Goodbye Sean Hughes

Photograph of Sean HughesWords by Suzy Romer

Goodbye Sean Hughes. It´s difficult to know what to write about someone so important when it is such a shock. But beyond the protocol of press coverage, the news is something that will take a little while to be absorbed by the comedy community.

It´s hard to believe that 27 years have passed since he won the Perrier Award. It seems like yesterday that he would appear on stage in a t-shirt and jeans, sometimes with a large cardigan on, his fingers sweeping through his hair, and start to talk to the audience, to everyone and to individuals. There was never any doubt about how the show would go because he connected naturally with people. He delivered his jokes quickly, one after another, so that you had no time to stop laughing before the next wave of laughter started. He didn´t shy away from difficult topics such as family relationships and love but he knew how to present deeper thoughts with a light touch. He made it possible for his audience to acknowledge darker truths and let them go.

He didn´t realise how different he was. His comedy was like meeting a best friend after an evening spent with mediocre colleagues. He was amazing for what he was and what he was not. He was down-to-earth, warm, adaptable and easy-going, but the only “easy target” he picked on was himself. His style of delivery looked so effortless that the uninitiated might be excused for thinking that everything he said was off the top of his head. His blend of improvisation with written material was seamless. He was able to interact with the audience throughout the show, using their answers to his questions as a launch into relevant comedy routines.  He could do his set in any order without losing momentum or repeating himself.

I was 15 when I first went to see Sean Hughes and fell in love with him instantly. I know many others did too. He was a great introduction to the world of live comedy because he represented all the best things about it. In person, he was always kind and never took admiration for granted. He never lost the human connection. His many achievements are well-known but it is his comic energy and real life charm that make him an unforgettable figure in comedy history. We miss him.


Published by Punchline

Your secret source of comedy knowledge at the Edinburgh Fringe

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