Review: Michael Legge: What a Shame – The Stand (2), Edinburgh.
Michael Legge has had a difficult time of late. According to the man himself “everything about my life is shit”. He finds himself in embarrassing situations so often that he keeps a shame diary. In addition, he is constantly mistaken for Dave Gorman, but his show isn’t about that. Yes, there might be a graph and a chart or two, but, as Legge frequently insists, this has absolutely nothing to do with Gorman. Welcome to What a Shame, one Irishman’s epic quest to overcome a life fraught with awkward difficulties.
Legge can spin a yarn. The stories come at a fast pace, laced with humorous asides that are captivating in their bitter intensity. Being from Northern Ireland, religion is clearly something that impacts heavily on the comedian. Train services can be infuriating at the best of times, but Legge takes us on a journey around London that would try the patience of a saint. The crux of the tale revolves around an holy epiphany involving a minor celebrity mishap, but this is not before Virgin Trains have engaged in a frenetic game of what he calls “twat dominoes”. Story telling is clearly Legge’s strength, a talent he employs often to bring to life a diverse range of social suicides.
Equally well constructed is the use of diagrams. Legge has compiled awkward situations into a pie chart and constructed a league table of his own shameful incidents. Number One has to be heard to be believed, the perils of having a youthful hairdresser laid bare in an hilarious cautionary tale recounted with vigour to the audience. In addition, Michael is constantly mistaken for other, more famous, comics. Legge plays off this fact well, alternating between comical disbelief and weary acceptance as he fraudulently signs fan pictures meant for others.
The religious theme, however, presents a difficulty. As he first strides onstage, Legge adopts a conservative Christian character, playing on his upbringing as he baits the audience with highly strung sarcasm and wide eyed innocence. Moving into a story, the character disappears, never to return. Unfortunately, this portrayal fails to adequately engage the audience, falling a little flat as an unnecessary opening gambit.
Complaints aside, What a Shame is an engaging, breezy hour of comedy in the company of a competent performer. Just don’t ask him to recommend a barber. Or mention Dave Gorman.
Dave of live review: Tuesday 7th August 2012.