Steve Hughes is often billed as a heavy metal comedian. He has played drums in three metal bands (Slaughter Lord, Nazxul and Mortal Sin for any metal heads) and performed at countless metal festivals around the world. So it should come as little surprise to witness the sea of black entering the Forum Theatre. Black band t-shirts, black leather jackets and black ponytails abound as punters eagerly await an evening of, what turned out to be, black comedy.
The title of the show refers to a nervous breakdown Steve had not so long ago where, as his succinctly doctor put it, ‘he broke his brain.’ Doesn’t exactly sound like fodder for a great night of belly laughs, does it? Hughes certainly doesn’t pull any punches and gets very personal very fast, charting his decline to a point where he was near suicidal. ‘It was brutal, man’ Hughes repeats throughout the show and it’s certainly brutal territory but Hughes navigates it with poise and somehow the laughs keep coming. ‘Not the best joke I know, but I just needed to add a laugh there,’ Hughes jokes when things get particularly dark.
Hughes is a wonderful no-frills comic. No props, no cheesy tour poster, no overarching theme or message. Hell, sometimes the guy can’t even be bothered with slick links in between bits. But that shouldn’t suggest Hughes can’t be insightful, keenly observant and riotously funny all at the same time. The easily offended should probably stay away but offense here is rarely used for mere shock value. There is a logic and clear-sightedness to all of Hughes’ observations that are each delivered with a refreshing and often brutal honesty. In fact, it seems wrong to be using all these big words to describe a comic who himself cuts to the core from all the bullshit in society, so let’s just say he was bloody good and leave it at that.