Michael Legge is a comedian and writer from Northern Ireland. He is a regular collaborator on radio with Dave Gorman and on stage with Robin Ince. In 2012, he became the talk of Twitter after he declared a man he had just made up, Gregg Jevin, had died. The ‘story’ was picked up by a number of news outlets and a benefit gig was organised. In 2013, he wrote a blog for 24 hours for charity (except for a bit where he fell asleep).
Maybe I’d like to believe in God if he was a bit more interesting.
On discovering comedy in a church
I saw stand up one day when I was about ten and I suddenly decided, ‘Well, I love comedy now’, and it’s weird to think of that now because the first stand up I ever saw, really, was Jimmy Cricket. And I saw him in my church hall – yeah, see, if it wasn’t for religion there’d be none of me – and I went and saw him and he was just absolutely fantastic. To this day I think some of his stuff is brilliant. I realise it’s crap – sorry Jimmy, I know you’ll be downloading this app – but it was brilliant really. His letters to his mammy are just fantastic. You know, ‘P.S. I would’ve put a fiver in but I’ve already sealed the envelope’. Boom boom, brilliant, why would I not want to do that, it’s fantastic. But then my comedy was not as nice and gentle as his because I realised if there’s anything funny about me it’s the very fact that I can’t stand anything. So, instead of doing comedy I just scream for an hour. And a lot of people get a lot of enjoyment from than that. They can go, ‘Well, at least I’m not him’.
My particular area of interest? It’s just me. I’m quite obsessed with me. But I’m a comedian, that’s what I do. I guess I’ve been doing comedy for about 12 years – something like that, probably a bit more, 100 years, something like that – and I guess I got into it because I saw The Young Ones on TV and I thought I would like to be a Young One. Sadly I’ve missed that goal now by some thirty years, but I used to be a Young One. Maybe I’ll be a Young One again one day.
On becoming a skeptic
It’s always been there really, I’ve always been a skeptic. I don’t really like the word skeptic. I’m clearly a skeptic, I just don’t really like the…I’m a realist, just the very fact that there can’t be magic and ghosts and living dreams, you know, it just can’t happen. And the very fact that I was raised Catholic you know, that all comes out. I realised there was no God, even though I was raised Catholic, I realised there was no God when I was six and I remember the moment it happened because my parents basically went ballistic. They went, ‘Shut up, don’t say another word’, because I think it had dawned on them there might not be a God so when their six year old boy just went, ‘Hang on. These Celtic crosses, they were made sixty thousand years before Jesus, but it’s a cross?! Jesus wasn’t real! They took that and said it was, wow!’ And I was only six when that happened and my parents got really angry with me so that’s been there throughout my life. And I guess my comedic heroes, people like Dave Allen, they always spoke…I mean he was a religious man but he always looked at…he questioned religion a lot and I guess that’s what I’ve done all my life, although I’m not sure I question religion any more at all, it’s not there to be questioned. I went to mass for the very first time in a long time just because I wanted to go to mass with my parents like in the good old days and, do you know what, the worst thing you could possibly say about it was it was a small community coming together to do what they do. Obviously the worst things, the real worst thing you could say about Catholicism is, ‘Oh Jesus Christ, there’s a lot of horror involved’, but really, mass, it was fine, lot of people getting together. The worst part of it was it was boring. And it reminded me of my childhood of having to go to mass all the time and being bored out of my brain, ah, maybe that’s what it is. Maybe I’d like to believe in God if he was a bit more interesting.
On the need to restart civilisation
If we were to kickstart civilisation – and I definitely suggest that we do – we have to look at technology. I guess this is what [things like] QED is about. The science that we have now, the knowledge that we have now, is a wonderful thing but it’s also too much. If I could change the world, if we could start all over again, let’s get rid of phones that we can carry about with us because it’s not a phone. It’s a massive noise making, anti-social machine. It’s just there to upset other people. ‘Look at the thing I’ve got and I want to annoy you with it.’ There is no-one…since the advent of the mobile phone and everything it can attach itself to, just general good manners has gone out the window. Everyone hates one another. You can’t get on public transport without hating every single other person on that train and you can’t go through your entire life hating everyone, so if we want to restart civilisation then for God’s sake switch your phone off! In fact, right now, get your phone out, go into settings, set it to silent, then come out of settings and don’t go back to settings ever again, for the rest of your life. Amen.
A favourite invention? Well, I think all inventions are terrible. I have to really think about this one. I mean, starting the world again, easy, just be nice. I think my favourite invention is beer. And I don’t mean that in a, ‘Wahey’ way, it’s just quite nice. Sometimes, whenever, you know, the world is noisy, and a bit rough, just have a beer and then all of sudden everything’s nicely numb. Does that sound negative? I don’t mean to sound negative, I’m saying that in a positive way. When the world’s gone mad, I just have a beer and then feel quite happy.
But I think there is something in science that has made me happier than anything else and I sort of loathe to say this really because I don’t want this getting back to a certain person and that person maybe being silently happy about it. But I really like podcasts, and I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I listen to Monkey Cage with Robin Ince and I think he’s the greatest man in science. I think he’s utterly brilliant. He’s completely changed comedy as far as I see it. He’s completely changed comedy for the last five years. I think he is the most underrated comedian in the world and I think he’s the best comedian in Britain. And don’t you ever, ever play this in front of him…