Sean Hughes gets serious about comedy
You’re keeping busy at Edinburgh this year with not one, but two shows!
One of them is a narrative about death and that’s about my dad dying, but it’s very much a feel-good show. I want people to go out with smiles on their faces, and I think that’s quite an achievement when it’s a show about death.
Do we not talk about death enough?
In coffee shops and pubs I still think they should be talking about David Beckham. We shouldn’t be talking about death per se, we should be talking about the fact that we will die – and the amount of time we waste. My attitude now is, savour every day.
Apart from talking to me, how will you savour this day?
I’m going to meet two friends, do a little work.
And your other show?
Just straightforward stand up. I say straightforward… For some reason the things that happened to me when I was nine seem very prevalent to me at the moment. For a start, I fell for the Bay City Rollers.
Also, I wanted to be the Six Million Dollar Man. Obviously these things ended up being a lot more significant in my life than I ever thought they would be.
Do you have a secret life as a boyband member we don’t know about?
No. It’s just about my love of a boyband.
Is that not worse? Shang-A-Lang is a good song, but music like that is parasitic. Like Justin Bieber today, the music brainwashes children somehow.
That’s exactly what I talk about with the Bay City Rollers. I innocently listened to Bye Bye Baby but it was a lot more evil than I thought when you look at the lyrics.
Why, what’s it really about?
They’re 17-year-old boys talking about being trapped in marriages. It makes very little sense to a 17-year-old.
Why are you not on an advert selling insurance?
I never do ads. Once you do an ad you pretty much know you’re a gun for hire. I’m not gonna sideswipe at people who do it because I’ve no right to tell them how to live their lives, but personally I find it despicable.
It must be good that stand-up comedy is getting a lot more exposure on television.
It’s not good. Stand-up comedy on television has absolutely nothing to do with what comedy’s like live. A lot of people who go to stadium shows have never been to comedy before so they don’t know what they’re missing. It’s more of an event really. You want to say, 'Oh I went to see such and such a person.' There’s gonna be no thoughts or ideas in any of those shows. Even when I was young I wouldn’t mind going through a few more emotions, I wanted a little more than a laugh in life.
That kind of comedy doesn’t work as well on TV.
Comedy is such a weird word. People say they like comedy but it’s like saying I like music. You’re going to like certain types of music. I don’t want to be trite about it, but stand-up on television is like a buffet, you just get a bit of everything, while I’d rather pick something I like and have that.
Why did you leave Never Mind the Buzzcocks?
I did ten series and thought that’s not really what I want to be remembered for. I was getting a bit like Russell Howard is now, there was just a lot of young girls coming to see me and that’s not why I was doing comedy. To me, comedy is about knowledge and ideas and freedoms and laughing as well. Television is God so unfortunately if you do television you will sell out much better live.
But would you want to attract that kind of audience?
That’s a good way to look at it. I don’t want these kinds of people at my shows.
Sean Hughes: Life Becomes Noises is at the Pleasance Courtyard, 5.30pm, until August 27. Sean Hughes Stands Up is at the Gilded Balloon Teviot, 8.15pm, until August 27