Sean Hughes (3 stars)

This article is from 2009

Sean Hughes

Sex, anti-depressants and rock’n’roll

Sean Hughes must have wailed with delight when he learned that The Chippendales would be taking to the Debating Hall stage straight after him during his short run of What I Meant to Say Was … . Sex has always been a big theme for the Dubliner and here he gets ripped into it from all angles. Although it’s gratifying that he wants to give us more of himself (the show eventually runs to 80 minutes), the overall experience would have benefited with a tighter, more stripped-down affair (yes, like the one that is to follow him). Not a fan of the 24-hour news media – there’s only about three minutes of real news produced every day, he reckons – Hughes zips through the main headlines of the last couple of months (Libya versus Compassionate Scotland, swine flu, Michael Jackson) with a pleasingly cynical eye.

In his own life, big changes have also occurred: he’s quit smoking but gained a ‘fat face’. Now in his 40s, the only drugs he gets offered these days are anti-depressants, but he’s keeping his own flame burning with an enduring love of music. Hughes delivers his show in a couple of tones, mainly a high-pitched incredulity with the world’s various nonsenses, and a sighing resignation at the lack of fist-punching hilarity going on in the room.

While he is clearly keen to keep the spirit of his good pal Bill Hicks alive with his outraged material about safe comedians, vapid DJs and religious dogma, you have to wonder quite how the dead Texan would have reacted to news that Hughes is pocketing cash for a small roles in a forthcoming Miss Marple drama (it seems unclear yet whether is accepting the offer of the Christmas Casualty special). And all this comes just a moment or two after he has slaughtered Stephen Fry for the endless stream of ad campaigns to which he lends his fruity vocals. While occasionally over-indulgent (the majority of the room probably don’t really care that he won the Perrier back in the Stone Age), Hughes is still a vibrant comic who has lines to kill for and a presence to match.

Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 30 Aug (not 27), 8.30pm, £14 (£13).

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

  • 3 stars

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).