Or, is it the other way round? The man we saw on stage was not the one we’ve all come to know and love in the world of comedy – here was the real man, Michael Pennington, his soul laid bare both here and in his autobiography Becoming Johnny Vegas. Michael began by talking about his time at Seminary school where he believed the priesthood was his future. Achingly homesick, he fought against the institution which resented individuality, he soon realised how priests were in fact fallible and human, they didn’t have all the answers. He touched on the unspoken abuse that occurred, and how torn he was because he felt he was representing the sensibilities of the community he had left back home.
Peter Florence’s questions were, as usual, intelligent and sensitive – for here was a man who battled for many years with the demons of his alter ego, Johnny Vegas. We were left with a clear indication of what Peter called ‘a kind of quasi schizophrenia’ which existed in his life, as Vegas took over and took to the stage, disregarding the carefully written stand up routine. Even Pennington struggled to explain the juxtaposition between him and Vegas at times. Maybe it was a subliminal reaction to what was going on around him at the time, he wondered.
Now, it seems that Vegas had been locked into a small suitcase, maybe never to return. Michael Pennington has found strength in his new family and success with acting, directing and writing.