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Comedian Steve Hughes: ‘Don’t get all in a tizzy about things that aren’t that serious’

Steve Hughes is not what you’d call a ‘mainstream’ comedian, yet he has regularly sold out venues in his native Australia and over here for many years now, and has also appeared on popular television programmes such as Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, Live at the Apollo and Stand Up for the Week.

Steve, one of the most impressive stand-ups performing today, will be bringing his Back to the Front tour to Cambridge in July, a tour which includes nearly 40 dates covering England, Scotland and Ireland.

Steve Hughes. Picture: Steve Hughes / Big Laugh Boutique
Steve Hughes. Picture: Steve Hughes / Big Laugh Boutique

He spoke to the Cambridge Independent from the Isle of Wight, the day before he was due to fly from Southampton to Dublin to begin the lengthy run.

What can we expect when the tour rolls into Cambridge, a city he last performed in in 2021?

“Good comedy,” replies Steve, who started out as a drummer in thrash metal bands including Mortal Sin and Slaughter Lord. “It’ll be simple. I’ve done this a long time – I’m pretty good at it.

“It’s a strange world to discuss comedy these days, isn’t it? It used to be very simple, like these guys come and tell some jokes, we’re all going to have a good time, some of us will like it, some of us won’t, we’ll all go home and get on with our lives. Who knows what’s going down [nowadays]?

“But I’ve got lots of material, tons of stuff, so I hope people like a long show. I’m trying to get it down to an hour and 15 but if the crowd’s great, I never seem to manage it, if I don’t have to finish at a certain time.

“So you’ll get value for money, I’ll tell you that.”

He adds: “I like doing my shows because people come and know what they’re going to get. The comedy scene is not the same anymore, not that I’m really involved in it – I can just tell.

“Britain used to be the greatest comedy country in the world, it’s really funny watching the English kind of ‘outlaw’ comedy!

“We’re living in an insane world where reality doesn’t really matter, and some individual’s feelings are the greatest issue in the entire world.

“It’s just a ludicrous thing for people who can’t see it, it’s very frustrating to talk to them because they just can’t see reality, they can’t see hypocrisy…

“I started talking about this over 10 years ago, just when they called out this PC stuff and saying you could offend people, hate speech and all this.

“To me that was a red flag right there – you can’t prove you’re offended, you can’t prove that you’re upset.”

Steve, who believes that these stricter regulations on what a comedian can and can’t say on stage started coming in in around 2014, continues: “I find it strange that people even go onto social media and write a bad review if they went to a restaurant...

“If I go somewhere and it didn’t work out the way I liked, I just don’t go back and I just get on with my life.

“It doesn’t cross my mind to tell the whole world! I don’t need to be a thorn in this guy’s side.”

When it comes to people who may feel they’re ‘offended’ by a particular comic, Steve offers this advice: “Don’t go and get yourself all in a tizzy about things that aren’t that serious.

“It’s your own self-protection; to laugh at pain and to laugh at tragedy, to me, is an inherent safety valve of the human psyche.

“And it doesn’t mean to laugh maliciously, like ‘someone murdered your daughter, that’s hilarious’, no, that’s sick. We know that, though, because we’re not insane.

“But to just think that being able to laugh at tragedy or despair is not important… as Lemmy from Motörhead said: ‘If you don’t have a sense of humour about yourself, you’re in serious trouble’.

“Why are people in Belfast such a great audience? Because they’ve been through a lot.”

Steve, an admirer of fellow Aussie comics Chris Wainhouse and his wife Katie Wainhouse, says that some of those who wish to control stand-up comedy come out with things like: “‘Ah, these comedians are upset saying that the woke’s ruined comedy just because they can’t go up there now and spread their racist, sexist material’.

“And some say ‘Which comedians are you talking about? What material are you talking about?’ because I’ve been doing this 25 years, I’ve seen a lot of comedians and been in a lot of scenes, and that is no-one’s career strategy: ‘I’m going to go up there and espouse my ignorance and do really horrible jokes to upset people in the audience, maybe that’ll get me more gigs?!’

“That was no-one’s strategy I ever saw, so I don’t know what jokes they’re talking about. ‘These comedians get to go up there...’ Which comedians are you talking about? The problem is that anything offends them so they think it’s all comedians.

“So they have to keep on trying to convince me that this was all going on, but it wasn’t going on so I can’t join in on a lie.”

The affable, outgoing and very talkative comic adds: “Back in the day, if someone complained at a comedy club in England and had a go at the manager, they used to go ‘It’s a comedy club, mate, get over it’.

“Now if someone complains, they fall on bended knee, beg for forgiveness, give them their money back, run into the dressing room to find out who said said joke and then sack them!”

[Read more: ‘I haven’t watched TV since 1987’: interview with Australian comedian Steve Hughes, Comedian Leo Kearse: ‘You’ll see more exciting stuff in the clubs than you will on the BBC’]

Topics Steve has previously addressed in his comedy include boy bands, health and safety, climate change, Greta Thunberg, political correctness, corporatism, feminism, and Doctor Who.

Bold, insightful, unapologetic and, most importantly, hilariously funny, Steve – a ‘conspiracy realist’ – will be performing at BrewDog, Cambridge, on Monday, 8 July.

Tickets, priced £19.25, are available from bit.ly/4dZ0fWl. For more on Steve, go to stevehughes.net.

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