Dave Hughes is Handy

Dave Hughes is HandyDave Hughes is funny on several levels, none of them deep. Hughes is like an anti-Wil Anderson. He’s the un-thinking man’s thinking comedian. Okay, so that doesn’t even make much sense. He’s just funny. His face is funny. His voice and inflections are funny. And his observational comedy is funny. Hughes isn’t making any profound, consciousness-raising, politically satirical observations. He observes, rather, that if you piss with the light off you’re likely to miss the toilet bowl. That if you’re an animal lover, the likelihood of finding a cat hair under your foreskin is quite high. See? VB funny, not Chardonnay funny.

Hughes – Hughsie, as both he and his fans call him – had the capacity crowd in the palm of his hand. They clearly adored him, and it’s not hard to see why. Hughes has the sort of larrikin charm that makes you grin as soon as he opens his mouth. He’s very quick off the mark with hecklers and the crowd loved the insults he threw at them throughout the show – most of which were promptly followed by a clever apology such as “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I panicked and went straight to the stereotype”.

This is a huge part of Hughes’ appeal. He’s become something of an Aussie icon and it was clear that the large crowd felt as if on some level Hughsie is their best mate. I’ve never seen an audience less afraid to heckle and interact with a performer before. And Hughes has an uncanny ability to make an entire show sound as if it’s all off the cuff. He interacts with hecklers, continuously asks questions of the first few rows and goes off onto tangents depending on what they say, and then has no problem finding his way back to his material again. It’s the mark of a seasoned and very comfortable performer. And it’s clear that behind the amiable banter and light-heartedness is some serious thought and hard work, and in that sense, I think Hughes is probably underestimated as an artist. It takes brains and flair to pull off the sort of casual ‘strine’ act that he does and still appeal to most people.

The sarcasm is unrelenting and no-one and nothing is immune: Eddie McGuire, Ian Thorpe, Grant Denyer, Michael Phelps, Jesus (the Jesus joke was in fairly poor taste and brought the house down), fat people, footballers, TV shows, the sanctity of marriage, brand names like Bunnings and KFC, all got their comeuppance. He observed that “...now there are ‘cooks’ at KFC - who the hell used to do it before, the f**kin cleaners?” And of Gordon Ramsey: “We’re not in a war, mate. You’re makin’ f**kin’ muffins. Calm the f**k down.”  In a brave and admirable (in the same way Christa McAuliffe jokes are admirable) move, he went out on a limb with his Josef Fritzel joke. In finding the comedy in tragedy he made you both laugh and feel bad about doing so all in a split second.

It’s funny stuff.

A Token Event
Dave Hughes is Handy

Venue: The Comedy Theatre | Cnr Exhibition & Lonsdale Sts, Melbourne
Dates: 14 - 26 April
Times: Tue - Fri 7pm, Sat 9pm. Sun 26 5pm
Duration: 70 minutes
Prices: Full $34.90, Conc (N/A Fri & Sat) $29.90
Bookings: Ticketek 132 849 | at the door

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