Dave Hughes is a huge presence on the Australian comedy landscape. Having spent over 20 years performing on stages across Australia, Hughesy, as he is affectionately called, has built a large following thanks to his larrikin charm and hilarious autobiographical stories delivered in his distinctive nasal drawl.
After co-hosting ABC programme ‘The Glasshouse’, Hughesy has been injecting his laid-back personality into Australian television across two decades; making Australian viewers laugh, including those who have grown up with him on their screen. “I was on a plane around [schoolies time] last year, and there were a heap of schoolies on the plane yelling at me. And the flight attendant came and said, 'I’ll move you to business class'. I said, ‘can they come on the next flight, 'cause this is a great deal for me.’”
Having spent five days a week on ‘The Project’ from 2009, Hughesy found he didn’t have enough time to perform. He left the show in 2013 in order to return to touring with his first show in four years, ‘Pumped’. “’Pumped’ was what I was saying at the time, and I’ve mellowed a bit. I’ve gone from being so excited that I’m pumped, to being just sweet. I now say ‘sweet’ a lot... I think it’s because I’m trying to look at everything in a positive fashion. Everything’s sweet if it doesn’t give you diabetes. Eventually, I’ll have a show called ‘Dead’, but I won’t be there to do it.”
While he spent a number of years discussing current affairs during his time on ‘The Project’, Hughesy promises his new show will be less serious than the news. Instead it will be filled with hilarious stories based on the mishaps in his life, along with some off-the-cuff observations, as Hughesy is known for. “[‘Sweet’] is a continuation [of ‘Pumped’] – my stand-up sort of roles on, to be honest. It’s just wherever I’m at in my life and what I see going on around me. So, it’s hard to say too much about it, I suppose. Generally, I’ll joke about whatever’s happening at that time in my life.”
More recently, Hughesy has been busy as the new host of ‘Australia’s Got Talent’, but he is looking forward to touring ‘Sweet’. “I absolutely love The Garden (of Unearthly Delights at Adelaide Fringe) – I’ve done the last two shows there. Two years ago, I fell in love with that bloody Garden. It’s noisy in The Garden, but it’s a real carnival atmosphere. Straight after Adelaide I’ve got the Melbourne Comedy Festival. So, I’ll go from being in a tent in The Garden to the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne, which is so quiet. It’s weird, going from ferris wheels and bloody whips cracking to a quiet theatre. It’s the best time of my year.”
While it is odd Hughesy should leave ‘The Project’ to focus on stand-up, only to return to screens hosting ‘Australia’s Got Talent’, he explained, “'Australia’s Got Talent’ is just one week of auditions, and another few weeks later in the year, so it’s a small amount of time. While ‘The Project’ was the news, with us having meetings and discussing the problems of the world every single day.”
Reporting the news everyday can be a stressful process, but Hughesy has been drawing upon his past role to help with his hosting duties. “While I’ve been [hosting ‘Australia’s Got Talent’], I’ve seen close to 200 acts. As the host, I lead them on to the stage and then talk to them afterwards; sometimes after the judges have said some nasty things about them. We had a pyro guy who had explosives, and none of the judges liked him. So, I had to convince him not to blow up the building.”
Having been a comedian for over 20 years, Hughsey has definitely learnt quite a bit about the business. He looks back at his beginnings in comedy with fondness, even though he was working for the dole for the first five years of his career and proclaiming he was “sponsored by Centrelink”.
Hughsey offered some advice for aspiring comedians. “Just go for it! You’ve got nothing to lose. The bad gigs are actually good for you, because you’ll learn from them. If you’re sitting in front of the TV tonight, you’re not winning there. If you want to do comedy, get up on stage and go for it."
TOUR DATESFri 12 – Sun 28 February – The Garden of Unearthly Delights (Adelaide Fringe Festival)
Thurs 24 March – Sun 17 April – The Athenaeum Theatre (Melbourne International Comedy Festival)
Sun 29 April – Enmore Theatre (Sydney Comedy Festival)