Part of WUWO Magazine’s ‘Comedy Take Over’ edition.
WUWO magazine has a chat with Sean Hughes about reality TV, gorillas, music, what makes him laugh and a whole bunch of other chat.
Interview with Sean.
WUWO Magazine: Did you always dream of stand-up and acting or did you harbour dreams of another career when growing up?
Sean Hughes: I knew from the age of 14 that I was going to be a stand-up so I was always training and driven towards that. I never thought of doing anything else.
WUWO Magazine: In your opinion, how has the industry changed?
Sean Hughes: Now there is a lot of stand-up on television with a lot of people getting into it because they want to be on television, whereas when I started, it was just to be a stand up comedian.
WUWO Magazine: You must have travelled a lot. What countries or cultures stick in your mind?
Sean Hughes: I always loved, from the early days as well, Australia. Melbourne has got a good comedy festival, so a lot of people tend to visit there as well as Edinburgh and it has a kind of community of travelling comics that all go there. I think Melbourne is probably the nicest for me.
WUWO Magazine: What’s your view of the current glut of reality TV shows?
Sean Hughes: I do sometimes watch them. I used to like Big Brother because it’s just observing people’s lives, which is kind of what you do when you do comedy. I used to like that element of it, but it soon gets quite tiring. I like it when it’s not just wannabes wanting to be on telly.
WUWO Magazine: What about regional accent based TV shows such as Desperate Scousewives, Geordie Shores and The Only Way is Essex?
Sean Hughes: I don’t really watch those and have no interest in them. I think there has definitely been a cultural change in a sense that a lot of people seem to be able to get on telly with no talent. It is what it is and you can’t ever deny popularity really.
WUWO Magazine: If you had three wishes what would they be?
Sean Hughes: I would wish that the whole concept of wishes was true, and I wouldn’t need any more than that. Then you could wish away.
WUWO Magazine: You realise you have unexpected downtime… How does Sean Hughes relax?
Sean Hughes: I may watch a DVD or something. I don’t really go out that much, or if I have a week or more I might go trekking with gorillas in Africa. I have done it before in Rwanda. That’s what I would like to do if I was really having some downtime. I find gorillas fascinating.
WUWO Magazine: Would you keep one as a pet?
Sean Hughes: No, I believe they should be allowed to run free. I’m quite into animal rights so I don’t believe in zoos or eating meat or the like.
WUWO Magazine: Do you think that the latest political/banking crisis has fatally undermined people’s faith in the government and financial industry?
Sean Hughes: No I don’t think it has because it goes from one thing to another and I find it a real annoyance that people are very willing to talk about it, and won’t shut up about it, but really won’t do anything about it. And I think that is bad. Police enquiries are absolutely futile, too expensive, not cost effective and create very little change. I’m afraid that if anything is going to change there has to be a proper revolution and that is not going to happen.
We shouldn’t live in a society where we print our own money. We make our own economies and yet there are still a lot of people starving in the world. That just goes to prove that our system doesn’t work.
I find it very odd that bankers get bonuses. We’ve got ourselves into a ridiculous situation where we live in an economy that favours the rich and there are still people starving. To me that is morally wrong and I can’t really do anything about it. We live in a corrupt society so what is the point of shouting about little things.
WUWO Magazine: What shows make you laugh?
Sean Hughes: ‘Friends’ makes me laugh and I find the things based on reality make me laugh but I don’t mean reality shows. For instance, there are bits on ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Dexter’ that make me laugh out loud and get some good bits of dialog. Then for comedy, something like ‘Modern Family’ is always very funny.
WUWO Magazine: Who is your favourite character in Modern Family?
Sean Hughes: Pretty much all of them, but if I have to pick one it would be the elderly father (Jay).
WUWO Magazine: You won the Perrier award in 1992. What did such a prestigious accolade mean to you and your career?
Sean Hughes: I think people put more importance on the awards than I do. It just so happens that I was at the show that year and it was nice to get the award but those kinds of things don’t really matter too much to me. I am very flattered to receive awards but don’t necessarily agree with them.
WUWO Magazine: We will soon be focusing an entire edition on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. What’s it like being part of such a huge festival of comedy, arts, theatre and street performances?
Sean Hughes: I love being at the festivals. I’ve been going up there for years so I always feel part of it. Although, I haven’t been for a while, so it feels like I am coming home in many senses.
WUWO Magazine: You are on a desert island. What three albums would you take with you and why?
Sean Hughes: One of them would always be Julian Cope (he used to be in a band called ‘The Teardrop Explodes’) because he has a song for every mood. Then Morrissey, as he would be quite good to listen to if you are on your own. For hope, a Polish conductor called Henryk Górecki’s, 3rd symphony because it’s just beautiful.
WUWO Magazine: You were born in London but moved to Dublin. What was that like and how did you handle the transition?
Sean Hughes: I had no choice on that because that was the way my parents went. Even though I was born in London, I have always considered myself Irish and never English. It just so happened, geographically, that I was born in London. My parents are Irish.
WUWO Magazine: You also write poetry. Did growing up in Dublin mean you were influenced by the likes of James Joyce?
Sean Hughes: No, I wasn’t influenced by him but I admired what he did. I’m not his biggest fan. I did like Beckett, but Seamus Heaney and Paul Durcan were influences. Having said that, if you ever wanted to ask anybody to read one book of poetry, I suggest you always start with Ted Hughes’ ‘Birthday Letters’.
WUWO Magazine: Were you really in a Terrorvision video?
Sean Hughes: Yeah, I was. I did ‘Tequila’ [the video] with them. I kind of knew them a little bit so I did it as a favour, so it was a bit of fun.”
WUWO Magazine: Coronation Street is one of the biggest shows in British TV history and still adored by millions. Did you feel the pressure? The fans are notoriously outspoken in the streets.
Sean Hughes: It was a job and was a really weird one because it was one of those where people recognize you all the time, which is horrible. But I was really glad I did it because it was my mum’s favourite programme. It did freak her out a bit seeing her son in it. It was quite sweet to do it just so she could see me in it.
WUWO Magazine: Who was the biggest diva on set?
Sean Hughes: It was pretty much a team effort, so, no one really struck me as a diva.
WUWO Magazine: What’s next for Sean Hughes and where can people come to see you around the UK?
Sean Hughes: I will be at the Edinburgh festival for all of August and then I am touring around the country in various venues from September till the winter. The show is called ‘Life Becomes Noises’.
Name: Sean Hughes
Show Name: Stands Up
Where: Gilded Balloon Teviot
Dates: 1-27 Aug excluding 8 and 14
Sean Hughes will also be performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe every day from the 1st August to 27th August at the Pleasance Courtyard from 17:30hrs to 18:30hrs.