Remember what the world used to be like before we confused everyone with too many options and made everything so politically correct? Australian born, British-based comedian Steve Hughes certainly does – it feels like he’s been recently revived from a time capsule interred 20 years ago in order to delightfully denigrate various methods of ‘oppression by stealth’ in this marvellous comedy show.
In Big Issues, Hughes attacks the gaudy world of reality television and the histrionic health and safety laws that dictate that you cannot open a hotel window in case you try to kill yourself – even if your room is on the ground floor. There is something comforting and cathartic in knowing that you’re not the only one who feels this way about the world we’re living in, though you may not agree with everything he has to say.
Hughes’ comedy is not forced and he has no gimmicks – what you see is what you get, and if you don’t like it, that’s your choice – a world view defined as “simplified Buddhism” by Hughes himself in this challenging but comfortable show. His momentum impresses – I could have listened to him for hours, and indeed on this particular night he went well over time, talking for an hour and 25 minutes, which nobody save the hall staff seemed to have any objections to.
Seeing Steve Hughes perform is an unusual spectacle, for many reasons. Every third member of the audience were dressed like rockers or metal-heads, a distinctive change to the usual crowds clustered outside the Melbourne Town Hall during the Comedy Festival. Once Hughes took to the stage he admitted to being very jet lagged – which may stifle other performers, but it did not diminish Hughes at all: it merely merged into his story telling. As a performer, Hughes is supremely comfortable on stage; his gigs feel more like you’re sitting in an intimate pub setting listening to a metal-loving bloke give his hilarious opinions on the embarrassing follies of the Generation Y era, including such topics as war, religion, and how we treat the poor.
At the end of the day, you need to be able to enjoy being in the same room as the comedian who is speaking to you, and at this show at least, the audience truly enjoyed Hughes’ company. While you could tell that some jokes offended some people, Hughes was also making people stop and think about how things are ‘sold’ to us and why – quite frankly – we should be challenging the world as much as he is.
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Steve Hughes – Big Issues
Melbourne Town Hall, Main Hall
April 19 – 21
Melbourne International Comedy Festival
March 28 – April 22
Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Sydney Comedy Festival
April 24 - May 12
The Astor, Perth
Perth International Comedy Festival
May 2 - 20