Hughes may come across to some as paranoid, but he’s an enlightened, articulate and, most importantly, funny chap for whom years of life on the road, both as a musician and as a comedian, have given him an unintimidated view of society’s conventions and control mechanisms. As such, Hughes is able to deliver a healthy questioning of authority in all its guises: health and safety, state control, political correctness ( “oppression of our intellectual movements in case anyone gets offended”), drug laws, and the illusion of society’s members needing to constantly keep working or “the corporate satanic matrix” as he calls it.
Hughes has conviction, no doubt, and possesses a knockabout Australian charm that sets his audience at ease, but towards the end of his set veers into proselytising rather than comedy. Still, by that stage he’s made his audience laugh so much, perhaps he’s earnt the right to shout from the top of the mountain for a bit. Tthrough much of it, you couldn’t argue with him. He’s obviously thought it all through, no doubt over a few hundred bongs on countless dreary Sunday afternoons. It makes perfect sense, even to a crowd of Poms on a Friday night at Leicester Square theatre.
There’s some solid observational comedy in there as well, though. He’s not scared to take the piss out of his homeland (“Australia’s all about sport and racism – I didn’t know what to kick”), his heavy metal roots, the straightness of gay men (or the gayness of straight men) and last year’s riots (“Looting? Have you ever been to the British Museum?”). But you get the feeling Hughes is not scared to take the piss out of anything. And nor should he be. Or, as he will tell you, should anyone.
If you get the chance to see Hughes live, take it with both hands. He speaks with a clarity you don’t find in just any comedian, has great timing and doesn’t dumb it down. He’ll make you laugh and get you thinking, often at the same time.