Leggoland is the comedic retelling of the story of Colin Leggo’s right leg: broken multiple times in his youth, rendered almost unusable for ten years of his adulthood, finally amputated last year, and now, as he puts it, ‘probably in a bin somewhere.’ Leggo’s narrative offers a personalised critique of both tabloid pre-occupation with different bodies, obsessively fetishising ‘abnormality’, and how we think about our connection to our own limbs.
As a comedian ‘always looking for the funny side’, Leggo has taken advantage of our society’s problematic fascination with the amputee, selling photos to coffee-table magazines under various ridiculous pseudo-stories. He tells Full House how his leg became infected after being ‘attacked by a drunk badger’ – double-page spread, and he pockets £150. We laugh at Leggo’s mockery of the tragic-disfigurement, sob-story trope, but his critique is more than just a comedian putting on a brave face for the sake of material. Leggoland genuinely works to frame Leggo’s story as a happy one, questioning stereotypical notions of disability. His damaged leg, requiring multiple operations, a painful Ilizarov frame, and hindering his career and social life for over a decade, rendered him far more ‘disabled’ than his present life as a below-the-knee amputee. There is no love lost between Colin and his leg, no long goodbyes: the most distress in his narrative comes from his operation being postponed three times.
Leggoland raises many questions about our relationships with our bodies; Leggo’s case, at least, does not fit easily within categories of ‘able-bodied’ and ‘disability’, as well as defying the idea of amputation as purely loss, rather than gain. (HM)
LEGGOLAND, Colin Leggo, The Blind Poet, until August 30th. Please contact venue for accessibility details.
More on Colin Leggo:
Jemima Kiss in The Guardian on how artificial limb technology is changing our relationship with amputeeism.
Oliver Sacks A Leg To Stand On offers a fascinating exploration of our sense of ‘ownership’ of our limbs, and his personal experience of losing that sense:
Stelarc, performance artist working with the ‘amplification’ of the body, inc. prosthetics, cyborgism, mechanisation and implant
Abnormally Funny People, group of comedians challenging perceptions of disability and ableist attitudes: