Death & comedy: Sean Hughes

Published: 11 Nov 2012 17:300 comments

IT doesn't sound like the most chortlesome of concepts, a comedy show about the death of the comic's father. But Sean Hughes is a comedian who has made his living by treading where other stokers of laughter dare not.

UPLIFTING: Sean Hughes

His new show, Life Becomes Noises, is not, Sean is keen to tell me, depressing, nor - despite it being based around the death of his father from cancer - really about death.

"It's the first question I get asked - 'It's a show about death?!' and people think, 'I do not want to see that show!'" said the eloquent Irishman, who has been a fixture in comedy since winning the Perrier Comedy Award in 1990. "It's very much like death has inspired a very uplifting show about life. Sometimes you need to lose something to gain respect for it.

"It's a funny show, I'm not serious at any moment of the show. Some of it is very poignant and heartfelt, but I'm a standup comedian, that's my job. I have just managed to write a show that's very, very much a funny show about death."

While his mother 'does not do comedy shows', and his brothers have read the script, Sean has found that Life Becomes Noises sometimes provokes strong reactions in audience members. "That's the reason I love doing the show," he explained. "It's only a comedy show but it can bring things up from people's lives. People are not used to being able to express their loss. It's the first show where people go 'it's really funny and thank you'. I have never been thanked for a show before. I do not hang around and meet people after the show because I don't think that's our relationship but last night in Birmingham two sisters came up to me crying, thanking me. Their brother had died."

Sean also revealed that Life Becomes Noises had found a perhaps unexpected audience: "It's people who have young children who really love the show, because it's about the role of the father in society. Once you hit your mid-20s we have all had a trauma and it's about how you deal with it. It either makes you stronger or breaks you."

The 46-year-old added that the power of comedy was about a coming together: "It's a sharing situation live, whether it be comedy or music or theatre. There's nothing like being in a room with a bunch of strangers, all laughing at the same thing."

Sean Hughes: Life Becomes Noises is at Arlington Arts Centre, Newbury, on Saturday, November 17. Tickets cost £16 from or call 01635 244246.

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