Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Delete the Internet.

Hello. I am Michael Legge and I have an announcement to make. I am retiring from being angry online as from tomorrow and today I will be having my last ever online argument: With Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

25 years ago to the day, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the then keyboard player in D-Ream, invented the Internet and he is a cunt. I mean, he ruined absolutely everything. If you're young, you may not remember a time when a sack full of every hate-filled thought by every arsehole on the planet wasn't thrown at your front door, but 25 years ago today Sir Tim Berners-Lee decided that that was the very thing that was missing from our lives. Why are people keeping their thoughts to themselves?, he sang in Sack Full of Every Hate-Filled Thought, the follow up single to Things Can Only Get Better, his one and only sarcastic pop hit that the nation didn't get was a joke. Why can't we all read the minds of every single vicious bastard on Earth and openly agree with them?, he kept singing and singing and singing. I can barely listen to any of D-Ream's albums anymore. They sound like the beginning of the end of civilisation. Which they are. And that is the fault of one "man": Sir Tim Brooke-Taylor.

All of that might sound insane but that's only because I haven't slept for days. Maybe 2 or 3 hours a night for at least five days. Right now, I'm writing this at 4:53am after sleeping for 90 minutes. I can't sleep because the noise of the Internet is so constant in my head. I know what Dave Piss in St Albans thinks of non-English athletes in the Olympics and I shouldn't because he's far away, he's horrible and I have no interest. Yet, Mr. Piss's opinion has been posted online, retweeted, shared and put into the sack full of every hate-filled thought that arrives at my door every morning. I know what Kenny Dickhead in Utah thinks of #BlackLivesMatter and I shouldn't because he's far away, he's horrible and I have no interest in him. I know what Billy "The Wanker" Wanker in Blackburn thinks of Brexit and I shouldn't because he's far away, he's horrible and I have no interest in him. I know what Shit Shit in Wexford thinks of abortion and I definitely shouldn't because he's not far enough away, he's definitely horrible and he should always keep his stupid fucking pointless mouth closed while holding his nose blocking any oxygen unfortunate enough to locate his brain. Yet, Sir Tim looked at the world 25 years ago and decided he wanted to connect people, not to the mains like you or I would, but with a tool that means every single person can communicate with every single person in every single subject at every single second of the day, at all times. Sir Tim wanted to connect people. PEOPLE! The very things that should be isolated in iron trunks at the bottom of the sea permanently. He looked at a global forest fire and thought "What that fire needs is a voice".

When I invented online hate in 2008, it was adorable. Cute. I thought it would be funny to appear to be the least supportive member of the comedy community and openly abuse my contemporaries. But we were all younger then. I'm not sure we were ready for this possible huge change in our lives. It was back when Facebook was in its second trimester and the news that an unwanted Twitter had appeared and it was just a different time. They're both products of the regretted fling between MySpace and Geocities, a night that should have been forgotten. Society demanded we accept these horrible twins and let them grow, even though we clearly weren't ready to raise them properly. It was all pictures of cats and dinners then and maybe we thought it always would be like that. But, like The Smiths, pricks started to like them. Somehow, pricks really got into dinners and cats and, all of a sudden, the Internet was appealing to the same people who like violence, porn, far right politics and The Smiths. It was the middle of the beginning of the end of civilisation. 

Over the past few days I've got in online arguments with a joke thief, a pro-lifer abusing women and a cunt. These arguments lasted hours. Hours of whatever I have left of my life. I don't know why I argued with the last one. A cunt is just a cunt (D-Ream, 1996) and there is very little anyone can do about that but I argued with him anyway because that is what Sir Tim's plan for me always was. It's equally baffling that I got into such a long argument with the joke thief. It's not like everything I do in comedy is always so original. As for the pro-lifer? Yes, him targeting the utterly heartbreaking and noble @TwoWomenTravel is distressing but here's the thing: when you argue with a pro-lifer who has gone online to target and abuse women who are making such a brave statement and yet you start looking equally mad, it's time to rethink exactly what it is that you're doing. His views were horrible and, as he attacked, so I attacked him. I almost certainly couldn't change his mind. Can anyone calm insanity in 140 characters or less? But maybe I could have tried. 

One night in 1989, the first person outside of my immediate family that I loved asked me to go to the pub with her. She was the first funny, artistic, well-read alien I had ever met and she still appears other-worldly and exciting to me to this day. I worry about the fictional Michael in the alternative universe who didn't meet her because his life wasn't doing so well when I left him. She bought me cowboy boots. That night while sitting on a kerb drinking beer, she told me she had an abortion. My response wasn't angry or abusive but I did say that I considered it murder. 

I was 20 and even though I was a few years into atheism, I was still very much hardwired to think just as the Catholic Church taught me. Obviously, I felt bad that this person who I loved had experienced this and decided to read up on exactly what abortion was. I wish I could remember what I read now because those books helped me so much. I'm very much a pro-choice person and I'm ashamed of how my brain worked in the past. But, it's amazing what a bit of reading and actual facts will do. And maybe I could have told him that. Instead, I called him smelly. Yeah. I really did.

So, I'm done. I'm even calling off my last fight with Sir Tim Berners-Lee. He invented this awful thing so it's his problem. Just like stealing a joke, hating yourself so much that you send hate tweets to women and being a cunt is some other people's problems. I'm not looking in the sack anymore. Neither should you. In fact, stop reading this. If you have to look at anything Sir Tim's invention has to offer then look at @TwoWomenTravel and you will see something truly astounding, inspiring and tragically beautiful.

