“Honesty is the best way to go”
Problems? Dave Hughes has had a few. But, as he tells Stellar, he will never stop sharing them with candour
Comedian Dave Hughes plays “Agony Uncle” on his new TV show, and says he has no problem plundering his own personal life – or marriage – for material.
Like most comics, Dave Hughes has built a career out of plundering his own life for laughs, dignity be damned. But it’s an especially brave man who goes on national TV to tell the country his wife is all too easily distracted during sex – and then asks a panel of guests to help him sort it out.
“Sure, it’s awkward, absolutely, but Holly [his wife] is well used to it,” Hughes tells Stellar. “She has a laugh and it’s all true, so she shouldn’t have a problem with it.”
As long as plenty of others take umbrage at the situations they have in their lives, then the 47-year-old’s new show on Network Ten, the aptly titled Hughesy, We Have A Problem,
should be in for a good run.
You famously spent $3 million on the most recent winning house from The Block. Do you still have it, or did Holly make you sell it already? Of course we’ve still got the house… that will be in the family for years. We tried settling early, actually – I was around there over summer with the kids, in the pool. I rang the producers and said, “We’re just at the house, don’t ring the police!” Because we didn’t officially own it then. So no buyer’s remorse? Funny thing: I went to get a bank loan the other day and they haven’t valued it the same as I paid for it, which is fine, but annoying because there were five bidders. What was the difference in the valuation? Look, it was less, and that’s all I’m saying, all right? [laughs]. Enough less that it made me annoyed. For f*ck’s sake [exasperated]… I just think it’s good value and in a few years’ time people are going to be going, “Well, f*ck, didn’t he do well with it!” I am playing the long game, all right? That is what I say to my wife, anyway. You seem to revel in taking risks, such as your opening monologues at the Logies. I like to think the honesty I show about my own failings is the first example people can look at to see that even though you are a deeply flawed individual, you’re OK. But we live in an age of seemingly perpetual outrage. Do you think it is a dangerous time to be a comic? I don’t believe so. People who are getting outraged – commentating about other people’s failings without acknowledging their own – need to make sure their own backyard is in order, probably. You have been open about your struggles, including alcohol abuse and periods of unemployment. Do you think that vulnerability connects you to fans? I’ve always thought honesty was the best way to go from the start of my comedy career, when I would talk about the fact I was on the dole. Embarrassing things in your life make great comedy fodder. That’s the inspiration for this show. It’s corny, but it is empowering to admit where you have gone wrong and then have a laugh. Are the guests on your show expected to share in the same way? It’s definitely why I’ve invited people like Judith Lucy on. She’s obviously really funny and I love her, but she’s someone who is able to expose herself. Fiona O’loughlin talks about the fact she was in a coma for three weeks and I had to explain to the audience it was true, she wasn’t joking. [O’loughlin was hospitalised for carbon monoxide poisoning after overlooking a home heater leak during her ongoing battle with alcoholism]. Everyone thought she was dead but now she’s back being really, really funny. Your long-term Hit FM radio partner Kate Langbroek also makes an appearance on the show. What’s special about that relationship? There is a comfortability there now. We have been doing radio for years. She gets to endlessly mock me and I’m up for it. I think we understand each other, we are on the same wavelength in comedy terms. She certainly doesn’t suffer fools – and I like to think I don’t either. I’m lucky… and also don’t have to worry about the school pick-up now that I’m on drive [timeslot]. Not that the kids would tell me anything on the ride home. They treat school like I’m ASIO. They give me nothing. I go, “What happened at school today?” “Nothing.” Well, are you f*cking learning anything?! Hughesy, We Have A Problem airs 8.30pm Tuesdays, on Network Ten.
“People who are getting outraged need to make sure their own backyard is in order”
A (clockwise LAUGHING from MATTER top left) Comedian Dave Hughes with wife Holly and their three children; Hughes hosted the 2017 Logie Awards; on the set of his new show Hughesy, We Have A Problem with fellow comics Julia Morris, Anne Edmonds, Harley Breen and Nazeem Hussain; Hughes admits to paying handsomely for the winning house on the last season of The Block won by couple Elyse Knowles and Josh Barker.