LIVE: Dave Hughes returns to stand up

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Dave Hughes performs at the Civic Theatre on May 30. The show is not recommended for those aged 14 and under. Tickets at Ticketek.

GETTING up at 4am for radio last year and working through until 8pm on TV, Dave Hughes barely had a second to spare, let alone time for stand-up.

But late last year Hughesy, as he’s affectionately known, wrapped up his radio show Hughesy & Kate (with Kate Langbroek) and stepped down as full-time host of TV show The Project to focus on his first love – stand-up comedy.

‘‘I had an exhausting schedule, there’s no doubt about that. It’s hard to enjoy life when you’re basically so tired,’’ Hughes, who is married with three children, told LIVE. ‘‘I didn’t have any time to do stand-up comedy. I didn’t have five seconds to scratch myself, so it was good to ease back a little bit.

‘‘I’d been banging on for years that I wanted to take a year off and tour stand-up comedy – people had been hearing me say that for probably seven or eight years – so eventually I’ve gone, ‘I’m going to do it’.’’

And he has. Hughes brings his Pointless show to the Civic at the end of the month and is clearly relishing the change of routine and his return to live performances.

‘‘I love stand-up so if I could do [it] every night for the rest of my life I’d be happy,’’ he said.

The comedian admits he does miss the camaraderie of radio and TV (‘‘you always miss laughing with your friends and miss laughing with people who see the world the way you see it’’), but felt it was time for the nation to see and hear a little bit less of Hughesy. It’s almost a treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen mentality.

‘‘Whether it is true or not, you feel like you get taken for granted almost,’’ he laughed.

‘‘I’d feel like I was doing good work, but I think because people see you so much, they just go ‘whatever’, you know? I’m happy if people see me less and perhaps do appreciate me more when they do see me. ‘‘Whenever people say, ‘I miss you on TV’, I say, ‘Well I’m in town, just buy a ticket and come and see me. You can see me tonight’.’’

His show draws on everything from current events (such as the Packer punch-up: ‘‘Any major news event which is ridiculous like that is just fodder’’) to his day-to-day life as a father of three and partner of more than 10years to wife Holly Ife. He is also sure to make local references to the town he’s visiting on any given day.

‘‘You definitely want to connect to the locals wherever you are, and early in the show – you don’t want the audience to think you’re going through the motions.

‘‘You want them to think you’re in the moment. You need to open your eyes when you’re walking around town, keep your ears and your eyes open and just write it down – I’m forever on my iPhone,’’ Hughes said, adding he’d be lost if the replacement for the good old notepad went astray (or flushed down the S-bend).

‘‘My kids will be on the toilet and be like, ‘Daddy, can I have your phone?’ and I’m like, ‘Don’t drop it in the toilet, I’ll be really unhappy’. It’s dangerous.’’

Though he gets a ‘‘ridiculous’’ amount of material from the kids and his long-term relationship (‘‘the contempt with which you end up being treated’’), Hughes said the key to getting laughs was usually his own misery.

‘‘It’s all fodder, anything out of the ordinary that happens in your life, especially traumatic moments or where you’re being insulted – any time I feel bad or any time something happens to make me feel bad generally,’’ he said.

You’d think the confidence for such self-deprecating humour would have accumulated over years of comedic experience, but Hughes said he gained confidence at his third gig.

The comedian grew up in country Victoria, dropping out of university in Melbourne after six weeks (‘‘I started doing information technology in 1989, which is funny in itself because the internet started in 1990 … I don’t know how to pick a trend, if I’d have stayed with it I would have been a genius’’) before moving to Perth.

After years contemplating an inkling that he could be funny, 22-year-old Hughes performed his first gig. It didn’t go well.

‘‘I was horribly nervous, my first stand-up gig was a disaster,’’ he said.

‘‘When the lights go in your eyes it’s like you’re being interrogated, you’re blind, you feel like everyone hates you. It’s not great, but I kept at it.’’

He persevered and by gig No.3 had a new take on performing.

‘‘It occurred to me – only a couple of weeks after that initial horrendous death – I seriously had an epiphany. I remember the thought: ‘You’re already a winner, just by walking on this stage, so whatever happens doesn’t matter’,’’ Hughes said.

‘‘It relaxed me completely and I still feel that third five-minute gig was one of the best gigs I’ve ever done because I was completely in that mindset that there was nothing to lose.’’

These days the 43-year-old still follows that mantra.

‘‘People say, ‘I don’t know how you do it, it’s the hardest thing in the world’, and I’m like, ‘Is it really?’ I’ve gone on stage and had no one laugh at all in a room and guess what? No one else cared but me, you’re not physically hurt. As long as you realise it’s all a joke anyway, there’s actually nothing to be scared of.’’

LIVE has a double pass to the show to give away. To enter, send the word ‘‘Hughes’’ along with your name, address and telephone number to [email protected]老域名出售.au or SMS ‘‘Hughes’’ to 0427842179. Entries close at 9am on Monday.