Sean Hughes: Giving up and giving in

This article is from 2009

Sean Hughes: Giving up and giving in

The comic talks adverts, anti-depressants and acting your age

When former Perrier winner Sean Hughes was last in town he lit up The Gilded Balloon, in the right way, allowing the audience to forget a torrential downpour outside. The only damp squib of the evening inside was the enforced sing-a-long to a Waterboys record. I remember mentioning it in a piece I wrote and so, it turns out, does Hughes. ‘Yes, you hated it, didn’t you? I changed it, but not because of you though!’ Hughes is in a generally jovial mood, despite the fact that he says that, these days, he hates leaving the house to perform (though he still loves performing) and that while in Edinburgh he expects to get swine flu.

The 43-year-old can at least take some comfort from the fact that he has recently given up smoking. ‘I gave up last year which was a huge thing as I was a 60-a-dayer. I used the drug called Champix, an anti-depressant that has been banned in Australia and America because it was linked to suicide. I can understand why.’ The rather drastic ‘no pain, no gain’ scenario that Hughes describes has been worth it, but only just. ‘The sad thing about quitting smoking is you don’t feel any better off even though you are. I realised I can smell my own armpits now, which isn’t really a bonus.’

Not only has the smoking gone but Hughes is much less likely to go out drinking than he was ‘back in the day’ and facing up to one’s limits is a theme that has come through in Hughes’ latest show. ‘It looks at what age you start “giving up” and also at the ways in which you are let down.’ One of the ways in which Hughes says he feels let down is by comedians who appear in adverts. ‘I find it quite depressing and I can’t think of Stephen Fry as a national treasure when he’s selling anything from tea to insurance.’

As for Hughes’ own on-screen appearances he feels that he’s worn the t-shirt when it comes to panel shows and tires of the whims of TV execs. Nonetheless, he will be appearing in the film version of Tony Hawks’ Round Ireland With a Fridge and he’ll next be on TV in a Miss Marple story. ‘That really shows my age doesn’t it? I’m not playing her though.’

Sean Hughes, Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, 22–30 Aug (not 27), 8.30pm, £12–£14 (£11–£13).

Sean Hughes: What I Meant To Say Was ...

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A brand new show from the Perrier award-winner. High-calibre comedy - dark, explosive, sardonic. Eight shows only. 'Hugely impressive and intelligent' (Time Out). 'One of the best stand-ups of his generation' (Daily Telegraph).