Robin Ince & Michael Legge
Hobgoblin Cheltenham Comedy Festival, Parabola Arts Centre
No time for mild-manneredness – molten anger was the theme for comedy duo Robin Ince and Michael Legge in their mid-week show.
Bursting onto the stage at the Parabola Arts Centre with a slightly baffling, nonsensical sing-song, the pair set about airing their woes, then inviting the Cheltenham audience to do the same, and ticket-holders certainly seemed to relish the chance.
But are we all enraged about the right things? Ince and Legge used their audience as the benchmark to measure whether any one anger-provoking issue was in fact cause for 'pointless anger', or 'righteous ire', hence the name of the pair's travelling act.
Among the things that irked Cheltenham's comedy-lovers, they discovered, were the St Margaret's traffic lights trial (which started this week), "roadworks, anywhere, any time," "false promises made by cosmetics advertising", and "people who congregate in public places" with no rhyme nor reason.
And it was only "firing at people indiscriminately at people in open air" and "not being able to vote in the US elections, despite all the election coverage" that Cheltonians honestly felt justified in getting angry about, it seemed.
From Robin Ince's personal list of gripes, The Infinite Monkey Cage co-host gave self-serving politicians a dig, the lacking quality of television ("that's a whole other thing") along with people he'd met who refused to accept point blank the finer details of his stance on religion. "I know what I said," he cried. "I was there!"
Michael Legge, meanwhile, said: "I hate couples who sit in pubs and don't speak to one another. It's the saddest thing. And the only thing I think is sadder than that –" "Is when they get married!" A voice from the audience interjected.
As to other random blood-boilers? "My favourite one was a man who put his hand up and said, 'the last four years'," said Legge. The one that stuck in Ince's memory was "one man in Glasgow who said he was 'very, very angry about the Spanish Civil War'."
While the premise was indeed a simple one, the show itself ended up being a faintly refreshing sorting exercise.
As the comedians plucked out ever more reasons to rant from mid-air, one thing became clear. Where "pointless anger" is concerned, we bow to hypocrisy. We get irritated by the dawdlers, until we're the ones doing the dawdling. In which case, it's our right to take our time.