Comedy review: Sean Hughes, Glasgow

THIS first performance of Sean Hughes’s latest show finds him musing on addiction. Establishing the idea of a dialogue between his common sense and the inner voice leading him astray, the Irishman reveals how he knew that he’d become a comedian at the age of ten – an incident leading to him visiting the dentist found him responding to the man’s patronising care with reflexive viciousness, if not wit.

Sean Hughes knew that hed be a comedian when he was just ten years old

Sean Hughes: Mumbo Jumbo - The Stand, Glasgow

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Although he stretches the definition of addiction, from a lovely tale about recording with his heroes The Cure through a fog of drink and drugs, to more broadly encompassing his love of animals with an anecdote about encountering mountain gorillas, the best stories find Hughes tenderly evoking emotional moments before cutting through them with instances of cruelty and frailty.

In recent years, the comic has spoken compellingly about his late father, but here he turns the focus on his mother, unsentimentally explaining how he can love but not like her.

For all the twinkle in his eye, the 49-year-old has settled into a jaded outlook on life and bristled at a 21-year-old PR professional in the crowd, emphasizing their generation gap, unaware that the lad was also the relatively new comedian Christopher Macarthur-Boyd. Not all Hughes’s topical material in the first half landed squarely. But with a routine that echoed his friend Bill Hicks’s pragmatic inventiveness, he winningly contrived a solution to both Ebola and Isis.

A couple of straight-ish poems suggest that he’s striving to find a balance between laughs and poignancy.

Seen on 09.02.15