Steve Hughes: Storm
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2006
Bush and Blair say God will judge them. Why Wait?
Aussie Steve returns
to Edinburgh with another hour of satirical comedy.
If a towering heavy metal fan with scraggly hair sidled up to you on the bus and started sharing his theories about the New World Order, the afterlife and how the Sky News ticker is conditioning our thinking, you'd probably hop off at the next stop, leaving him to get back to lining his baseball cap with aluminium foil so the FBI can't steal his brainwaves.
But although Australian Steve Hughes's theories are beyond the fringes of mainstream thinking, he's charismatic, intelligent and funny enough not only to keep you listening, but also to persuade you that he might just have a point.
The signs aren't all that good from the start, when a noisy audio montage, in which the sound of American schoolchildren robotically chanting the pledge of allegiance is crudely spliced with Hitler's Nuremberg rallies. Hmmm. Clever point.
Thankfully, his actual material is a lot more subtle than that. First, he gains our confidence with some inoffensive banter on national stereotypes, of the type, but superior to, what you hear in comedy clubs every night of the week. But all the while he's confessing that he's only buttering us up for the more tough-to-digest politics later on.
Even with this section, he starts with material that it's hard for any middle-of-the-road liberal to disagree with: the shameful treatment of the Australian aboriginals or the fact that his government's slavish devotion to the US mean they've needlessly collected enemies thousands of miles away.
But gradually he pushes the envelope more and more, imploring us to question what we're told, to be aware of the language of propaganda, to see how a Western industrial-military complex might benefit from the subjugation of its citizens and a never-ending holy war with Islam. His argument is not that a lumbering America was stupid to attack Iraq and Afghanistan and so provoke more terrorists, but that's exactly what the Pentagon intended in the first place. It's an audacious new take on the America-bashing so prevalent among left-leaning comics, bringing new angles to this deservedly well-covered and important topic.
Some jokes aren't jokes, but political statements. Other get claps as much laughs the audience consciously applauding the sentiment behind them rather than making the involuntary reaction of laughter. But most are very funny, and recognised as such.
Hughes occasionally turns back into safer comedic territory, with largely inoffensive material about Nazi documentaries or sharks, to get the audience back on side. But it's only a skilful detraction to buy him more time to expose his world view, damning America's far right, the blatant erosion of our freedoms or the highly visible signal of US intent that is Guantanamo Bay.
This is exactly what political comedy should be intelligent,
provocative, profound, and topped off with good, solid gags.
See him while it's still legal.
Chris Shotton - 26/08/2006
Went to see Hughes for the second time last night in his Edinburgh show 'Storm' and after his amazing show 'Wake Up', by far my favourite show of the 2005 Fringe I was expecting a lot. I got what I came for, a fucking hilarious show with some very interesting insight into the world and modern politics which seemed to put off a lot of the audience but always came with a brilliant punchline.Hughe's may not be to everyones taste but definately worth seeing at least once as you either love him or hate him. One of, if not the best act at the fringe once again.
Andy F - 20/08/2006
Perceptive and well delivered. Similiar in style to the late great Mr Hicks. Best I saw at the festival.
Debbe - 20/08/2006
Saw him at the Fringe this year (2006) and sorry I wasted my money. He had a few good lines thoughout the evening - started well, then moved into a political lecture. Sorry Steve, but I paid for entertainment!! I won't waste my money a 2nd time to see him
Lookingforlaffs - 04/08/2006
After seeing Steve on TV a couple of times and enjoying him, I booked tickets to see his show at the Pleasance . What a disappointment! A comedy show with no discernible comedy. He gave his politics a good airing - I don't mind that, most of his political viewpoint I wholeheartedly agreed with - but no identifiable jokes. A comedy free zone for an hour.the only people laughing in the room seemed to be his fellow Australians - what at, I'll never know; their hollow laughter appeared to ring out at the most inappropriate moments.Diabolically bad. Itjust shows how misleading a four-minute appearance on TV can be
John McKelvie - 04/08/2006
A truly boring individual who spoke for 60 out of 65 mins on war issues and was not funny in the process. Failed to handle a heckler who had the temerity to profer an opposite view to him. Once bitten twice shy I am afraid.