Being flown to America to spend a week ranting about something you hate isn’t the worst way to make a living.
But that’s what stand-up comic Michael Legge had been doing a few days before he spoke with WOW247. He had been in San Francisco at the invitation of a comedy troupe.
‘I was teaching improvised comedy, which is deeply ironic because I hate improvised comedy, but an improvised comedy group in America saw that I was writing about it a lot, and weirdly they agreed with me.
‘They said: “Can you come over for a week and shout at us?” So we basically had a week of me saying what I hate about improvised comedy and seeing what we could do about that.
‘You know what? It was a waste of everybody’s time, but it was a good waste of time.’
Michael will be in Fareham for the next Shenanigans Comedy Club at The Ashcroft Arts Centre, but unlike many other comics, he’s not getting ready for annual summer assault on the Edinburgh Fringe, where he’s been a regular for the past eight years.
The life of a stand-up is terrible – you wake up at noon and you hate yourself. You come home after a gig, there’s no-one there, you sit there watching bad TV until 5am, eating terrible snacks and drinking aloneMichael Legge
‘I’m working on avoiding the Edinburgh Fringe, which is the highlight of my year – I actually love it, but I’m not doing it this year because I want to do something else.
‘I’m writing a thing and we’ll see what happens with it.’
But doesn’t Edinburgh just suck all you comics in each year, regardless?
‘It really does, You think it’s one month of the year, but it’s really not, it’s your year gone – you write it, you rehearse it, you preview it – that’s six months.
‘Then when you go up there, that’s another month, then afterwards, you go: “Well, I’ve just written a show and it’s up and running so I should be doing this somewhere else as well...”
‘I don’t particularly feel like I’ve earned a year off, but I’m having one.’
Later this year he’s planning a tour with Fareham’s own Danielle Ward, with whom he co-hosts the popular Do The Right Thing podcast.
And he also has another regular podcast with Robin Ince, Vitriola, where the pair discuss music. ‘It’s what we talk about when we meet up anyway – music that’s new and we’ve heard recently, but also music that’s old, and we’ve just heard for the first time.
‘And we go: “Why did we listen to so much garbage when there have been these beautiful pieces of art sitting there for 40 years going, well, we were recorded 40 years ago you could have been listening to us, but you didn’t, you went off and bought Shed 7 albums”.’
And if that’s not enough, there’s his blog. What he intended as an online diary soon morphed as he got cheesed off with other comics’ self-important blogs. ‘I thought: “This isn’t what the life of a comedian is like”, it’s terrible – you wake up at noon and you hate yourself. You come home after a gig, there’s no-one there, you sit there watching bad TV until 5am, eating terrible snacks and drinking alone.
‘That’s what it’s like, so I didn’t understand all these other comedians having online diaries making their lives sound amazing – like their lives were one long meeting at the BBC.
‘So I started to write from a point of honesty – that seems like the wrong word – but that’s what I was aiming for.’
The Ashcroft Arts Centre, Fareham
Thursday, April 7