Having sold out venues all over the east coast, metal-loving madman Steve Hughes brings his new show, While It’s Still Legal, to The Astor Theatre on Saturday, May 17, as part of the Perth International Comedy Festival. We caught up with him in the middle of what appears to be a profound change in consciousness.
Steve Hughes ums. He ahs. Seconds drag on before he finally growls out an answer to the question of what he’s been up to lately: “…a whole bunch of nothing.” And he laughs.
That’s not exactly true though. He’s currently performing a new show, one born out of a period of deep navel-gazing that took place after his extensive – and hugely successful, it must be noted – recent UK tour. But despite overwhelmingly positive responses from critics and audiences alike, Hughes felt that it was time for a change in focus.
“I guess this is the first show where I’m moving into perhaps the realisation that continually banging on about the establishment and what they’re up to in a negative way in the world is perhaps becoming a little bit tiring.” he explains. “I think I’ve come to the epiphany of how long can you rail against the establishment before you begin to perpetuate the very thing you purport to be against.”
It’s all bit Nietzschean, but Hughes has spent a very long time staring into the abyss. Since beginning his comedy career in the mid ‘90s, he’s specialised in railing against inequality, hypocrisy and injustice, tirelessly stoking his own internal rage-fire. It’s little wonder that the last tour left him spent and, by the sound of it, more than a little lost. “I was coming to the end of a fur year tour and I was getting exhausted. Basically what I’ve been doing for the past four months is coming down off touring for four years which led to these realisations through my own, proper, deep, psychological, spiritual exhaustedness. So these new shows in Australia are moving more towards different ideas.
“I started to realise that I was getting angrier and angrier and what’s the point of projecting anger?” he asks rhetorically. “One, it doesn’t do yourself any good and I don’t think it does the ideas any good – they don’t seem to be very revolutionary ideas, to continually rally against what is instead of trying to enlighten yourself as to what you could be. I started to investigate more spiritual ideas in the sense of what this big global breakdown seems to be instead of just us vs. them – whoever ‘they’ are. So I’ve started to investigate what indigenous people have been telling us for years, which is that we’re moving into a transition of consciousness, more than likely, and you can’t keep destroying the world because you have to understand that are the world and that you are effectively killing yourself if you keep perpetuating these ideas.”
So far, audiences have plugged into the new Hughes, which he admits is at least somewhat surprising. “It’s an interesting idea, trying to make comedy about this stuff because, as much as the world likes peace and love, we’re probably more excited by violence and catastrophe, because it’s far more romantic and exciting. After this tour, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I may just stop for a bit and… ponder.”
And he laughs.