From Australia to the USA to outer space, Balmain comedian Laura Hughes has already travelled light years with her comedy.
To call one’s rapid and repeated successes a ‘meteoric rise’ can often be a tad cliché, but it seems more than apt for Laura Hughes, whose steady rise through the ranks of comedy – both here and in her home away from home Los Angeles – has culminated in her first debut show Welcome To Planet Earth being performed as part of the Sydney Comedy Festival.
Having only started performing comedy in 2011, and even then begrudgingly so, Hughes has already accumulated some enviable accolades for her hilarity. Her first foray into comedy saw her placing as a finalist in Triple J Raw Comedy, a nationwide competition for emerging stand-up comedians that includes past winners like Josh Thomas, Hannah Gadsby and Dayne Rathbone.
“My boyfriend, who is actually now my husband, he’s the one who pushed me into it and told me to do it. It was me just going, ‘Oh yeah, okay, challenge accepted!'” Hughes recalls with mock resignation
While a fresh face on the comedy circuit, Hughes was far from under prepared. Her work as an actress on both stage and screen (in TV shows like Laid and Review With Myles Barlow), plus her experience writing scripts (her short film Make-Up won Best Original Short Story at the Monaco Film Festival) laid the perfect foundation for a crack at comedy.
“It’s more being able to do everything at once and being in control, I guess,” Hughes says of the latest string to be added to her bow. “As a comedian you’re the writer, director and the performer, so it’s great! Everything I’ve done is because I really like performing and acting, but as an actor I found it really frustrating that I had to wait around so I thought it was better, instead of waiting around, to just write myself roles.”
Following her success in RAW, Hughes moved on to the Melbourne International Comedy festival in 2012, handpicked as one of Australia’s top up-and-comers for the Comedy Zone showcase. The show was a launch pad for this year’s hour-long solo extravaganza, which features two performances at the Enmore Theatre Yalumba Wine Bar on May 9th and 10th at 7.15pm.
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“Last year, it was kind of like experiencing the festival with training wheels. I feel a lot safer having had a taste of the festival but it is a lot more frightening doing a solo show. It’s a lot more pressure, there’s a lot more panic attacks!” Hughes jokes, all comedy aside, still sounding slightly stricken. “Today I’m really excited, I go up and down, some days I’m like, ‘What the hell am I doing with my life?’ But today I’m actually really excited to have an audience to actually see the show and maybe laugh.”
While a longer show may increase the panic attacks, it also gives Hughes more time to muse on the oddities of social conventions and bizarre behaviour of society at large – two endless sources of inspiration and laughs for comedians across the world. In Welcome To Planet Earth Hughes is an alien from the planet Zarbongia, and with a little imagination combined with a healthy smattering of stand-up, sketch, video and perhaps even a PowerPoint presentation, the room becomes the space ship as she briefs the assembled on their three-pronged attack on Earth: assimilate, mate, dominate.
Hughes’ sense of feeling a little alien herself when observing everyday interactions led to the six months of preparation where she was able to hone her confusion and observations about life into the comedy show. “The light bulb moment for me was when I realised just how stupid life is, like how stupid this whole system we’ve set up is for ourselves. Everything, money, work, everything we’ve done we’ve created ourselves as a society and a lot of it’s just so ridiculous. I’m constantly looking at everything and just going, ‘Why? Why do we do any of this? This is so stupid.’ It’s just a build up of things that constantly happen that I don’t understand…”
“There’s a bit of social commentary,” Hughes continues, the laughable tizz she’s worked herself into subsiding, “there’s a bit of observation, but I’m not political at all; I can’t even think about politics, it gives me a headache! It’s silliness, just a lot of silliness more than anything.”
It may just be a lot of silliness but it’s clear that Hughes does silliness well. So while you’re getting introduced to Planet Earth, you’ll most likely also be getting an introduction to one of comedy’s fastest rising local stars.