An Interview with Michael Legge

 

Michael Legge is a London-based Northern Irish stand-up comedian and is really great.  He’s been described as “Perfectly judged, with some beautifully splenetic turns of phrase” by Chortle and “Hilarious and barking mad” by The Skinny.  I interviewed him recently.  Here is that interview…

 

You’ve got some very nice jokes. I really like your subversive stuff like “If you don’t have a smelly friend… you know… You should get one. They’re brilliant”. Is that something you see as your style?

Ha!  I think that’s very generous of you.  It’s really weird but I think most comedians think they don’t really have a style.  Their style is probably very obvious to everyone except them.  If I have a style at all it’s “Making a mountain out of a molehill”.  I think that’s a fair assessment of my art.  I’ve said “I think” a lot there. Which is odd as I rarely think.

I think I like it.  You appeared in series two of Comedy Central UK’s “Alternative Comedy Experience” – what was that like?

I can tell you the very best thing about being on that show was that it was filmed at The Stand in Edinburgh.  It’s my favourite club in the world so it was slightly easier to relax and actually enjoy being filmed.  It felt and looked like a normal gig because that’s exactly what it was.  The other great thing was doing the interview with Stewart.  I realise how egotistical and pathetic this is but there’s a huge buzz from making Stewart Lee laugh.  Even if he was laughing at me rather than with.

I know what you mean, those interviews were really good. You made him cry with laughter with the frog orgy story.

And it’s a true story.  Does that make it better or worse?

Not sure, but definitely funnier.  During your set on that show, you have an excellent routine about the “Get involved” people at events/festivals. Did you think of that whilst squeezing through the Royal Mile during the Ed Fringe by any chance?

Yes.  That was actually the opener for my first Edinburgh solo show a few years ago.  I love the Fringe but it would be so much better without the performers and all people who work for them.

Ha!  When walking through the Royal Mile last year I was so thinking about that routine.  What’s your favourite joke that never gets much of a laugh?

Well, the punchline to that joke is “Like a drowning windmill”.  For a while it actually got a cheer because of how unsuccessful as a joke it was.  I never dropped it though because, quite frankly, it’s brilliant.

Question from stand-up comedian Bec Hill: Have you ever been given something by a fan?

Yes.  Lots of things really.  I’m known by such a small amount of people that when someone actually goes out of their way to give me something it’s very overwhelming.  I’ve kept all gifts I’ve ever been given.  The great thing is that after saying out loud that I’m vegan, loads of people have given me amazing vegan food.  I’ve been given lots of fan art.  It sort of makes me feel like I’m Blue Peter.  “Thanks for all your drawings”.  If I HAD to pick a favourite gift (and I don’t) it would probably be a Tom Baker Doctor Who scarf that was knitted for me.  That was pretty amazing.  And huge.  Also, Pei Yen D sent me these amazing stickers she made of me and my dog.  I asked her to design a logo for my show after that. They were amazing.  I imagine Justin Bieber gets constant presents but doesn’t really give a fuck about them. Probably because they won’t be as good as the ones I get.

That’s really interesting, I think I actually remember you mentioning that scarf on a podcast.  Interesting side-note, I think Bec Hill is really funny and I only discovered her because you retweeted her 2013 Fringe poster.

Bec is utterly brilliant.

I’ve seen you advertise a lot of fellow stand-up comedians’ gigs. Also, you’ve done the “Let’s sell out this gig” days on Twitter during the Fringe.  Do you think comedians do this enough?

I tried. There’s a huge lack of support in comedy from comedians but I think we’re doomed if we don’t give each other a hand.  I’ll never understand why comics don’t RT. It takes no effort. The cunts.

Ha! Speaking of cunts… (It’s like being on Wossy but more so) You host a night in London called “Los Quattros Cvnts” – can you tell me a bit about that?

I’d love to.  Los Quattros Cvnts is a sketch night featuring The Trap, Margaret Cabourn-Smith and me.  We rarely ever repeat a sketch so when you see us it’ll probably be the only time you ever see those sketches.  We decided that we wanted to do a show where we do anything we want.  We don’t edit for “taste” or think “oh, maybe not that many people will get that Likely Lads reference”.  Also, we’re called Cvnts so no one from TV will be interested in us right from the very beginning.  It’s very freeing to actually work on something that can never be sold and only exists for that one night.  We’re doing more shows soon.  We have a monthly residence at the Comedy Cafe in Old Street, London starting 2nd February, 2015.

