Steve Hughes is known globally for embracing tensions and taking no prisoners.
Known as the "heavy metal comedian” for over 20 years, he has appeared on 'Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow' (UK), 'Live at the Apollo' (UK) and performed in nearly 30 countries to rave reviews.
At times confronting, but always guaranteed to be hilarious, it's time to welcome back to the Australian stage... Steve Hughes.
In the past you have cited Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy as some of your influences, how have they impacted your comedy over the years, particularly early on? Richard Pryor is to this day still one of the greatest stand-ups in my opinion. His honesty and ability to tell stories and bring to life his characters with such animation was always amazing to me. Eddie Murphy was not so much an influence but his early stand-up in the '80s we watched religiously. I loved his pure bravado. I had no inkling of even doing stand-up when I was watching these two and I don’t know if they have impacted me in any way towards doing it myself. It wasn’t till the mid-'90s I decided to do it myself. And that was influenced by the fact I was tired of the creative constrictions of being in bands and that I needed to do something creative were I had full control.
A common theme in your material over the years is just how much easier it is getting to offend general audiences, is there any hope for outspoken/no filter comedians in ten or so years? I have never done comedy with the objective to offend anyone. I have no control over what offends people. I also have no obligation to not offend them. In fact, I can’t offend them. They can only choose to be offended. But in this day and age were being a victim is becoming legislated and is making its way into law, will there be any room for no filter comedy in the future? Well my first DVD I released was called 'While It’s Still Legal'... So we will have to wait and see.
Where does the idea for the title 'Are You Serious?' come from originally? The title 'Are You Serious', comes from the social and political environment we all currently inhabit when it comes to people's outbursts and ridiculous entitled claims that somehow they have the right to be protected from every little thing in the world. That if their view points are not adhered to by everyone else then that person should be destroyed. It’s basically my absolute disbelief at what political correctness has done to people and the fact they have fallen for it.
What have been some of your best memories while performing in Australia? Well, I’ve performed overseas more than I’ve performed in Australia. But I guess what I enjoyed most recently was doing the Woodford Folk Festival at the beginning of this year and improvising my whole set in front of 800 people who absolutely pissed themselves. You don’t get that often.
Are there any other comedians in the industry that you believe have some really great material? I don’t watch much comedy these days. Unless it’s Bill Burr or Anthony Jesilik. But if it’s Australian comedians then I like Chris Wainhouse, Damien Power, Katie Burch, Nick Capper. If I’m honest I find most of it tepid and far too safe.
Do you still love your nickname as the 'heavy metal comedian'? Well, seeing as I played in heavy metal bands for a long time and my comedy like heavy metal suits the outsider and someone who thinks outside the box. It’s quite apt.
Do you miss your long hair from your heavy metal glory days or are you happy it’s gone? No I do not miss my long hair at all. I should have chopped it sooner. I look back at some old clips of me performing comedy and just go, 'Jesus Christ, Steve, you look as though you live in the woods'. Which is something I wouldn’t mind doing actually. And if the world keeps going the way it is, we may all be living in the woods.
Do you have a personal favourite Iron Maiden album? Of course I do. 'Number Of The Beast' is my all-time favourite Maiden album. Because it is the album that got me into metal with complete and utter allegiance. But the first five albums are my favourite Iron Maiden albums.
Out of your former band names Onslaught, Devastator and of course Slaughter Lord, which was your favourite and why? Onslaught was a good name for a thrash metal band, but then the British band of the same name appeared so we had to change it. Devastator is what we came up with after that. But I always knew it was crap. Then we came up with Slaughter Lord. Which I believe is one of the greatest metal band names ever. It suited us completely. The violence of Slaughter and the grand epicness of being a Lord. Perfect.
What are you hoping audience members take away from seeing your latest comedy set? I hope they take away a set of wet pants from pissing themselves stupid and a sore gut, because all the best laughter comes from the gut. It would also be great if they took away a copy of my new DVD release 'Nervous Breakthrough' which I have finally gotten finished and will be available.
Steve Hughes Tour Dates
2-3 May – Factory Theatre (Sydney Comedy Festival) 4 May – Brisbane Powerhouse 11 May – Regal Theatre (Perth Comedy Festival) 12 May – Arkaba Hotel (Adelaide) 18 May – Athenaeum Theatre (Melbourne)