Charmian Hughes: When Comedy was Alternative (The Laughs and Loves of a She-Comic) (3 stars)

This article is from 2015

Charmian Hughes: When Comedy was Alternative (The Laughs and Loves of a She-Comic)

A stripped-back and delightful tale of alternative comedy’s heyday

Having been brought up in what she describes as a right-wing, middle-class family, Charmian Hughes always felt like an outsider. As a result, she rebelled and immersed herself in an adoptive fraternity of alternative comedians. Unperturbed by a sound failure from the start, Hughes dispenses with her microphone and launches into a meandering but passionate, stripped-back autobiographical show. Nostalgic for the days when alternative comedy represented a counter to successive Conservative governments, Hughes details her exploits in the 80s and 90s.

Picking out tales in vaguely chronological order, it's clear that Hughes has a wealth of stories from which to draw. She spent some time learning to be a clown, performed comedy at Glastonbury, and unsuccessfully attempted to seduce a number of her contemporaries, including the legendary Malcolm Hardee (although goodness knows why, considering her lurid recollections of the man).

Hughes is an endearingly scatty performer, frequently veering off-course before admonishing herself and getting back on topic. Her stories have a habit of wandering in search of punchlines that never come, but she has some delightful one-liners up her sleeve.

Banshee Labyrinth, 226 0000, until 30 Aug (not 17), 3.10pm, free.

Charmian Hughes: When Comedy Was Alternative (The Laughs and Loves of a She-Comic)

  • 3 stars

Charmian Hughes / PBH's Free Fringe Izzard, Brand, Hardee – Charmian’s had hot steaming cuppas with them all! Tales of the notorious Tunnel Club, Frank Skinner’s avocado, Arnold Brown’s sandwiches, Glastonbury and her doomed love affair with Tinky Winky. Special ghosts! ‘Best gags’ (Independent). ‘Humour darker than a bar…