Review: Steve Hughes

8 April 2016

Steve Hughes has seen some shit. He’s getting old. Got a haircut. His delivery is slow, terse, he paces across the Forum stage like he’s holding so much on his shoulders. Also, he spent the last two years going through a nervous breakdown.

Nervous Breakthrough is part comedy, part confession. Hughes has used this opportunity as a way to vent his issues and bring to the fray topics you typically wouldn’t find yourself laughing at. Yet, this is where Steve Hughes excels. Hughes expertly jumps between heartwarming sincerity and the blackest, self-deprecating humour you’ve heard.

Brutal. Brutal is a word that kept coming up over the course of the night. Usually describing everything Hughes has been through over the course of the last two years. It’s also the best word to describe Hughes’ style. Blackened comedy. Unafraid to tackle any topic – suicide, addiction, therapy, capsicums, cancer, Hughes takes on it all. But it’s funny. None of it feels forced or just there to shock you. It’s coming from a place that’s seen it all.

Hughes can also read the room. His style is tangential. He’ll go somewhere dark, linger there, explore the depths, but then break away and lighten the mood. Important to remember, lighter for Hughes means “Nazi fashion”, but it’s lighter nonetheless.

At times, Hughes drops the comedy entirely and just speaks to you. Talks to you about how hard it’s been, how close he was to dying. Complete honesty. But it doesn’t damper any mood. Nervous Breakthrough is like watching someone sort their life out. You just need someone to talk to.

I wouldn’t recommend Nervous Breakthrough to everyone. If you’re looking for a nice night out, just checking out the sights of the festival, this is hardly the show for you. If you don’t like your comedy black, not for you. But if you want something brutally sincere, heartfelt but most of all fucking funny. Then I’d say yeah, check it out.

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