Christian Reilly and Steve Hughes

Christian Reilly, right whose show How To Rock is billed as "a Van Halen-worshipping, comfort-eating teenager's hilarious musical quest for happiness with a budget six-string", and is at the Pleasance until 27 August , left A heavy metal drummer turned comedian, whose show Heavy Metal Comedy is at Assembly @ Edinburgh Comedy Room until 26 August

CHRISTIAN REILLY Hey Steve - how about if I do a little bit of incidental music while you do a pitch for your show?


CR [Starts to play Stairway to Heaven very softly on an acoustic guitar] Ladies and gentlemen, go wild and crazy for ... Steve Hughes!

SH It's called Heavy Metal Comedy - that's gorgeous background music, by the way - it's on at 9pm at the Tron but it's not actually about Heavy Metal entirely, or at all, it's about politics and religion and science and entertainment and the New World Order and conspiracy theories.

CR So you really want some science music there [plays a few random chords]. I think that sounds like science - do you think that sounds like science?

SH Yeah, I think that sounds like science.

CR And this sounds like paranoia [strums something frantic]. Would you describe yourself as paranoid Steve?

SH [who somehow manages to deliver this next bit without breathing once]: No I wouldn't describe myself as paranoid, just well-read and actually understanding what's going on in the world instead of watching X Factor and Big Brother and shows about how to sell your house and getting lulled into a sense of anaesthetisation by shopping every day and thinking that having a bank account is brilliant and getting a new mobile phone that takes pictures and does your washing and has an in-built helicopter pad on it and, really, why not just have a phone and a Walkman and shut your mouth and get into something different and sell your TVs? In fact, if you all sold your TVs tomorrow they'd bring out the army. Do you understand? That's not paranoid, that's true. When did you think that colonialism stopped. Did you think it had stopped? No, it's just called neo-colonialism now and it's done with the World Bank and the IMF instead of invading somebody's country and just stealing everything - unless it's the Middle East, obviously, where you really need to knock out some dictators so you can actually get your military bases around a country that's got five borders with other Arab countries and has a port that you can ship oil out of ...

CR Steve ... STEVE! Sorry to cut across the monologue, it's all really riveting, but anybody that's read George Monbiot knows all of this stuff. Are you trying to reach morons?

SH No, I wouldn't call people morons. Cos that's what the system thinks everyone is: morons.

CR But the people who are interested in this kind of stuff, who will be coming to your show, they'll already know this stuff.

SH Yeah, but I go deeper than that because you've got to get into the spirituality and understand the collective unconscious and if you want change on the planet then it comes through the manifestation of thinking, which is where you usually get things that manifest in the physical realms from the ethereal realms, which everyone thinks are different but they're not, they're connected, because there's only oneness, so if you actually want something to change, like peace on the Earth, then you have to actually manifest it through understanding that compassion is something to be done, not just thought about ...

CR OK ... so would you say you were a Buddhist?

SH No, not particularly.

CR OK, but that sounds like Buddhism to me.

SH It does sound like Buddhism, doesn't it?

CR I'm not trying to tag you or anything...

SH Oh no, I know you're not. That's fine. I would have got into Buddhism but I realised that they had gold temples while there were poor people around. But their understanding of religion is better than Christians' [strums a chord for emphasis].

CR OK, so let's say that a person listening now can only read one book, what's an important text for you?

SH Ooooh. One book. That's hard. See, Ken Wilber's Brief History of Everything would be good because he's a biochemist.

CR When was that written?

SH About 15 years ago.

CR So it's a bit out of date now for a history of everything.

SH Not really - it's a brief history of everything.

CR Yeah. Apart from the last 15 years. That's the problem with calling a book A Brief History of Everything: the moment it gets published it gets a little less relevant every year, doesn't it?

SH That's a good point. He has a new book called Integral Spirituality, so maybe he's caught up in the last 15 years.

CR So a Brief History of Everything except for now ... and now ... and now ... and that was history and that's gone and that was then and ... eurgh.

SH But then again, there is no history or future because everything's happening in the now.

CR Do you know [the comedian] Matt Welcome?

SH Yeah, I know him.

CR He's mad into that isn't he? He started talking to me about it and he thinks that everything is happening now. There's no time, right?

SH That's true.

CR I'm not saying he thinks that and I don't, but I started asking him about it and I said "when did you come up with all this?" And he said "You know what? To tell you the truth I have spent the last ten years smoking dope lying on my couch watching TV."

SH Yeah. "Nothing's happening except the now." "When did you come up with that?" "Yesterday!"

• You can listen to the whole of today's Brief Encounter online at