Pointless Anger, Righteous Ire: Robin Ince and Michael Legge

By Holly Burns

An hour of two middle-aged men loudly airing their vexations about the modern world while turning red with apoplexy may not seem like a source of genuine glee and belly laughs, but when the men in question are Robin Ince and Michael Legge, that enjoyment is guaranteed.

Pointless Anger, Righteous Ire takes a democratic approach to spleen-venting. The audience are asked to give examples of things that make them angry – the show I attended at the Roundhouse featured adverts for men’s razors, supermarket self-checkouts and “little things” amongst the annoyances – which inevitably induce a flood of rage from either Ince or Legge. After a bout of shouting, the audience votes on whether that particular irritation produces justified righteous ire, or mere petty pointless ire. The outcome of the vote is largely irrelevant (rather like the electoral system in this country, ho hum – now there’s an issue that likely riles Ince and Legge’s mostly lefty, liberal audience, but the focus is on everyday complaints rather than the larger ills of society. We’re here to laugh, after all, not sob into our cardigan sleeves).

The two blood pressure botherers then talk about their heroes of anger. Ince gives a pitch-perfect performance of a Harlan Ellison rant from the documentary Dreams With Sharp Teeth, and Legge lectures with palpable delight on Italian artist Piero Manzoni and his escalating (and excremental) campaign to say F*** YOU to the sycophantic art world.

They aim to finish off with their top ten irritants, a list of constant annoyances and the new rages that each day brings, though over-running tends to cut this section short. These men have a hundred times the anger that can be squeezed into a mere hour, which I suspect is why they took this show to the Edinburgh Fringe where they could keep on shouting for a while longer. It’s a funny, frothing, hair-tearing, head-cradling, sweary show not for the easily offended or chilled and laid-back. I just fear that if the show went on for much longer, we’d be treated to a scene from Scanners as Legge and Ince’s building hypertension reaches critically explosive levels.


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