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The Aussie heavy metaller-turned-stand-up touring his show Big Issues round the UK on his musical influences, legalising weed and why Australians either laugh from their balls or sit in silence at comedy shows.

So what is the show Big Issues about?
It will be opinionated and hilarious! Some might call it controversial but that’s not its intention. I talk about god, because he is very misunderstood these days, and about satan and his associates, working in the economic matrix that has octopused around the world. And there’ll be a few cock jokes too!

How does Australian and UK humour differ?
It is not that different. Comedy is universal; all cultures laugh!

Are there differences across the UK?
The north of England is more conservative than London, they think they’re more rowdy but they are more conservative. London is a big city where debauchery becomes acceptable. But I like making Australians laugh cos they laugh from their balls. They don’t pretend to laugh, they don’t chuckle – they fucking laugh! And if they don’t like it, then they don’t make a noise at all.

Do you get nights where the audience is quiet?
At some gigs you may not be getting as big a laugh as usual and you think ‘this crowd doesn’t like it’. Then you realise people in different places enjoy themselves differently. In New Zealand you think you are dying on your arse and then, at the end, they go, ‘that was the greatest!’

You toured with Reginald D. Hunter last year – how was it?
He’s very competitive. He is an American and an ex-high school footballer. He told me he liked the fact I am not particularly competitive, but that I was good enough for him to be competitive with.

What made you decide to settle in Manchester, rather than London?
I lived in London for a couple of years but it was always too expensive and small and crap and then someone said ‘you should check out Manchester’. In London, you live in a box, whereas in Manchester, I have a top-floor apartment in the city centre. I can live there and not feel far away from London – it’s only 180 miles – fuck all!

Is being a stand-up quite a solitary job?
A lot of people can’t be by themselves, but I can; I have shit to do – play guitar, the gym, write comedy, read books. I can sit around by myself, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. 

How has your writing process changed?
You’ll hear comedians or artists say they wait for inspiration but that’s bullshit, inspiration comes when you start. Jimmy Carr writes a lot of jokes – do you think he sits around meditating, waiting for god to give him that shit?

Why change from music to comedy?
I had been in bands for years and I loved it, and they were fairly good bands – we made albums and stuff. It was totally my life. I began toying with comedy – it was a way to be creative. I always loved comedy growing up – Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby records, and spoken word albums by Jello Biafra [The Dead Kennedys] and Henry Rollins. I wanted to get out of Australia and it is difficult to do that in bands, but comedy was something I could do alone.

Would you ever go back?
I ponder that all the time. In Australia there is no structure for comedy; the establishment is not interested in art. It’s all about sport
and the outdoors lifestyle. But it’s not the people, because if you give it to them they piss themselves. Australia is corporate-as-fuck and sport-orientated and doesn’t care about art because art requires internalised thinking about your nature, your culture and your existence. They live on stolen land marred with genocide, and they don’t want to bring that to the forefront of the consciousness because it’ll ruin their patriotic, sports-orientated, macho bullshit.

What do you listen to these days?
A lot of heavy metal. I was in the first thrash metal band in Australia [Slaughter Lord] in the Eighties, but I can listen to anything from full-blown, ugly, nihilistic black metal to Enya. Anything is possible with music – it is the language of god!

Still think cannabis should be legalised?
Instead of just saying ‘yes, it should be legalised’, we should be asking: ‘Who the fuck said we couldn’t smoke it in the first place?’ It’s a plant that grows on the planet that I was born on, and somehow you have got the right to tell me, about a bush that you have no claim to, that I can’t go in there and put it in me!

Steve Hughes: Big Issues is on at Leicester Square Theatre Feb 3 & 4 and Apr 5 & 6.
6 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BX
Web: leicestersquaretheatre.com
Station: Leicester Square






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Interview: Steve Hughes on heavy metal, weed and laughing from your balls
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