DAVE Hughes readily admits that a few people were baffled by his decision to walk away from radio and TV at the end of last year.
His breakfast show with Kate Langbroek on Nova was leading the ratings and he had helped shape The Project into one of Channel Ten’s few success stories, yet he decided to pack it all in.
“People in media can’t believe I’ve given up media jobs (while) people are being made redundant left, right and centre,” he said.
But it was time for a change — it was time for him to get back to where it all began, Hughes explained.
“This year is all about stand-up comedy,” he said.
“I wanted to do 200 shows and I’m on track to do that.
“I’m enjoying the difference of not turning up at the same place every day — I was doing radio for 12 years and (The Project) for five.
“Now I’m seeing Australia and checking out places I’ve never been to and I’m meeting the locals by them buying tickets to my show, which works out well.”
The Warrnambool-raised comedian never stopped doing stand-up. When the comedy festival came to Melbourne each year, he would squeeze gigs in between his radio and TV commitments, usually resulting in a month of minimal sleep. But, as Hughes puts it, doing stand-up is a compulsion for him.
“If I didn’t have stand-up I’d go crazy,” he said.
“It’s my year of doing stand-up comedy and I’m loving it.
“It’s much easier ... with that night-to-night experience. I feel confident on stage and comfortable — the more you do it the more comfortable you feel.
“When you tour through different regional areas and different cities it sparks ideas because you’re out of the normal routine.
“The more different things you do, the more material comes to you.”
Hughes returns to the south-west to perform at the Portland Civic Hall on Friday and Warrnambool’s Lighthouse Theatre on Saturday.
He said he was looking forward to coming home.
“I’m heading everywhere in Australia ... so I can’t leave my home town out,” he laughed.
“(I get back there) a little bit but because I’m touring it’s not as much as I should.”
After Warrnambool, Hughes’ Year Of Stand-Up will take him overseas for shows in Los Angeles, followed by stints at the Montreal’s Just For Laughs festival and the Edinburgh Comedy Festival.
While every interview with Hughes this year has featured the inevitable bit about him not missing the early morning rises for radio, one thing the comedian does miss is his old Saturday night job on footy panel show Before The Game.
“Before The Game was my favourite,” he said.
“I love footy and it was a great team, so I miss that.
“I was doing that every Saturday in winter for 11 years but now I can be anywhere on a Saturday rather than in that same studio.”
Leaving Before The Game means he can’t use the “but it’s for work” excuse as a reason to watch the footy, although he admitted he’s OK with that given the “brutal” season his beloved Carlton has endured.
“It’s been good because I’ve been on stage when Carlton has been playing so I’ve only seen a couple of games,” he said.
“But I know a few of (the Carlton players) personally, so they get thrashed and I’ve got Daisy Thomas texting me and I don’t know what to say to him!”
Hughes might be loving his Year Of Stand-Up, but he’s got no idea what comes next.
“I’m not sure about next year,” he freely admitted.
“I can get back to radio if I want to. There’s also TV gigs, but they’ve got to be right for me.
“I want to do what I want to do — whatever that is, I want to be completely in charge of it.”