It seems comedy really is the best medicine, after a popular comedian from the Falmouth area used his talents to get him through a leg amputation.
He is a familiar face on the Cornish comedy scene, but behind the smiles Colin Leggo has been battling a more serious condition.
The maker of a series of popular online videos, including Youtube hits such as Grand Theft Cornwall and Planet Cornwall with Sir David Attenborough, has endured a long wait for a lower leg amputation, as the result of diabetes, and said it was his comedy that pulled him through it.
His projects had kept his spirits up over the last six months while he psychologically prepared himself for the operation.
Budock resident Colin, 35, who has suffered with diabetes for around ten years, is part of comedy partnership Colin and Rob and compèred at their comedy club in London before his condition worsened at the end of last year, and he decided he needed surgery.
He said: “From that came this sort of explosion of doing more comedy because I was told that I couldn’t walk on my foot as much as I had been, because I had another broken bone. I took a backseat from live comedy and sat on the sofa, and almost out of necessity I had to be creative from the sofa, and that’s where all the online comedy came about.
“I’ve had two life changing events in one – there’s this huge surgery, but also, waiting for that, just by having to sit down and do everything in a different medium I discovered different avenues of comedy; avenues I wouldn’t have [otherwise] continued on.”
Colin described the frustration of waiting for the operation, saying it was a very stressful time for him, and could be psychologically draining, being given dates that would then be postponed.
He said: “I almost managed to get in once or twice but due to lack of beds it’s been postponed, so that’s really frustrating. You psych yourself up and get ready only to be told on the day that there’s no bed. So that’s been really quite stressful.”
However, producing his videos and making people laugh meant he was able to keep his morale high.
“It does seem a bit of a cliché but I did find it was the best medicine because I had been faced with a huge life changing operation. I was offered counselling but if I immerse myself in making people laugh that makes me laugh and changes my outlook on the whole situation,” he said.
“I totally focus on having fun and making people have a good time along the way and that’s been absolutely crucial over these last six months because otherwise I would have gone crazy with waiting.
“It’s been a real tonic. It’s been better than anything I’ve been offered medically. I was making people laugh and I felt good about that.”
Colin first had problems with his foot in 2004, and had to have an amputation and reconstructive surgery, but he says from then on the foot was “always compromised.”
He said: “It got to a point where there kept being problems with it, structurally. Bones broke and bits messed up without any normal reason or trauma. I couldn’t go on like that.”
Last year he was still onstage at the comedy club, but he was having to use a wheelchair.
“In a show last year we had comedians on stage doing material, and I was on stage two feet from them sat in a wheelchair, and took the brunt of almost every joke.”
He decided to take more of an offstage role, taking on administrative duties, booking performers and doing promotional work.
“It seems drastic having an elective surgery but it was the only way so I could get on with performing comedy, on a leg that’s not mine, but is a working leg,” he explained.
Currently living in Budock, the village where his family is from, he said he is glad that the time away from performance comedy has given him new vistas to explore, and that while he experimented with online work before, it had “really picked up” since he has been forced to spend more time off the stage.
He said: “Having to wait has had so many positive things for me with the comedy.”
Colin will spend the next three weeks at Kings College Hospital in London, recovering from the amputation with rehabilitation and physiotherapy, and having a prosthetic leg prepared, but he already has his sights on his return to live performance. His target is a show at Events Square in Falmouth, which will take place on August 19.
He said: “It would be great to overcome this huge thing and do a nice gig, with nice people, in my hometown.”
See Colin’s latest video Cornish Speaking Sat Nav at thepacket.co.uk.