London Hughes: Superstar

★★★
comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
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London Hughes
Published 18 Aug 2017

Somewhere along the road to Edinburgh, London Hughes has been poorly advised. With the best will in the world, her chosen venue isn't a go-to for audiences looking for exciting comics breaking out of the urban circuit (that's not a criticism – less than 10 per cent of C venues' shows are comedy; it's just not a focus of their programme). And there is a particular skill to putting together a show at a festival where audiences do tend to be more discerning. It feels like Hughes hasn't had help with this – frustrating as it emphasises in error the point of her show, which is how tricky it is for black performers to make it. Even someone with comedy awards and TV experience under their belt.

Running in at nearly 80 minutes this is just too long and baggy to make for a clear and energetic statement of London Hughes's talent. "Gameshow"-style set pieces start to drag. A long Q&A section fails not because it doesn't raise important issues about the unique challenges faced by BAME artists, but because it sucks the life out of any movement towards a finale.

That said, there's clearly superstar potential here. In routines based on audience participation, she is the queen of discomfort, confidently driving things forward where less committed performers might struggle. The interplay with her straight man "voice-over artist" is well done and a nice, idiosyncratic touch. She tells her life story via some very funny lines, and a directness and energy ("that's me, aged three. Fucking star, right?") that feels like it could become the hallmark of her standup talent.