Dave Hughes: High Voltage review.

Dave Hughes made the trip from Melbourne to be one of the opening weekend headliners for the Big Laugh Comedy Festival at Parramatta. For Sydneysiders, it was a welcome chance to get a sneak preview of Hughes’ ‘High Voltage’ show that he’s putting together for the upcoming Melbourne Comedy festival.

The high energy, full volume AC DC music that opens his show is ironically appropriate as Hughes introduces himself from offstage and then ambles on. Hughes moves at roughly the same rate as a Tasmanian Old Growth forest. The man rewrites the meaning of ‘laid back’and takes the grand total of about three steps during the entire time he’s on stage.

For the boy from Warrnambool, Victoria (home of ‘Cheese World’ Hughes tells us), it was always the case that he craved the simple life. His formal education wasn’t what you’d call extensive. Hughes did a total of six weeks at uni studying computing before cutting his losses and taking his chances in the real world.

But ‘Pumped up’ is how Hughes constantly refers to himself. He borders on actually reaching an emotion on occasion but never quite makes the full journey. You get the feeling that the effort involved would wear him out.

But fans of Hughes know not to go looking for colour and movement. It’s the material that they’re after. Hughes doesn’t do the sort of one liners you take with you and retell your friends later on. After a show it’s kind of hard to remember what the hell it was that Hughes was talking about in the first place. All you can recall with any certainty, is that he had the crowd in stitches for over an hour.

Hughes also has the knack of distracting himself and is liable to go off on tangents at any time. And even when he stays on track, he has a way of simply stopping after a joke and staring into the crowd in a way that makes him look like he’s on day release from a mental hospital.

Yet, despite his complete lack of presentation skills Hughes’ appeal to audiences seems universal. He has the quintessential Australian accent (smart, yet cheeky and delivered with a smirk) and could entertain a crowd by just reading the phone book.

So catch Dave’s show when he’s next in Sydney. By the look of him, he may not have the energy to make the trip again for some time.

This review first appeared in Drum Media in 2004.

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