channel 4, so why would you trust it? It's true, isn't it? When people from Channel 4 say 'It's an example of the absurd, what Frankie's done', it isn't. They don't know anything. He and his writers come up with really great gags. In the mouth of someone else and in a different context, that thing about Katie Price's son might have read entirely differently. The problem is that Frankie's a high-status figure. Whereas if [Jerry] Sadowitz was doing it, it would read totally differently. Sadowitz is like a rat who's disenfranchised by the world. It would also read differently if it wasn't on Channel 4 - because Channel 4's just ugly and stupid on the whole... It's all about context."
Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle returns tonight at 11.20pm on BBC Two
Watch a clip from Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle below: