Steve Hughes: Heavy Metal Comedy

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Non-metalheads, relax. Despite the title, Steve Hughes is smart enough to realise that his pet topic would be far too arcane for an entire hour-long comedy show.

He’s aware that the name Heavy Metal Comedy will appeal to a certain small-but-hardcore demographic, but is also happy that his beloved music has not been embraced by the mainstream, stripped of its passion, and repackaged in the name of profit.

Hughes, you see, is no fan of anything corporate, a believer that the New World Order is nigh, with an all-powerful elite waiting to control our every action. He’s been accused of being a conspiracy theorist – no surprise there – but he prefers the term ‘conspiracy realist’.

He has a lot to say about the state of the world, about the slavishly unthinking attitude promoted by the mainstream media, about the profound spirituality of aboriginal peoples. His hour is peppered with philosophy, both bite-sized and deliberately elaborate. He’s keen to drop in obscure paragraphs about the likes of ‘non-duality’ just to show his erudition.

This may sound preachy, and in many ways it is, but Hughes is no ranter, instead dropping in his unconventional views in conspiratorial asides. Plus he can distil his views into specific examples that an audience can relate to. So when Simon Cowell is mocked, as so many comics do, it’s not just for being a high-trousered twat, but because he’s an embodiment of evil corporate greed.

The inherent superiority of his ‘I know something that you don’t know’ stance is tempered by making it accessible – and it’s helped by the fact that he speaks in measured, mesmerising tones, sometimes down to a whisper, and with an underplayed modesty Hughes is nothing if not self-aware, which is a good starting point if you profess to know all that’s wrong with the rest of the world.

This is all well and good, but is he actually funny? The answer’s yes. For much of the set his beliefs come second to a good story, or at least equal. And sometimes he sees meaning where there is none. A stupid stoner tale of releasing ice into the canals of Amsterdam is, apparently, ‘a joke about the illusions of boundaries’. No it’s not, it’s just a good joke.

Hughes attracted a lot of ill-informed flak for the things he said last year, which should be taken as a good sign that he’s an original thinker. But he does spend rather too much time defending himself against the charges and telling reviewers what they should be seeing in his routine (which I guess makes my job easier…)

Whether you agree with him or not, what you do see in this show is some very strong, funny stand-up, informed by his left-field, but at least original, views. Anything different from the norm should be celebrated, especially when it can make you chuckle like this…

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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