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Michael Legge: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

The universe has clearly got it in for Michael Legge. Whatever he did to piss it off, it’s getting its revenge in scores of tiny instalments every single day.

For this show, Legge started a diary of all the embarrassing things that befell him, but racked up so many he stopped after a couple days, presumably before he developed writer’s cramp.

Oftentimes, this makes him angry, the battering of frustrations taking its inevitable toll. Yet, paradoxically, he has also come to accept this miserable fate, and takes the myriad of daily humiliations with a Zen-like acceptance of the random unkindness of existence.

Thankfully, though, there’s nothing like the misfortunes of others to generate laughs, which mean Legge’s cringe-inducing stories are a rich vein, which he mines with passion and creativity. Only the really big things now get him really psychotically irate, like travelling by Virgin Trains, and there can be few who don’t share that fury.

Even with this common-or-garden story of commuter misery, Legge tells it with a mounting aggravation that is clearly heartfelt. But it’s when he gets into the more unusual pratfalls that seem only to happen to him that we find the most fertile ground. This is slapstick as stand-up, gilded by Legge’s frequently delightful turns of comic phrase.

Comedy tropes ranging from other celebrities he resembles to sending the wrong text to his mum thus overcome their potential hack status as he takes situations to extremes, and by a linguistically scenic route.

Particularly delightful are his in-jokes and choice of pop-culture references; wilfully minor figures that nonetheless trigger memories in most the audience of a certain age.

For fans of structure, this a slightly messy show. For although the main theme is personal shame, ending with a great story about his wife tracing her family history from Eastern Europe to the States, Legge starts with some funny – but decidedly off-topic – rants against the indoctrination of religion, starting the gig as if in some happy-clappy God Gang. You can obviously link the inherent shame of the Catholic church to the rest of his narrative, but he barely bothers.

It doesn’t matter much, and he certainly wouldn’t be ashamed if it did. Legge is a man who’s learned to own his embarrassment… but he’s still happy to share.

Review date: 13 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Stand 2

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