Right Side of Wrong

Sean HughesIpswich Corn ExchangeIT'S A tough gig, stand-up, and never tougher than when you walk up to the microphone to face a cavernous venue where the empty seats outnumber the full ones.

Sean Hughes

Ipswich Corn Exchange

IT'S A tough gig, stand-up, and never tougher than when you walk up to the microphone to face a cavernous venue where the empty seats outnumber the full ones.

Sean Hughes had that prospect last night on the Ipswich leg of his tour, the first he's done for a number of years, and it is fair to say that introduced something of a cooler note to the performance.


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It's not that he didn't try; there were some sparks of the Hughes sharpness of old and the glimpses of the edgier comic who was tearing the scene up on the nineties, including his reasons why you shouldn't take ecstasy in a Holocaust museum.

Opening up with a selection of ho-ho items from the local newspaper (not this one, I'm relieved to say) is a fairly lazy way of attempting to build a rapport with your audience although as they all seem to do it I'm perhaps being a bit harsh.

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He had a great deal to say about the awfulness of old age, the aches and pains and extraneous body hair, but he's only 41 for goodness' sake, not 71, although you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

Mind you, many of us greybeards could identify with his experience of being in HMV and feeling like a pensioner in pre-school and the need for a nap now and then and the cruelty of waking up ever earlier in the morning.

There was some good stuff about being a single 40-something trying to date 25-year-olds, and his concerns about his incredible shrinking parents.

One of the more interesting threads woven through his act was his apparent near-death experience in the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, which he picked up and dropped at random, leaving a tantalisingly incomplete picture.

He did work at striking up a relationship with the front row, aided by a plate of biscuits and some mint TicTacs, and that really showed where he functions best, in smaller, more intimate situations where he can embrace his audience and bring them into his world of quick lines and occasional mumbles.

He didn't seem too pleased with the rest of us, berating us for not laughing hard enough which is understandable, if ineffective.

We left with the impression that he, and we, would have been better off if he'd invited us all into the bar and done the show there. Perhaps he might think about that for the next tour.

DC

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