Sorry this isn't funny.


Monday, 8 August 2016

A Fringe Sell Out.

This year has seen the worst Edinburgh Fringe since 2007. It’s great that there are so few badly designed posters (practically none), there are no shuffling crowds to avoid and I’ve yet to get hassled by an over-happy foetus on stilts passive-aggressively threatening me with news of his play, but it’s still terrible. This year’s theme of the Fringe seems to be just existing. Walking around, doing nothing and just barely keeping things together. Why they decided to hold it in Lewisham is also a mystery.

The arrogance of being a relatively unsuccessful comedian and not doing the Edinburgh Fringe is atrocious. How fucking dare I not do the Fringe? Who the hell do I think I am? Last year was fun and the show did well so OBVIOUSLY I didn’t want a repeat of that and decided not to go. WHY? I lied to myself by saying I was going to work on something else. Something else? What else have I got? What else have any of us got? Nothing. I am not on Live at the Apollo and yet I decided not to do the Edinburgh Fringe. I’m not the host of The Graham Norton Show and yet I decided not to do the Edinburgh Fringe. I’m not “THE STAR OF” Mock The Week, 8 Out Of 10 Cats or Garden Rescue and yet I decided not to do the Edinburgh Fringe. I’ve not even been on Question Time. Name one comedian who hasn’t been on Question Time besides me? You can’t. And yet I decided to not do the Edinburgh Fringe. I’ve not even had an online misogynistic/racist breakdown or openly pretended that I’m transitioning just to get some attention and YET I decided to not do the Edinburgh Fringe. The gall. The arrogance. The utter egomania. And yet here I am, complaining about not going to the Edinburgh Fringe and being just as vain and pompous as any who are there and posting of near sell outs and how the internet was in to review them. I am pathetic.

And it’s not like the stand-up circuit is a lucrative alternative anymore. I’m lucky to get the gigs I do during any month, never mind August, but there’s no way I’m making a fortune by avoiding Edinburgh while all the real comedians are being one-starred to death at the Fringe. It’s hard on the circuit now. Hell, it’s hard for anyone. There’s not a single person I know outside comedy that doesn’t have two jobs to make ends meet and yet, here I am, fucking what little career I have left in a bin because I just felt like not doing Edinburgh! Years ago, I would mock my friends for having proper jobs. But not now. At least they’re doing something and going somewhere. Years go by and they get promoted while I avoid the ladder completely by poo-pooing Edinburgh. My friend Paul is a home security expert. He started his job around the same time I started mine and I remember thinking “People will always need laughter. Are locks really that important?” Turns out that door locks are the Michael McIntyre DVD of the home security world and, as a result, Paul is now successful enough to own a house, a car and a child. He’s even convinced me to think about getting a door lock. But, even he doesn’t rest on his laurels. Times are tough and, to make ends meet, Paul is also a bass player in a Queen tribute band playing 5-6 nights a week in provincial theatres around the UK. My friend Karl quit stand-up comedy to be a fitness instructor 10 years ago. At the time I thought “I can’t think of anything worse” but now he owns 6 very successful gyms and earns a fortune. Not that that’s enough for Karl. He knows how easy money comes and goes so he has a second job as a bass player in a Queen tribute band playing 5-6 nights a week in provincial theatres around the UK. When I left school, my friend John told me he wanted to join the church. I laughed in his stupid, religious face but I don’t laugh anymore because John is now a deacon employed by the Church of England and gets a free house and a car! Not only that, Deacon John has a second job as bass player in a Queen tribute band playing 5-6 nights a week in provincial theatres around the UK (not Sundays). My other friend John quit his band 25 years ago and I thought he was an idiot but now he makes about £20 million a year by being a silent partner in an operation by his former bandmates to sully his name by doing terrible musicals and feeding off the last remaining bits of flesh of their dead lead singer but even he knows that to make ends meet you’ve got little choice but to be a bass player in a Queen tribute band. Which he is. My mate… I dunno… let’s call him Kenny. Yeah, Kenny works as a guitarist in a Queen tribute band playing 5-6 nights a week in provincial theatres around the UK earning thousands every night but, look at Broken Britain, look at the times we live in. Even Kenny has a second job as bass player in a Queen tribute band playing 5-6 nights a week in provincial theatres around the Uk and I sit here, like Emperor Cunt doing fuck all squared and thinking that NOT going to the Edinburgh Fringe was a good idea. I’m a fucking idiot. I hate this. I hate it all. Please give me an hour at a dripping free fringe venue that’s in the middle of a fight with another free fringe venue. Anything. I just want to smell Edinburgh. I want to taste it. I want to taste its pain and its frustration and its disappointment. I want to cancel a show and burst into tears and meet someone who just sold out “again” and find out my accommodation doesn’t actually exist because at least while I was dying in Scotland, I’d be living. But NO. I decided to just choose a month long coma. Like a coward.

And then, in Manchester on Friday night (technically the first night of the Edinburgh Fringe), I died on stage for so long and to a maze of such grey silence. I could have been at the Fringe, performing every day and get better as a comedian. Every day, working on my act and my skills. But I said no. To those who said yes, I salute you. Have a great month no matter what. You’ll be on my mind always while I figure out what I thought August without the Fringe might be. I’d get another job but I can’t even play bass.