Oh that’s great!  I remember at the 2013 Fringe you gifted me your great looking poster for your “Free Wi-Fi” show which I still have on my wall.  Are you going to the Fringe this year?

Yes, I am.  Well, I’m 99% sure I am.  If the venue I want say no, then I won’t.  But I’m very much looking forward to it.  I’ll be doing a show about how shit we all are and how famous people are all far better than us in every way.  It’s called “Tell It Like It Is, Steve“.

Sweet! I’ll be there.  What breed of dog is your beloved Jerk?

She’s a Lurcher, which is a mutt really. A cross between a greyhound and a terrier. Like me.

She’s very cute.  You’ve done quite a lot of work with fellow stand-up comedian Robin Ince, including the hilarious “Pointless Anger, Righteous Ire” double-act shows at the Fringe and your new music podcast “Vitriola Music“.  So, what’s Robin Ince *really* like?

I’ll tell you exactly what Robin is like.  He’s patient.  With me, I mean.  And I’m (mostly) patient with him.  That’s the thing about two angry, grey, sour old men.  We’re the only people who can stand one another and therefore we have to try our very best not to kill each other.  Have you seen Robin?  If you haven’t, you must.  I think he’s the best stand up comedian in the country.  Again, he barely does the same joke more than once.  And when he does, he’ll do it in a radically different way. Mainly because he can’t remember it, the senile twat.

I completely agree, I’ve actually seen Robin roughly 10 times, I saw him recently at The Stand Glasgow.  He’s brilliant.

Oh, great!  Another brilliant venue.

You’ve started writing you’re award-winning blog again after a few months on hiatus, does any of that material make it into your live shows?

Not much but some does.  The blog is really why I do solo shows.  I very much pretended to be a cheery LOVE ME LOVE ME “fun” comedian in clubs for years but when I started writing the blog I decided to be very honest about what it’s like to be a comedian.  Turns out we’re pretty incapable.  I should use more material from the blog.  I think I’m getting better at writing it now so I should use it.  Basically, once I started writing my blog, my whole performance style completely changed.

That’s great, “Blogging For The Blind” was very funny.  Will there be more “Do the Right Thing” podcasts with Danielle Ward & Margaret Cabourn-Smith (of Los Quattros Cvnts)?

Yes.  We’re recording more very soon and the last six (I think) we recorded should be online very soon.  We all do it for free, including producer Ben Walker who edits it while editing all the best comedy podcasts and being a dad and having a life.  So these things take time.  But I do know that there’s a few from the last lot that are our best yet.  I’m brilliant in them and Margaret is shit.  Really shit.

I saw a photo by skilled photographer Idil Sukan (who took the beautiful picture on this interview) of you & Robin Ince in bins on stage for a This Comedian gig. Can you tell me more about “This Comedian“?

This Comedian: Live was a gig to help finance a photographic exhibition about comedy.  Idil Sukan is a photographer who has been promoting comedy for 10 years.  Her work is amazing so she decided, quite rightly, it was time to display her work.  She designs all the good posters at the Edinburgh Fringe.  The ones you like are almost certainly hers.  Working comedians are rarely celebrated so it’s nice that there’s going to be this great chance to see so many images of people who have been doing truly great work but not necessarily household names.  There will be some famous comics on display (well, photos of them) like Paul Merton, Eddie Izzard, The Muppets etc.  I’m kind of more interested in her shots of Bridget Christie, Henry Paker, Sara Pascoe, John Robins, Elis James… well, loads of comedians who are completely on the rise.  And her work with the Penny Dreadfuls is amazing.  How she made those three clearly hideous looking men look good is a total mystery.  Also, the gig itself was great.  Robin and I performed a lost Beckett play with Arthur Darvill and it was a highlight of my entire existence.  Arthur is a brilliant comic.  You should really check Idil’s stuff out. There are a lot of photographers who are used by comedians but none come close to Idil.  Genuinely.  It’s like there’s a choice: you can have a great photo or a shit one.  Loads of people are happy with the shit ones.  And that’s fine, of course.

 

If you want more Michael Legge in your life, check him out on Twitter.  Also, there’s some of his upcoming gigs here.  He’s also performing his new show “Tell it like it is, Steve” at the Ed Fringe this year.