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“Australia is not as good at sport anymore because their culture has changed,” he argues of his native land.

“It used to be a very isolated country before the internet and globalisation. When I grew up it was all about sport [one of his early routines involves him joking about an equal love for death metal and cookery at the expense of team activities].

"But now the country has changed and, through the influence of the US, it’s becoming a police state.

“You can’t push fascist agendas in Europe, because they’ve seen it all before. But in Australia, especially white Australia where no one’s been oppressed, they’re laying these oppressive ideals on people.

"They have an anti-jaywalking campaign called Operation Disobedience! (TNT assumes this is a gag, as we’re not sure any such campaign exists). I’d like to see them try that name in France!”

Anything else Down Under that irates? Yep. “They’ve become more superficial and shallow. They’re all going: ‘We’re not worried about being racist anymore we just care how much cash you’ve got!’”

Whether it’s the impending onset of global conflict and our future subservience or the changing attitudes of his homeland, Hughes is equally irked by the little things and refuses to be constrained by popular logic.

“They say that 64 per cent of Australians are obese now – are you kidding me? Those cunts can’t stop running around in the sun! All they do is get ‘experts’ to come in and redefine what obese is. It is all crap to take control.”

As heavy as this sounds, his ‘fight the power’ routine is peppered with observations of contemporary life he simply views as sensible – juxtaposing prejudices and ignorances with an honest view of the world and its people. How it is versus how it should be. And he stands by every word.

But far from being an anger-driven comic, he is just as much a campaigner for a future in which we all live in peace and harmony, where man is good to man, and above all, good times run riot.

More than that, despite his perceivably preachy theorising, he is also very, very funny indeed.

A natural on the stage, there’s little difference between stage Steve and off-stage Steve – and he has a roaring laugh.

The black-clad former Slaughter Lord thrash metal drummer is also full of surprises, whether it be with a tangent in his shows’ breathless narrative or with his side projects.

He’s certainly the last person you’d expect to find voicing an animated character.

“We’ve had this little demon character for years now, a spawn of Satan little thing,” he says of his voice role in a Sydney animator friend’s in-development movie.

“We even have a pop song that we wrote for the boy band in the film!”

Despite being unapologetically one-minded in his views, Hughes is not short of self-awareness.

If I thought all the time about the things that I think about the future, I’d wind up in my fucking room reading Nietzsche with the windows blacked out,” he says. Full-on can’t be full-time.

“I met this great artist recently in Finland [while on tour], who was actually really excited about living in these times.

"He thought about our consciousness expanding and people being allowed to be who and what they were, so it all depends on your viewpoint.” So what’s yours?

Big Issues  Leicester Square Theatre, WC2H 7BX.
December 6
& 7. £14 
Tube | Leicester Square

Photos: Getty, Zakarij Kaczmarek


Interview: Aussie comedian Steve Hughes discusses his re-tooled Big Issues show and why he's just as irked as ever
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