Belfast Telegraph

Johnny Vegas took over my life

Michael Pennington has said his alter ego Johnny Vegas took over his life with his drinking and brash nature.

The comedian has written a book about how he managed to find his own personality again and worked out how Johnny had managed to engulf him.

He said: "I wanted to try and trace the genuine origins of Johnny and how he so successfully staged this takeover of Michael Pennington.

"Johnny is a contradiction to who I am as a person. I'm not very good at confrontation, I have a tendency to internalise and to carry things around.

"Johnny was a coping mechanism who could take those things which could have ordinarily destroyed me, by tweaking my past and throwing it back out there, getting laughs from things that would have otherwise upset me."

Michael, who said he thought some of his insecurities stemmed from 18 months spent at a priest training college when he was 11, revealed his character's heavy drinking took its toll.

He said: "Johnny had a theory that if you ever counted how much you were drinking, you weren't enjoying it. He fortunately never kept track but he did have this ridiculous constitution. He could go on drinking for hours.

"I was ill a lot with nerves before going on. As Michael Pennington, I'd build up during the day, hoping I could coax Johnny out of his box."

The 42-year-old said the birth of his son helped him shake off Johnny: "It took me back to a time when I was really happy and I thought, 'My son doesn't deserve Johnny Vegas as a dad'. I didn't want him thinking that was the norm. It was the start of a hard battle."

:: Becoming Johnny Vegas is published by HarperCollins, priced £20. Available now.

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