Crouch End comic Sean Hughes sounds off

ACERBIC, straight-talking Crouch Ender Sean Hughes talks principles and pole dancing with Stephen Moore ahead of a return to his first love, stand-up comedy.

After a cracking reception to his Edinburgh show earlier this year, his show Ducks & Other Mistakes I’ve Made touches down in London for a five-night stint from next week.

And the 45-year-old has no problem saying what he thinks... in fact he loves it.

So, were any ducks harmed in the creation of this show?

“It was just a title for Edinburgh really. I just talk of ideas, you know what I mean? I’m a vegetarian and it’s one of the most popular parts of the show. People just go, ‘Oh, shut up,’ but I do make points about people who eat meat and then pretend to love animals.”

It sounds like you’ve taken a hard-line view on this.

“No, it’s just I’ve got principles in general; that’s the whole thing about the show. I just can’t understand people that just give up on all their principles. I take them on a journey.

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“It’s one of those things that there’s so few of us in our 40s doing comedy that we can talk about stuff that the kids can’t.

“I don’t want to knock the kids – I think they’re great – but they are talking from a 20-year-old point of view, where me and people like Stuart Lee and Richard Herring can go, ‘We’ve done this sort of thing for a long time and this is what we think about stuff now’.

“I have never liked being young; it didn’t really suit me. But the one thing is [now] you don’t really care what people think about what you say, within reason.

“You just go, ‘Your opinion? It doesn’t really bother me’.

“It’s pretty much what, in Shakespeare’s time, they called the jesters. They were allowed to say what was wrong with society. And I know it sounds pompous, but that’s what it is, and it’s phenomenal. We’re the only ones who can. And people don’t even see it as an art form a lot of the time.

“Because I don’t want to be a performing monkey, I just want to go, ‘This is what I want to say, I hope you agree with it’. You don’t realise this power that we have. And if you go on stage and just speak truth, people will love it.”

You’ve lived in Crouch End for 17 years now – have you seen it change in that time?

“There’s nowhere you can buy CDs in Crouch End, Muswell Hill or even Camden now. I think it’s disgusting. I don’t like to see the multi-nationals taking over stuff. I’ve always seen Crouch End as a village.

“All we have now are hairdressers and chemists, and I just find that all a bit bizarre. I’m a community person.

“There’s a brilliant bike shop in Crouch End which has been there for years, and now the pub by the phone exchange has become a bike shop. What the f***? You are going to put these guys out of business! Stuff like that really upsets me.

“I just hate when I see a local shop coming to bits. The record shop really f***ed me off.”

So, where do you stand on the failed bid to open a lap dancing club in Crouch End? People thought it would bring crime and sexual predators to the area.

“I have no problem with a pole dancing club. I’m not going there, but it’s a good thing. For me, it stops people who would rape people, they get off on that s**t that way.

“It’s there so that these people who need to get off on stuff, can go into. And I think that’s no bad thing. Of course they should open up that place.

“And this is what I mean where my comedy talks about stuff, rather than going, [affects dainty accent] ‘Hellooo!’

“Now Dunn’s is, and I hate to use that word, a national treasure, that place. I think Budgens does quite a good job.

“And the pubs are all rubbish as well. And don’t even get me started on the restaurants as well, because being a vegetarian there are very few places I can go to in Crouch End that satisfy me.”

l Sean Hughes is at Soho Theatre from November 11-14 and November 16.