Addiction is no laughing matter, but we all know that people in the throes of addiction can do some pretty funny things. It's this angle that Simon Hughes taps into in his show, Man vs Meth, which is ironically hosted in the seedy basement of a Kings Street nightclub.
With a raw, hectic style but gifted feel for how to work an audience, he relates the crazy days – and nights – of his former ice addiction, how ‘calming’ marijuana makes him psychotic, and how he got so low, living in a garage in suburban Melbourne, that even his dealer’s debt collectors left him alone: “They saw how I was living and figured they couldn’t make my life any worse than it already was.”
What is sad is that some of the audience seem to be there to have their own habits vindicated by his riotous tales and anecdotes – yeah it's all hysterical until you want to stop.
The good news is that Simon has clambered his way out of his deep hole, slipping back in a few times, but finally getting clear and still retaining enough humour and brain power – plus his own teeth – to make a joke of it now that he has the benefit of hindsight.
He's a natural raconteur and you can imagine that he would have been hysterical company zonked out of his brain telling silly stories, seeing the freaky side of trippy situations and playing the fool, but the slide show from his former life pulls no punches about how close he came to No Return. Anyone suffering the collateral damage of addiction looking for a positive message will probably enjoy this show for that alone.
Festival heads looking for some laughs they can relate to – probably about half of the crowd the night I went – will recognise the bizarre and brilliantly warped thinking that causes otherwise sane people to end up upside down in a barbed wire fence covered in shit. If that's too close to home for you or plain way out there alien, you might find the show a bit uncomfortable.
It’s not easy listening (and there are several references you may not get if you haven’t been part of the drug scene in the past 10-15 years) but it’s a brave performance from someone’s whose former thinking was “if you just have a little bit it’s not a relapse”.
Bravo, Hughesy #2.
Kings of Comedy present
Man vs Meth
Venue: Ladida, corner Lt Bourke and Kings streets
Dates: Until 22 April 2017
Tickets: $20 – $15