Comedy review: Steven Hughes, Edinburgh

Steven Hughes constantly rails against political correctness
Steven Hughes constantly rails against political correctness
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Plenty of stand-ups like to think of themselves as subversive but it takes a comic like Steve Hughes to make you appreciate how few actually are.

Steven Hughes - The Stand, Edinburgh

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Certainly, it doesn’t take his long-suffering support act, Sully O’Sullivan, to question the wisdom of spending time in the company of such a committed conspiracy theorist – though as the engaging Kiwi admits, since Edward Snowden’s revelations, Hughes now appears slightly less unhinged, or a “conspiracy realist” as he puts it.

In the past, the Australian has occasionally allowed polemic and diatribe to overshadow his comedy. But last night he found something approaching balance. He may champion traditional Chinese medicine, the wisdom of the Aborigines, even smoking himself to a satisfyingly hardcore cancerous death in defiance of the corporate machinations he perceives behind empirical science. But “do you want a well-adjusted stand-up comedian?” he asks.

As he constantly rails against political correctness and health and safety culture, sometimes to an absurd degree, while evoking alternative universes accessed through marijuana and magic mushrooms, you frequently find yourself adopting the side of The Man against him. He might call me brainwashed by capitalism and rationalism. No matter, his worldview feels distinctive and he nails insightful and contrarily funny points on race, culture and ideology.