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"They heckled me." Dave Hughes on attempting to perform comedy while isolating with his kids.

In life before COVID-19, Dave Hughes would consistently do three or four comedy gigs a week.

Like, in real life. In venues that weren’t his living room, and with real audiences who, get this; would sit close together. Maybe, there would even be some hand shaking.

Occasionally, there would be a heckler. But Hughesy didn’t know just how bad heckling could be until he performed a comedy set with only his children as his audience.

In the Lift: Dave Hughes. Post continues below video.

Video via Mamamia

The at-home gig was for Stan’s Australian Lockdown Comedy Festival, which will feature more than 20 of Australia’s biggest and most recognisable comedians across four weekly episodes.

Episode one, which will premiere on Saturday, May 9, at 7pm AEST, will be MC’d by Hughes with guests Tom Ballard, Becky Lucas, Randy Feltface, Nikki Britton and Oliver Twist.

Others to be featured in later episodes are Wil Anderson, Cal Wilson, Nazeem Hussain, Zoë Coombs Marr, Tommy Little, Geraldine Hickey, Dilruk Jayasinha, Steph Tisdell, Aaron Chen, Sam Campbell, Michelle Brasier, Nath Valvo, Claire Hooper, Sam Taunton, Nikki Britton, and Tom Walker, plus newcomers Lauren Bonner, Blake Freeman and Bec Charlwood.

 

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Hughesy doesn’t know what the other comedians’ sets will be like, but he knows his was one of the toughest he’s done.

Standing in front of son Rafferty, 11, and daughters Sadie, 9, and Tess, 7, was “so much pressure,” he told Mamamia.

“They were yelling out, they were heckling me, they were saying things like ‘you can’t say that about our mother’.

“It’s tougher [than a normal crowd], absolutely tougher. They’re more prepared to heckle, and they don’t have any respect for me like a live audience has I think.

“I should have ejected at least two of them. They were yelling out things like ‘we’ve heard it before’, I was like ‘shut up!’.

stan australian lockdown comedy festival dave hughes
Image: Stan.
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Like so many other parents across the country, Hughesy is dealing with 'the new normal', which includes homeschooling his kids, and the scene is likely to be very relatable.

"They're on the iPads, in between picking up cats and asking me if we have any origami paper, and me not knowing what the difference between origami paper and normal paper is... That's a typical morning in our household at the moment."

Hughesy is still recording his drive time radio show Hughesy and Ed in the studio, so he's still spending some time outside of his home each day.

He also counts himself as one of the lucky ones within the comedy industry, which has been hit hard due to isolation rules and restrictions on public gatherings.

"There's a lot of comedians, live, stand-up comedians who are wondering when they will next get in front of an audience. It's just one of the industries that's been massively affected," he said.

So, Stan's Australian Lockdown Comedy Festival has been a welcome morale boost for the 20+ comedians involved.

"Absolutely [it has], anything that can help you continue to do your craft is great. For people including me, I'm a bit of a workaholic and probably average three or four live gigs a week over the last 20 years or more, so having none in the last eight weeks or whatever it is, to be able to have a cast, to go 'right, we need to create some comedy inside the house', it's great for the comedians," Hughesy explained.

For his own set, Hughesy recreated moments from his stand up routines: "Like when I'm with my wife, trying to get intimate, and she asks me whether I've put the bins out," he said.

But besides his own set, Hughesy is not across what to expect from others in the festival.

"I'm absolutely in the dark but I'm fascinated to see how it comes up because at least I had an audience for my routine; I know that some people are self-isolating on their own and are doing it to a blank wall, [which could] really turn into performance art really quick.

"The more [the audience] laugh, the funnier you get. So when they're not laughing at all..."

Australian Lockdown Comedy Festival will premiere on Saturday, May 9, at 7pm AEST. There will be a total of four episodes, with new episodes weekly on Stan. You can watch the trailer for the Australian Lockdown Comedy Festival here. 

Feature image: Stan.

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